The first-time offensive play-callers in FBS in 2017

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday March 30, 2017


There will be 8 first-time play-callers in FBS in 2017.

Several were promoted from within, while others were hired from the outside. Only three of the nine are on staffs with a new head coach. Some called plays in high school, but it’s their first college position. This list doesn’t include Alabama’s Brian Daboll, who called plays in the NFL.

Here are 2017’s first-time play-callers.

Jeff Nixon (Baylor) – There hasn’t been an official announcement, but Texas Monthly reported in February that Nixon is likely to call plays, despite the fact former Temple OC Glenn Thomas joined Matt Rhule at Baylor. Nixon was an NFL assistant from 2007-16. Baylor football on the field has been associated with offense, and there are still playmakers there.

Zak Hill (Boise State) – When Scott Huff left for Washington, Bryan Harsin promoted co-offensive coordinator Zak Hill to the lone OC role and gave him play-calling duties. Hill will be Boise State’s fifth play-caller in a many years, and he is entering his second year on staff.

Brian Ferentz (Iowa) – The son of Kirk Ferentz has been on staff since 2012 and was promoted to offensive coordinator this offseason, following Greg Davis’ retirement. The Hawkeyes were No. 95 in scoring in 2016, at 24.9 points per game.

Andrew Sowder (San Jose State) - The 28-year-old spent last year as an assistant receivers coach at Texas and comes from the Dino Babers and Baylor offensive tree. Sowder worked under Babers at Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green from 2012-15 and was previously a student assistant at Baylor.

Sonny Cumbie (TCU) – When Doug Meacham left for the OC job at Kansas, Cumbie took over the TCU offense, of which he has been the co-coordinator. He was also a co-offensive coordinator at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury, but this will be his first full play-calling role. TCU’s scoring offense dropped by 11 points per game in 2016.

RELATED: How first-time offensive play-callers fared in 2016

Larry Scott (Tennessee) – Scott was promoted to offensive coordinator after one season as tight ends coach, following Mike DeBord’s departure for Indiana. Scott was a high school coordinator in Florida and was on the USF staff from 2005-12, followed by three years at Miami (FL).

Zak Kuhr (Texas State) – Offensive coordinator Brett Elliott took the Mississippi State QB job, and Kuhr was hired after one year as Rutgers’ running backs coach. He previously worked under Everett Withers at James Madison in two years as the co-offensive coordinator.

Junior Adams (Western Kentucky) – Adams spent the last three years coaching receivers at Boise State, including one year with now-WKU head coach Mike Sanford. He’s been handed the keys to the No. 1 scoring offense in the country, but there are only four returning starters on it. The Hilltoppers have scored more than 44 points per game in the last three years.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 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 chris@coachingsearch.com.