Recently it occurred to me while taking an overview of the Raiders new coaching staff just how impressive it is. Starting with Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther and on through a staff filled with extensively experienced coaches, many of whom made lateral moves to join Jon Gruden’s new staff.
One coach that was not mentioned among them was new Secondary coach Derrick Ansley. Not because he isn’t an impressive hire, but because he is making the jump from college to the pros and therefore making a case for his experience was difficult. Not like guys like Guenther, Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia, Defensive Line coach Mike Trgovac, Offensive Line coach Tom Cable, and Wide Receivers coach Edgar Bennett.
When asked recently in an interview with The Mercury News about the coaches Gruden was most excited to have landed for his staff, he mentioned all the above names, and added Ansley as well.
“I think Derrek Ansley is going to be a star in this profession,” said Gruden. “Going to be a great secondary coach. Really excited to get him.”
So, what’s so exciting about Ansley?
He’s what is often be referred to as a rising star in the coaching ranks. Something Gruden was in his early 30s. Back when Gruden was an up and comer and at 34 became the youngest head coach in NFL history, Ansley was in high school.
He went on to play four years at Troy University, graduating in 2004 with a career 19 interceptions and immediately got into coaching. He first served as a DB coach at Huntingdon College from 2005-09. He then moved on to be a graduate assistant at Alabama in 2010-11 with the the Crimson Tide winning the National Champion in his second year there.
That experience earned him the job as DB coach at Tennessee (2012) and then Kentucky (2013-15) before returning to Alabama, this time as DB coach, where once again in his second year with the program they were National Champions.
Alabama certainly doesn’t have any trouble getting pretty much any recruits they want, which gives them a considerable competitive advantage as well as sends a lot of top prospects to the pros. That said, after Ansley’s first year on the job, he saw one of his cornerbacks, Marlon Humphrey, selected 16th overall in the draft. Now after his second season, Minkah Fitzpatrick is widely considered the best DB in the country and fellow safety Ronnie Harrison could be drafted fairly high as well.
Alabama finished last season with the number one defense in the country. Their pass defense allowed an NCAA low 8 touchdowns through the air all season, the sixth fewest passing yards per game (165.7), and the seventh most interceptions (19).
That made Ansley a hot commodity this offseason. Colorado State though they had nabbed him as Defensive Coordinator, but Gruden came in and offered him a spot on his staff and he took his chance to coach at the highest level.
He joins the Raiders in his mid-thirties, just as Jon Gruden did as head coach 20 years ago. If he’s like Gruden and is as promising as Gruden thinks he is, he won’t be a position coach long before he’s tapped for a Defensive Coordinator job. In the interim, perhaps he can get the most out of the Raiders underachieving defensive backs as he did with his Crimson Tide DB’s. That’s certainly the kind of potential Gruden sees in him and the kind of potential he has.