Clark Lea’s Staff Begins To Take Shape

Happy New Year Commodore Nation! Below is an updated thread of information compiled on credible reports of who Coach Lea is hiring to fill out his staff at Vanderbilt:

AJ Blazek – Offensive Line Coach

John Egorugwu – Linebackers Coach

LaMar Morgan – Cornerbacks Coach

Jesse Minter – Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach

Ben Cauthen – Chief of Staff

Smoke Dixon – Director of Recruiting

Andrea Cain – Recruiting Relations

Erica Duane – Graphic Designer

Taylor Searels – On-Campus Recruiting Coordinator

Ryan Bellerose – Assistant Strength Coach

Fahd Jindani – Assistant Strength Coach

Joey Lynch – QB Coach/Pass Game Coordinator

David Raih – Offensive Coordinator

Molly Hart – Assistant Director of Operations

Molly Hart comes to Vanderbilt after graduating from Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN) with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She helped Notre Dame football as a football student equipment manager. She will aid Casey Stangel in her duties as director of football operations. Welcome to West End, Molly!

Jovan Haye – DE Coach

Coach Jovan Haye, formerly defensive line coach and a quality control staff member on defense, will remain on staff coaching defensive ends. Coach Lea’s decision to keep his former Commodore teammate on staff is HUGE. Haye is a vibrant recruiter who was instrumental in bringing in huge recruits like Terion “Tank” Sugick and Marcus Bradley in the past recruiting cycle. He ranks 89th nationally among coaches on 247Sports’ coach recruiting rankings, making him one of the most important members on the Commodore staff. His passion for Commodore football and skills as a defensive-line guru make him the perfect coach to relate to student-athletes and Commodore Nation. The Dore Report is hyped that you’re staying in Nashville, Jovan!

Nik Valdiserri – Recruiting Coordinator

 Nik Valdiserri joins Coach Lea’s Commodore staff after working with Notre Dame (2017-2019) and Bowling Green (2020). With the Irish, Valdisseri served as a student assistant for one year and then worked with recruiting, scouting, planning visits, operations, and evaluation, among other responsibilities. He studied film, television, and theatre (concentration: television) while at Notre Dame, graduating in 2018. Welcome to Nashville, Nik!

Brandon Hourigan – Strength and Conditioning Coach

Coach Brandon Hourigan brings plenty of experience to West End. By solely judging results from his previous seven years at Wake Forest, it’s clear there are reasons for Vanderbilt fans to have optimism for the development of strong SEC-ready players. Wake Forest is a program that is similar to Vanderbilt in some respects and players in Hourigan’s program have developed into consistent winners who can control the line of scrimmage against many teams they play, even without recruiting classes full of four and five stars. Bottom line: Wake Forest has had quality depth and fielded consistently successful ACC teams who can physically match up against most power-5 teams. Hourigan has also served in strength and conditioning positions at Bowling Green, Virginia, Richmond, and Northeastern, overseeing training efforts for multiple sports. 

Ultimately, a look at a Wake Forest message board (or this reaction tweet from Wake Forest LB Jacquez Williams) shows he was well-liked around the program during his time in Winston Salem. This was a big-time hire for Coach Clark Lea, yet again hiring a position coach away from a successful power-5 program.

Barton Simmons – General Manager (Director of Player Personnel)

Hearing rumors about this hire, I was absolutely thrilled. Once it became official, I could barely contain my excitement. One of my favorite media personalities/college football experts who’s also a podcast legend, Barton Simmons, was going to work with his old high school-friend (Montgomery Bell Academy) Clark Lea. Simmons, revered as a recruiting and evaluating expert, served as the 247 Sports Director of Scouting and frequented the Cover 3 and Barton & Bud podcasts. The Nashville resident played football at Yale. Welcome to the Black and Gold Mr. Simmons!

Simmons recently joined episode 53 of The Dore Report:

Inoke Breckterfield – DL Coach

Coach Inoke Breckterfield brings seasoned experience to the Commodore defense. Wisconsin’s defense has given up 16.5 ppg during Breckterfield’s six years as a d-line coach for the Badgers. That’s one tough defense, and if Vandy can have a d-line reminiscent of Wisconsin’s under its new coaches Breckterfield and Lea, then we’re in good hands. Breckterfield has also had stints at UCLA, Pittsburgh, Montana, Weber State, and Oregon State, where he had a successful collegiate career.

Casey Stangel – Director of Football Operations

Stangel has an impressive resume, especially having worked with legendary coach Tim Corbin of Vanderbilt baseball. Casey Stangel will be the first female director of football operations in SEC history. She’s worked as internal operations coordinator for Vanderbilt baseball and has worked with Vanderbilt baseball for 4 seasons after interning with the MLB. She will finish her Master’s Degree in Leadership and Organizational Performance from Vanderbilt this fall. She played softball at the University of Washington. 

Norval McKenzie – RB Coach

Coach Norval McKenzie returns home to Nashville where he played with Coach Lea. The successful running backs coach is coming from Louisville, where he coached redshirt freshman Javian Hawkins to a record-breaking season in 2019. With 1,525 yards, Hawkins set a freshman and an all-time single-season record for the Cardinal program. Previously, Coach Mckenzie was a Broyles Award candidate during his three years coaching running backs at Arkansas State. He’s had successful seasons coaching at Furman as running backs coach, special teams coordinator, and recruiting coordinator. From 2008-2010, McKenzie was a member of the Commodore staff as a graduate assistant and as an assistant recruiting coordinator who helped with player development and with the Gridiron Club.

Justin Lustig – Special Teams Coordinator

Coach Justin Lustig comes to Vanderbilt after much success at Syracuse. After this past season, it’s very clear Vanderbilt has a lot of work to do when it comes to special teams. Coach Lustig should bring an immediate upgrade to Vandy’s special teams. He has been a Broyles Award candidate and his units at Syracuse have ranked among the top special teams squads around. He’s also had an impressive career, serving as Head Coach at DII Edinboro University, and having coordinator/assistant opportunities at Ball State, Villanova, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Eastern Illinois among others. He played college football at Bucknell.

**This article will be continually updated as new hires are made**

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