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NFL Assistant Sunseri Hired by Huskies

Washington is bringing in former Patriots RB coach to work with the defense

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

According to reports, Washington is on the verge of completing their second coaching acquisition from the New England Patriots today as assistant Vinnie Sunseri is expected to be hired as a defensive backs coach for the Huskies. He would follow fellow assistant Stephen Belichick who will reportedly be the new defensive coordinator. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic first reported the news this morning with ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg confirming.

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Update 2/5/24 2:50 pm: Sunseri was officially announced by the UW Football account on X as an assistant coach but without a specific position coach designation.

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For Sunseri, this will be a return to the defensive side of the ball. He played safety at Alabama under Nick Saban and played for national title winning teams as a freshman and sophomore. His best college season came in that 2nd year when he had 54 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 INTs to help them to a championship. Injuries cut short his junior year but he was still drafted in the 5th round by New Orleans. Unfortunately, Sunseri suffered a knee injury during his rookie year and never ended up meaningfully contributing after stints with New England and San Francisco.

With his NFL career over, Sunseri returned to Alabama and spent one season as a graduate assistant. That plus his previous stint in New England helped him become a defensive coaching assistant for the Patriots in 2020. After one season, he switched sides of the ball and has served as the Patriots’ running backs coach for the past 3 years.

Once again, Fisch is making a hire of someone who has ties to all-time great coaches and who he has worked with in some capacity in the past. Sunseri has spent the majority of his post-high school life either playing under or coaching under Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. There are worse role models out there for an aspiring coach. He went from graduate assistant to NFL position coach within 2 seasons so he has already undergone a meteoric rise in his career.

Just like with Steve Belichick, who Sunseri will be following to Seattle, he doesn’t have any recruiting experience. Sunseri played in college at one of the sports’ elites and spent a year there as a graduate assistant so he has a little collegiate experience. But he has never gone on the recruiting trail. At just age 32 though, Sunseri has the combination of experience and enthusiasm that should give him the theoretical skillset to succeed at that part of the job.

Also like Belichick, Sunseri has a famous dad in coaching just not one who has been a head coach. His father, Sal Sunseri, coached linebackers in two different stints with Alabama under Nick Saban including while Vinnie was in college and a graduate assistant there. He left the Crimson Tide the first time to become Tennessee’s defensive coordinator and is currently on Deion Sanders’ staff at Colorado as the defensive line coach.

We’ll see once the announcement is made public what Sunseri’s official title ends up being. John Richardson was the cornerbacks coach at Arizona before joining UW’s staff and was announced as “Secondary Coach”. With Sunseri’s background playing safety it would make sense for Richardson to focus on the cornerbacks and Sunseri the safeties even if both are listed as secondary or defensive backs coaches.

Washington has senior Kamren Fabiculanan set to start at one safety spot but there will be a competition between Makell Esteen and a host of underclassmen who need to be developed to fill out the rest of the rotation next year.