WEST POINT — Army begins spring football practice Tuesday, and its coaching staff will have a different look, with four new assistant coaches. Todd Spencer and Tom Simi will work with the offensive line; Wayne Moses will help coach the running backs; and Mayur Chaudhari will run the Black Knights’ secondary.
Spencer and Simi will take over an offensive line instrumental in helping to propel Army to lead the nation in rushing each of the last two seasons. They replace Gene McKeehan and Bill Tripp, who both retired.
Spencer will begin his 36th season in coaching, including 22 years as an offensive line coach at the Division I level. His most-recent position was at Georgia Tech, where he served four years as the co-offensive line coach. In his tenure, six linemen were all-ACC, including four first-team selections. The Yellow Jackets led the ACC in total offense in 2008 and 2009 while running the triple-option offense. The team led the nation in rushing for the first time in school history in 2010; the Yellow Jackets were No. 2 in the nation the year before.
Army will continue to run its option offense, with which Spencer is well acquainted. Prior to joining the staff at Georgia Tech, he spent 11 seasons as the offensive line coach at Navy. The Midshipmen won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy and made post-season appearances in each of his last four seasons. Navy led the nation in rushing four times during his tenure in Annapolis, including three straight years from 2005 to 2007. In addition to posting the top-ranked rushing offense, the 2003 team set school records for total rushing yards (4,202); yards per attempt (5.5); rushing touchdowns (44); total offense (5,506); total offense per game (423.5); and yards per play (6.0).
Prior to his arrival at Navy, Spencer was the offensive line coach at Oregon State from 1991-96, where he worked with Army’s current offensive coordinator, Ian Shields. Shields, a quarterback for the Beavers, earned three letters from 1991 to 1993 while running the option. The team finished second in the nation in rushing in 1993, averaging 300.6 yards per game. Shields, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant, and Spencer were on the Beavers’ staff for the next three seasons.
Simi has served the past four seasons as the head coach at the U.S. Military Academy Prep School. Eleven members of Army’s current collection of offensive linemen played at USMAPS under Simi. In his four seasons at USMAPS, the team had a 23-13 record, including a 21-6 record the last three years.
“We couldn’t have found two guys in the ranks of college football who are more knowledgeable about what we do offensively than Tom Simi and Todd Spencer,” Army head coach Rich Ellerson said. “Those guys are easily stepping into the saddle. What is great for the guys on the offensive line is that it’s another chance to make a first impression.”
A 34-year coaching veteran, Moses has both college and NFL experience. On the staff of 13 bowl teams, he has worked with a number of big-name head coaches, including Terry Donahue, Steve Mariucci, Jim Lambright, Walt Harris and Rick Neuheisel. Moses brings a track record of working with 1,000-yard rushers, and he’ll work with Raymond Maples, one of only three Black Knights in team history to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Moses spent the 2012 season working with the running backs at Idaho. Prior to that, he spent four seasons as the running back coach at UCLA.
After spending nearly 30 years in college football, Moses advanced to the St. Louis Rams for two seasons. Moses was the running backs coach at Pittsburgh for one season, helping the Panthers to a share of the 2004 Big East title and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. Moses spent the 2002, 2003 and 2005 seasons at Stanford where he recruited Toby Gerhart, the 2009 Heisman Trophy runner-up.
His time at Stanford wrapped a stretch of 15 out of 16 seasons working at Pac-12 schools. Moses spent four seasons (1997 to 2000) at Washington, his alma mater. He moved the following year for one season at USC. He coached running backs at California in 1996, than had a six-year run at UCLA from 1990 to 1995. In all, he coached four running backs that led the league in rushing.
Before going to work for the Bruins, Moses coached wide receivers at New Mexico during the 1989 season. His star pupil was Terance Mathis who finished his career as the NCAA all-time leader with 4,254 receiving yards. Mathis went on to a 13-year NFL career with the Jets, Falcons and Steelers.
“What I’m asking Wayne to do first and foremost is to be our lead mentor with respect to the fundamentals with the ball,” Ellerson said. “Everybody on the field that touches the ball is going to be influenced by his experiences. We were better this year than we were the year before with the ball, but we’ve got a bunch of room to grow. Wayne is going to mentor everyone on the team that touches the ball. He will see these guys with a new set of eyes and bring a new voice and a new emphasis to that crucial fundamental.”
Chaudhari joins the Army staff after spending the last two seasons at the U.S. Military Academy Prep School with Simi. Chaudhari will assist co-defensive coordinator Chris Smeland with the Army safeties.
Chaudhari spent the 2010 season working with the safeties at VMI. He arrived in Virginia after two years as an assistant at San Jose State, where he coached the linebackers in 2008 and safeties in 2009.
“Mayur Chaudhari coming from the prep school has coached a lot of these same guys in this system for the last two years,” Ellerson said. “He’ll be a great help for coach (Chris) Smeland. That’s what he’s here to do, assist coach Smeland on the back end along with Tony Coaxum. Not only does he have some hands-on background with specifically what we’re doing, but in some cases he has more experience with these young guys than we do.”
In addition to the newcomers, some current members of the Army coaching staff will have new responsibilities in 2013. On the offensive side, Shields will relinquish the quarterback coach title to concentrate solely on his coordinator duties. Former receivers coach Andy Guyader will now lead the quarterbacks and fullbacks, along with being the recruiting coordinator. Tucker Waugh will work with the Army receivers and serve with Moses with the running backs. Second-year coach Luke Thompson will focus on special teams after splitting his first season with the Army fullbacks.
Defensively, John Mumford will take over the entire defensive line after concentrating on the ends in recent seasons. Co-coordinator Payam Saadat will work directly with the bandit position in addition to his role in coordinating the front half of the defense. Robert Lyles will now oversee the mike linebackers.