August 16, 2018 | ° F

Early returns

Flood introduces offensive coaching staff, builds new core with extensive ties to New Jersey, tri-state area

Photo by Ramon Dompor |

Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood speaks at his introductory press conference Jan. 31, when he said he planned to keep the Knights coaching staff intact. Several assistants left for various destinations, but Flood announced his hirings Monday.

Kyle Flood promised at his introductory press conference that the Rutgers football team’s offensive, defensive and special teams philosophy would remain the same. Then he lost nearly every member of his coaching staff to the NFL.

The first-year head coach introduced his new staff yesterday, bringing in Boston College interim offensive coordinator Dave Brock to run the Scarlet Knights offense. He promoted special teams coordinator Robb Smith to run the defense, and defensive line coach Phil Galiano took over Smith’s special teams duties.

He promoted Jeremy Cole from within to head strength and conditioning coach.

“I think we’ve been able to bring experience here,” Flood said on a conference call, “but more important than that, it’s experience in the system that we run.”

Brock said many aspects of his offense will be the same as the one Rutgers ran last season under former offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, who left to coach quarterbacks for the St. Louis Rams.

Brock coached wide receivers — and New York Giant Hakeem Nicks — under Cignetti at North Carolina before he left to work with Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson as the offensive coordinator at Kansas State.

“I haven’t been around a lot of coaches that have been able to bring out the best in their players the way Dave Brock has as a motivator,” Flood said. “It certainly was an extra benefit to me that he worked with Frank in this system. That certainly made it easier, but that was not the main reason.”

Brock said he will be aggressive in implementing his offense during spring practices, and he expects a smooth transition, mostly because there is not any transition at all.

“We’re going to run a system that’s been run,” the Moorestown, N.J., native said.

The biggest challenge will likely be adjusting to an entirely new offensive staff.

Rob Spence, who served as offensive coordinator at Clemson, Toledo, Louisiana Tech, Syracuse and most recently Bethune-Cookman, will coach quarterbacks.

“With the situation we’re in with two guys in our program who have won really big games for us, two guys who have performed at a Division-I level, I needed to bring someone here who could get those quarterbacks to the next level,” Flood said. “I feel like Coach Spence is that guy.”

East Orange, N.J., native Ben Sirmans will coach running backs after spending the previous five seasons in the same capacity at Boston College. Eight-year NFL veteran Darnell Dinkins, who was an assistant tight ends coach last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will coach the tight ends.

He won a Super Bowl ring in 2009 with the New Orleans Saints and played alongside tight ends Kellen Winslow and Jeremy Shockey during his career.

“He’s somebody that played that position,” Flood said, “and I didn’t know until I interviewed him, but made that transition from the quarterback position, just like D.C. [Jefferson] did.”

Spence recruited Flood to play at Iona and Brock coached alongside him for five years at Hofstra, but he is also plenty familiar with offensive line coach Damian Wroblewski.

They have similar résumés — both coached at Hofstra and joined Rutgers via Delaware — but only worked together at summer camps in Piscataway.

“He’s the best in the country,” Flood said. “I believe that with all my heart, and that will show itself as we go forward in this program. We have some talented linemen in this program, and he will get the best out of them.”

Each member of the offensive staff has ties to the region.

Brock and Sirmans are New Jersey natives familiar with local high schools from recruiting at Boston College. Spence is a New York native with 23 years of coaching experience, mostly in the area. And Wroblewski recruited the region and Maryland for Hofstra and Delaware. Dinkins has no recruiting experience, but the Pittsburgh native could fill the void left in Pennsylvania recruiting by Cignetti and Brian Angelichio.

“You bring people here who are at the highest level of their profession in terms of how they coach football and their knowledge, and I think you bring people here who are excellent recruiters,” Flood said. “I was fortunate enough to bring just about everybody on the staff here with built-in relationships in the area already.”

By Steven Miller

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