Coaching staff tracker: ASU hires Jason Mohns away from Saguaro High School
Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham wants to activate the Sun Devil fan base. He wants to rebuild a football program that has the resources to recruit top talent. But he can’t do it alone.
He is quickly building his staff, and there are plenty of local Arizona ties.
“Our staff is going to be people who build relationships in this Valley because they love this Valley,” Dillingham said at his introductory press conference.
“I think some guys will (be hired) fairly quick and other guys we’re going to do our due diligence, making sure we hire the best candidate for the job,” he added. “One thing I know is I have a plan for what I want and sometimes those plans, if you want the best thing you can get, you have to be patient. We’re going to have to be patient on some ends but other guys we’re going to be quicker on.”
Here’s what we know of Dillingham’s staff so far:
Bryan McGinnis — Director of football operations
Bryan McGinnis has spent the past decade as the director of football operations at the University of Colorado and will have the same off-field title at ASU, BuffZone’s Brian Howell reported.
McGinnis was with CU for three coaching regimes after coming over from San Jose State, where he served in the same capacity for two years.
He was previously on the Spartans’ coaching staff for six seasons as an assistant, working with running backs and linebackers at different points.
CU had one 10-win season and reached two bowl games with McGinnis in the building.
Jason Mohns — Tight ends coach
Jason Mohns, who helped Saguaro High School reign as one of the top football programs in the state for the past 11 seasons, joins the team as a tight ends coach.
Mohns helped Saguaro to seven state titles. The team lost in the championship game to Basha over the weekend in its ninth title game appearance during Mohn’s 11-year tenure.
At Saguaro, Mohns helped produce a number of NFL players, including current Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy.
Saga Tuitele — Offensive line coach
Saga Tuitele leaves his role as the Fresno State offensive line coach and run game coordinator.
From 2020-21, he served for the run-heavy Army team in the same capacity.
Tuitele will coach the offensive line at ASU.
Tuitele has stops at New Mexico (2016-19) and Cal Poly (2009-15) and the first stint at Army (2007-08).
His stints at Cal Poly and Army both gave Tuitele experience coaching option offenses, bringing a unique background to Dillingham’s staff.
Bryan Carrington — Cornerbacks
TCU recruiting coordinator and offensive analyst Bryan Carrington will join Arizona State as cornerbacks coach.
Carrington was a running back quality control analyst for USC last season, working with current Arizona Cardinals rookie Keaontay Ingram.
The Houston native got into coaching as a recruiting analyst for the Houston Cougars in 2015-16. He joined former Texas Longhorns coach Tom Herman’s staff in 2017 and became director of recruiting in 2018-19.
Before the 2022 season, he was credited with helping land 11 five-star recruits.
His work was not relegated to Texas and included a few high-level Arizona prospects: Current Texas star running back Bijan Robinson from Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic High School and former Texas and USC receiver Jake Smith from Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale.
Ra’Shaad Samples — Wide receivers and pass game coordinator
The Los Angeles Rams’ current running backs coach will depart to coach receivers and take on pass game coordinator duties at Arizona State.
Samples, who at 27 years old is the youngest position coach in the NFL, has been with the Rams only one year after previously serving at SMU. There, Samples began as an offensive assistant in 2019, shifting to running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for 2020 and then assistant head coach and running backs coach in 2021.
A former receiver at Oklahoma State and Houston, Samples began coaching at Houston from 2016-17 and spent a year at Texas as an assistant wide receivers coach.
While he presumably will bring flavor from Sean McVay’s offense to the play sheet, he should also have a grasp on recruiting the greater Dallas metro area. He starred at Skyline High School in Dallas.
Samples was set to join the staff of current College Football Playoff team TCU under head coach Sonny Dykes before he took the gig with Los Angeles this past season.
Brian Ward — Defensive coordinator
Dillingham has found his defensive coordinator in Brian Ward.
Ward is currently the DC at Washington State and has the Cougars defense ranked No. 35 in the country in both scoring defense and rushing yards allowed in his first year with the program. Washington State was also tied for the 24th-most turnovers forced in the nation with 21, as well as tied for No. 42 for sacks at 29.
Before his time in the Pac-12, he had stints at Syracuse (2016-19) and Nevada (2020-21).
In the Sun Devils’ 28-18 loss to the Cougars in Pullman, Wash., this season, the WSU defense held ASU to 212 passing yards and 121 rushing yards while forcing one interception and a 21% third-down percentage (3-for-14).
