It's rare at the University of Texas for the focal points of an offseason not to rest squarely on its players. The stability that comes with having the same head coach for 16 seasons will do that to a program.
This spring appears to be one of those exceptions, though, as the Longhorns prepare to embark on their first spring practice under new head coach Charlie Strong and his staff, which consists of only one holdover from the Mack Brown era (Bruce Chambers).
Because of this, LonghornDigest is going to take a closer look at each member of the staff leading up to the first day of spring practice on March 18.
On Tuesday he took a closer look at offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline.
Today we'll take a look at a coach not only tasked with leading Texas' linebackers but also directing the program's recruiting efforts.
Assistant strength and conditioning coach at Louisville, 2000; graduate assistant at South Carolina, 2001-02; secondary coach at North Alabama, 2003; linebackers coach at Georgia Tech, 2004-09; assistant head coach/linebackers, Louisville, 2010-13.
The Jean-Mary Digest:
There's an undeniable passion that a linebackers coach must have for the game, more so than many positions because of the physical nature it entails. Couple that passion with the drive it takes a recruiting coordinator and you've got the inner-workings of Jean-Mary. His track record over his 15-year coaching career has steadily progressed, and downright skyrocketed in his last four seasons spent with Louisville. An assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the Cardinals, Jean-Mary helped Louisville amass a 37-15 record and back-to-back Big East championships (2011, 2012). In five of his six seasons as Georgia Tech's linebackers coach, the Yellow Jackets were ranked among the nation's top 30 in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense.
Greg Robinson (linebackers) and Patrick Suddes (Director of Player Personnel)
How he differs from Robinson and Suddes:
When first trying to pinpoint differences in Robinson and Jean-Mary, the most glaring might be the two-decades of coaching experience Texas' former defensive coordinator (36 seasons) has on Jean-Mary (15). Other than that, they are both fiery, energetic coaches with an unquestioned ability for drawing the most out of their players. Suddes was very much a forward-thinker in his short tenure with Texas. He is credited with orchestrating a Sophomore Day, which was the first of its kind at Texas, convinced Brown to open summer mini camps to the media, and organized a late-summer recruiting event to keep the Longhorns fresh on recruits minds as the school year neared. Not only that, but Suddes took a huge burden off the coaches shoulders by handling terms on which coaches were going where on the road, and also kept Brown up to speed on pertinent recruit news (birthdays, social media happenings, etc.). It's yet to be seen if Jean-Mary will build off the ideas Suddes put into place, including media access to summer camps. He does have prior experience recruiting the state of Texas in his time with Georgia Tech and former Yellow Jackets head coach Chan Gailey, who held the same position with the Dallas Cowboys.
Player he will most improve:
Senior Demarco Cobbs
If he is healthy, after sitting out all of 2013 from an ACL tear suffered against TCU in 2012, big things could be in store for one of the most athletic players on this roster. A former defensive back, Cobbs appeared to be turning the corner when he started six games in 2012. If Jean-Mary can find a spot on the field that allows Cobbs' athleticism to shine, there's no doubt he could see starters snaps at some point in the season.
Recruits will love:
His winning pedigree. Over the past two years, Louisville has been the nation's fourth-winningest program. In 2013, The Cards led the nation in total defense (251.5 yards per game), rushing defense (80.7 ypg), sacks (3.31 per game), fewest first downs allowed (183), and third-down conversion defense (26.7%). He understands what Strong and Bedford are trying to do on offense as well as anybody, and has the trust in those two to get the job done. Plus, for many of them, he'll have recruited them at some point or another and already built relationships with them and their families.
Predicting coaching future:
All college coaches have to have a passion for recruiting, but you've really got to love that aspect of the game to be a recruiting coordinator. This is Jean-Mary's first test wearing that hat so you'd like to give it at least a year or two to figure out if that's something he loves to do. If it is, he could go the way of Chambers, who was either co-recruiting coordinator or the lone recruiting coordinator at Texas from 2005-13. He's experienced great success with Strong thus far and don't imagine he'd break that bond anytime soon, regardless of how much he loves or loathes being the recruiting coordinator.