Western's new coaching staff features familiar faces

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Tim Lester

While new Western Michigan coach Tim Lester didn't keep many of the holdovers from P.J. Fleck's staff, he has brought back some familiar faces.

In announcing his coaching staff Wednesday morning, Lester revealed several who have spent time in Kalamazoo.

Five of Lester's nine assistant coaches have previous ties to Western Michigan, including his co-defensive coordinators, Tim Daoust and Lou Esposito.

Daoust, who is listed as defensive coordinator in the Western Michigan news release, coached the defensive line and secondary at Western Michigan from 2006-09. Most recently he was defensive coordinator at Ball State.

Esposito, listed as co-defensive coordinator, coached the defensive line at Western Michigan from 2010-12 before leaving to become defensive coordinator at Ferris State and head coach at Davenport, which went 6-5 in its inaugural season in 2016.

David Duggan, a member of Fleck's staff, will stay on to coach a linebacker unit that includes such returning stars as Robert Spillane, Asantay Brown and Justin Tranquill.

Cory Sanders will coach the defensive backs after serving as defensive coordinator at Division II West Florida and head coach at Division II Saint Joseph's.

The biggest name to join the staff comes on offense, in coordinator Kevin Johns, who joins Western Michigan after a successful stint at Indiana. There, he oversaw an offense in 2015 that became the fourth team in Football Bowl Subdivision history with a 3,500-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and a 1,000-yard receiver. Johns wasn't retained by new Indiana coach Tom Allen.

Johns' offensive staff features two men with Western Michigan ties, including offensive-line coach Jake Moreland, who played with Lester from 1996-99 and ranks second among Broncos tight ends with 1,414 career receiving yards. He coached WMU tight ends, including Tony Scheffler, from 2004-12. He also has coached tight ends at Air Force and Syracuse.

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Bill Kenney, meanwhile, returns from Fleck's staff, which he's been on since 2013. He will coach tight ends and tackles.

Eric Evans is the new running-backs coach, after stints as the running-backs coach at UAB and the offensive coordinator at Dayton. He'll have plenty to work with at Western Michigan, including star backs Jamauri Bogan and Jarvion Franklin.

The offensive staff is rounded out by wide-receivers coach Ashton Aikens, who comes to Western Michigan from Southern Illinois, where he also was wide-receivers coach. Previously, he was a special-teams assistant at Northwestern.

Lester was given approximately $1.1 million to fill out his nine-man coaching staff. Financial terms of each coach's contract were not immediately known.

Fleck took most of his offensive staff with him when he left for Minnesota, but passed on most of his defensive staff, including coordinator Ed Pinkham, who wasn't retained by Lester after losing out on the head coaching job. Pinkham could end up with a job somewhere in the ACC.

Lester also filled out his support staff, which doesn't count toward the $1.1-million coaching pool. That staff includes newcomers Drew Robinson (director of football operations), Kyle Derickson (director of player personnel), Grant Geib (director of strength and conditioning) and Gavin Roberts (assistant director of strength and conditioning), and holdovers Arno Rheinberger (athletic trainer) and Taylor Jorgensen (equipment manager).

Because he was traveling leading up to National Signing Day next week, Lester wasn't available Wednesday to comment on his new hires.