Washington’s coaching staff has been unchanged through 2 seasons of the Kalen DeBoer era. That appears to be coming to an end but not for the reason that many fans would’ve thought (Ryan Grubb getting a head coaching spot). Instead, Edge coach and Special Teams coordinator Eric Schmidt is reportedly set to be hired as the Defensive Coordinator for San Diego State under new head coach Sean Lewis per 247 Sports’ Brandon Marcello. He will remain with the team through the CFP per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.
Schmidt followed Kalen DeBoer from Fresno State where he served as defensive line coach and special teams coordinator under DeBoer in 2020 and 2021. Prior to that Schmidt did have DC experience at the FBS level where he served in that role for North Dakota for 6 seasons. DeBoer and Schmidt first connected when they were on staff together at Southern Illinois.
Washington’s edge rushers have generally been one of the strengths of the team on defense since DeBoer and Schmidt’s arrival. Bralen Trice emerged as one of the best edge rushers in the country, leading the nation in QB pressures each of the past two seasons. Jeremiah Martin had a breakout year in his final season of eligibility in 2022 earning 1st team all-conference honors alongside Trice. The return to 2020 form that many fans were hoping for from Zion Tupuoula-Fetui this year never really came to pass as he finished the year with just 25 pressures and 3 sacks across 300 pass rush snaps.
We also have to give credit to Schmidt for UW’s special teams performance. Washington was had one of the best ST units in the country and were dominant shutting down opposing kickoff returns while Daniyel Ngata emerged as a very good kick returner in his own right for the Dawgs. Punter Jack McAllister improved and Grady Gross generally had a very good first year as a field goal kicker that earned him a scholarship at the end of the regular season.
It remains to be seen what kind of an impact this might have on UW’s recruiting at the edge position with one week until national signing day. The highest ranked recruit in UW’s class is currently edge rusher Noah Carter who the Huskies need to keep in the boat. There are also 3 other players in the class viewed as somewhat DL/ED hybrids who Schmidt has at least partially helped to recruit with Dominic Kirks, Keona Wilhite, and Ratumana Bulabalavu.
It will be interesting to see who Kalen DeBoer pursues to replace Schmidt. I’m sure that many Husky fans will be clamoring to see Ikaika Malloe return to Montlake after he wasn’t retained when DeBoer took over. He has been coaching both OLBs and the DL at UCLA in the interim and the Bruins had the best pass rush trio in the country this season with former Husky Laiatu Latu plus the Murphy twins. UCLA has already lost their DC this offseason to USC.
We’ll have more on potential candidates for the job as those become available.