Ward follows Dillingham’s local-ties theme and was born in the Valley while also being the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Glendale Community College from 1999-2000.
He also has head coaching experience at McPherson (2007-09) and Bowling Green as an interim in 2015.
A.J. Cooper — Linebackers
Cooper follows Brian Ward from the Washington State staff.
Born and raised in the Phoenix area, he played at Glendale Community College as a tight end. He has coached defensive linemen at North Dakota State and Wyoming since 2009. He also played at North Dakota State (2004-2005) and was signed by the Green Bay Packers in 2006, but did not make the roster.
Cooper has been at Washington State the past three seasons and in 2022 took on defensive run game coordinator duties on top of coaching edge players.
Beau Baldwin — Offensive coordinator
The Sun Devils announced that Cal Poly head coach Beau Baldwin will become ASU’s next offensive coordinator.
While the 50-year-old’s 4-21 record at Cal Poly is an eyesore, he went 10-3 at one season as head coach at Central Washington (2007) and 85-32 at Eastern Washington, winning one FCS title and appearing in three more semifinals at the Big Sky School from 2008-16.
Notably, he coached current Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp in the final four years of his career at EWU, helping the wideout set FCS records for receptions (428) and receiving yards (6,464) in a career.
He made the leap to become assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at California and had several different job titles at the Pac-12 school from 2017-19.
Charlie Ragle — Assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and defensive assistant
Dillingham’s high school coach at Chaparral stepped down from his head-coaching position at Idaho State on Monday and was officially named ASU’s assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Wednesday. He will also serve as a defensive assistant.
The Bengals went 1-10 in Ragle’s first year on the job.
“Elite competitor, elite leader. When you talk about a guy who can inspire, he can inspire. An elite teacher,” Dillingham said Sunday of Ragle, who he called one of his greatest influences.
Ragle coached as a defensive coordinator at Moon Valley High School from 2000-04, jumped to Chaparral as an assistant in 2005 and then spent a year as a graduate assistant at ASU in 2006 before taking the head-coaching job at Chaparral from 2007-11.
He made the leap to college as director of operations for the Arizona Wildcats in 2012 and then moved to coach special teams and tight ends from 2013-16. Ragle held the same position for the California Golden Bears from 2017-21 before making the leap to lead Idaho State, which had gone 1-10 the year before his arrival.
Ragle’s recruiting abilities will be leaned on from a local perspective and more.
Vince Amey — Defensive line
Amey also departs Idaho State, where he led defensive ends.
Amey played for years for the Sun Devils and became a seventh-round NFL Draft pick in 1998.
He played professionally in the NFL, as well as in Germany, the XFL and the Arena Football League, including suiting up for the Arizona Rattlers from 2005-07.
Amey got his start as a defensive line coach at Chaparral in 2011, then coached at Arizona in capacities from strength and conditioning (2012-14) to defensive analyst (2014) to defensive line coach (2016-17).
Amey had a stint at Marana High School for the next season before leading the D-lines for the AAF’s San Diego Fleet and the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats.
ASU announced that Amey will take over as defensive line coach.
Shaun Aguano — Running backs or something more?
Aguano returns after serving as the interim replacement to Edwards.
Before that, he was running backs coach, but whether that will be his responsibility is not yet known.
Arizona State deputy athletic director Jean Boyd said Sunday that Aguano had made inroads in terms of helping the school’s Name, Image and Likeness possibilities. He will surely be an asset to recruits, if not donors.
“Shaun’s done an absolutely remarkable job here. I couldn’t be happier — one of the first people I saw when I got here was Coach Aguano and … he brings a joy to you when you see him in a room. There’s not many people who can do that.”
Prior to joining ASU’s staff in 2019, Aguano led Chandler High School as head coach from 2011-18 and was an assistant there from 2001-10.
Joe Connolly — Head coach of football sports performance
ASU announced it is retaining Connolly in the same position he has held over the last five years.
“There wasn’t even a question that Joe Connolly was the right man for this job,” Dillingham said.
“His name was one I was familiar with long before I returned to Tempe and he was one of the first people I sat down with when I arrived. Joe is renowned in the strength and conditioning world for his attention to detail and the results of his work ethic on the student-athletes he trains.”
Connolly joined the Sun Devils after Edwards was hired.
He previously worked at UMass, South Carolina, Louisville and Harvard.