June 20, 2019 | 75° F

Ash adds 4 new assistants to coaching staff


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Photo by Dustin Niles |

This off-season, the Rutgers football team made several changes to head coach Chris Ash’s staff as it prepares to start spring practice next month in anticipation for the 2019 season.

The Scarlet Knights have added Andy Buh, Kolby Smith, Pete Rossomando and Jay Valai to Ash’s coaching staff.

Smith becomes the running backs' coach after Nunzio Campanile spent one year with the backs. 

Smith spent the last five seasons with Louisville, where he was a part of a four-bowl appearance Cardinals team in that span. With Smith commanding the running backs, Louisville averaged 245.1 yards per game, ranking at No. 15 nationally in 2017.

Smith, a Cardinals alumnus, was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. In his first season with the Chiefs, he totaled 400 yards on the ground in 16 games played. He was awarded the American Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week after a 150-yard rushing and 113 carries performance against the Oakland Raiders.

He was also on the Denver Broncos and the Jacksonville Jaguars, before he resorted to ending his career in 2010.

Buh replaced Jay Niemann as the defensive coordinator, back on Jan. 21. Buh, who was the primary play-caller for the Terrapins’ defense, will also be the linebackers' coach for a Rutgers defense that ranked 86th, nationally, in defensive efficiency. 

Ash, a former defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State from 2014-2015, gradually took over some of Niemann’s playcalling abilities after the Knights lost to Maryland, on Oct. 13. 

Ash and Buh are already familiar with each other, having spent 2012 under former Wisconsin head coach Brett Bielema’s coaching staff. That season the Badgers won their eighth conference championship.

Buh was the linebackers' coach at Wisconsin while Ash commanded the entire defense and defensive backs unit. 

Buh’s first season, saw a high-powered Terrapins’ defense tie for third in the Big Ten with 37 sacks. Only one quarterback, Michigan’s Wilton Speight, who transferred to UCLA, would notch a 300-yard game against Buh’s defense. 

Buh brings a resume that includes several upset wins and close contests against Big Ten opponents. In his last season at the helm, the team took down then No. 23 Texas 34-29 to open the season and was the only team to take then No. 10 Ohio State to overtime.

Last year, Maryland booked a ticket to the Quick Lane Bowl that season, but lost to Boston College by 6 points. At the time, it was the team’s second bowl appearance since joining the Big Ten in 2014. 

In 2017, the Terrapins’ defense, with Buh at the helm, recorded 10 interceptions — the most passes a Maryland team had picked off since 2013. But, the Terrapins missed out on a bowl appearance, finishing 4-8, 2-7.

Under Buh, four Maryland players have moved up to the NFL, most notably Quinton Jefferson, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks.

Niemann, who was hired by Wyoming as its linebackers' coach, was with Rutgers for the previous three seasons at the helm of the defense. In 2016, he commanded a defense that was top 10 in the nation in red zone defense (.727) and top 20 in allowing 186.5 passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. 

Rossomando was hired as the offensive line coach after serving as Central Connecticut State’s head coach for the previous five seasons. Last season with the Blue Devils, he compiled a 6-4 overall record, going 4-2 in the Northeast Conference. 

His best year in in New Britain, Connecticut was in 2017, where he guided the team to its first NCAA FCS Playoff berth. The Devils were penciled in to the tournament after securing a conference title. They finished the season with a perfect 6-0 record.

Rossomando was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award and was selected as the Northeast Conference’s Coach of the Year.

Valai was hired as the cornerbacks' coach after he spent the last year with the Kansas City Chief in the NFL where he was a defensive quality coach. The Chiefs led the NFL in total sacks (52.0) and forced fumbles (25) last season.

All the new coaches will get accustomed to Ash and the Knights next week, when spring practices start. The annual Scarlet and White Game will take place on April 13 at HighPoint.com Stadium.


For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @SchmiedJake and @TargumSports on Twitter.


Jake Schmied

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