Chart: Major Applewhite completes Houston coaching staff

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday February 08, 2017

Major Applewhite has completed his full-time coaching staff at Houston again.

The staff was completed in January, before a departure at offensive line led to a quick change. The staff includes several coaches retained or promoted from within. Applewhite takes over a program that has won 22 games over the past two years with Applewhite as offensive coordinator. He was promoted to the head job, and here is his 2017 staff:

Most of the UH staff followed Tom Herman to Texas, but Applewhite retained Kenith Pope to coach running backs and Darrell Wyatt to coach wide receivers. Pope is entering his third year at Houston, while Wyatt is entering his second.

Applewhite also promoted from within. Offensive analyst James Casey was promoted to tight ends coach. He joined UH last year in his first coaching position. Graduate assistant Dan Carrel was promoted to outside linebackers coach after two years on staff. This is also his first full-time coaching job.

To lead the strength and conditioning department, Applewhite promoted Rod Grace.

As for outside moves, Applewhite hired three coaches who were looking for work after head coaching changes. Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio spent 2016 out of college coaching after Al Golden was let go at Miami (FL) following the 2015 season. D'Onofrio spent five years there after five years as defensive coordinator at Temple.

Clay Jennings coached defensive backs at Texas for one year before Charlie Strong was let go. He previously coached defensive backs at Arkansas. Darren Hiller joined the staff from USF as offensive line coach, but left for Indiana a few weeks later. Applewhite then hired former Falcons assistant Chris Scelfo as the new offensive line coach in February.

“I look at who’s excited to be here?” Applewhite said in January. “Are you running away from a job or are you running into this job? Are you happy to be here? That’s what I want to see when I’m on the field and looking at the coaches coach their position. Is this guy fired up to be here? That means a lot to me.”

Applewhite hired Brian Johnson from Mississippi State to run the offense. Johnson’s coaching career began in 2010, but this is already his second full coordinator job, after he held the role at Utah from 2012-13. He spent three years at Mississippi State and helped develop Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald.

When Applewhite got the job, he cited the support from Texas high school football coaches, and he hired one. A.J. Blum has been a Texas high school assistant at three different schools since 2003, and he helped develop current UH defensive lineman Ed Oliver in high school.

When Herman put together a Houston staff, he said he wanted them to be the best recruiting staff in the state of Texas. Applewhite’s staff doesn't have as many ties, several coaches are still young in their careers, and his coordinators have never coached in the state, though Johnson is from Texas.

Applewhite’s first game as head coach was a 34-10 loss to San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Their first four games next year are at UTSA, at Arizona, Rice and Texas Tech.

Keep track of new FBS staffs here.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to