Originally published February 18, 2020 at 02:45p.m., updated February 18, 2020 at 05:35p.m.

Jonathan Wallace hired to become KU’s new RBs coach, special teams coordinator

Assistant has ties to Brent Dearmon

FILE — In this 2014 file photo, Auburn quarterbacks Jonathan Wallace (12) and Sean White (13) run out onto the football field of an NCAA college football game against LSU on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

FILE — In this 2014 file photo, Auburn quarterbacks Jonathan Wallace (12) and Sean White (13) run out onto the football field of an NCAA college football game against LSU on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)


It didn’t take Les Miles long to find the Kansas football team’s next running backs coach.

Less than a week after Tony Hull announced he was leaving the Jayhawks, Jonathan Wallace, a former skill player at Auburn who also previously worked with KU offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon, was hired to take over the position.

KU announced the addition of Wallace to the football staff Tuesday, after it was first reported by Football Scoop and confirmed by a source to the Journal-World.

Wallace, who will also become KU’s special teams coordinator, coached tight ends at Air Force in 2019. The year before that he served as the receivers coach and director of football operations at Bethel, when Dearmon was the head coach for the high-scoring NAIA program.

“Jonathan is a detail-oriented coach, who is also a dynamic recruiter,” Miles stated in a KU release. “He has experience with a championship caliber football program as both a player and a coach and knows the intricacies of the offensive scheme we want to run. Additionally, he has a strong understanding of what we want to accomplish in all phases of the kicking game.”

During his four-year career at Auburn (2012-15), Wallace spent time playing both quarterback and receiver. Some of his college playing days with the Tigers overlapped with Dearmon’s stint in SEC country as an offensive analyst for Auburn, from 2013-14.

After graduating, Wallace worked on Auburn’s staff for two years as a grad assistant before joining Dearmon at Bethel. He worked with quarterbacks and wide receivers at Auburn during the 2017 season.

Wallace started at quarterback the final four games of his freshman season at Auburn. Later, he was on Auburn’s SEC title-winning team in 2013, when the Tigers finished as the national runner-up. During Wallace’s final year at Auburn he was a team captain, and was a selected as a member of the All-State Good Works team.

A native of Phenix City, Ala., Wallace graduated from Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 2015 and a master’s in adult education in 2017. He is married to Ashley Kotero, a former Auburn soccer player and former member of the Mexico national soccer team.

Wallace became the fourth new position coach on Miles’ staff since the conclusion of the 2019 season.

KU hired Jordan Peterson as the safeties coach, Josh Eargle as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, and Chidera Uzo-Diribe as outside linebackers coach.

Those three replaced Clint Bowen, Jeff Hecklinski and Mike Ekeler from Miles’ first KU staff.


Brett McCabe 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Again, continuity underlying change. This approach seems really smart because it creates quite a bit less disruption than bringing in the odd hire from here or there.

Mike Hart 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Hmmm... seems really smart and less disruptive than bring in the odd hire from here or there. This isn't an odd hire? Let's see. He played QB for a few games at Auburn and caught one pass. He was then a graduate assistant. Since he left Auburn, then coached WR and was director of football operations at the NAIA level, before coaching TE for one year last season at Air Force. No RB playing or coaching experience at any level, but he's hired as KU RB's coach. Maybe he's a great hire... maybe Dearmon and Miles have a gem in this guy, but the resume doesn't back it up. I think this qualifies as an "odd hire" on paper for sure. But since the person doing the hiring is Les Miles and not the prior coach.. this seems really smart and less disruptive by not being an odd hire??? Hmm... Ok I got it... logic seems.. natural? Regardless, all the best to Wallace and hopefully he can make a difference!

Joe Black 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I get it, everybody hates on Brett McCabe and usually rightfully so. But in this case he is right in the fact that they are bringing in a coach that is familiar with Dearmon's system. That does create less disruption.

Steven Haag 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I can understand bringing in someone familiar with Dearmon’s system.....2 thoughts: 1. It doesn’t sound like this guy ever played or coached RB’s before. Strange, very strange indeed 2. what happens when Dearmon leaves

Austin Lopez 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I would of liked to have had us go and bring reggie mitchell back!!! But that’s just me.

Dane Pratt 4 months, 2 weeks ago

He's the RB coach at UTEP, a program that over the last decade is almost as bad as ours and over the last two years since he joined the UTEP staff is actually worse than ours. Have to think if he was offered the job he would have jumped at it.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Mike - I understand and to some extent agree with the odd hire comment. It’s also true though that good coaches will learn a variety of positions and coach more than one.

Steve - You’re assuming Dearmon is going to leave. The reality is that if successful, he is our next HC.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The other benefit of hiring Wallace is that it could potentially open recruiting in Alabama.

Ashwin Rao 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Looks like Dearmon is being groomed to be the next HC under Mile's cover. What we are doing is getting the folks that Dearmon liked in the past. I can live with that experiment.

Stephen Johnson 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This hire definitely lacks the resume for the position. That being said maybe it will work.

Brett McCabe 4 months, 2 weeks ago

One of the classic movie lines is from Denzel’s character in Philadelphia when he says “explain this to me like I’m a two year old”. I need to watch that clip anytime I post here, just as a reminder.

Let’s say you are Nick Saban and you decide to hire Lane Kiffin. This works for many reasons but the overarching reason is this; your organization is strong enough to take in interesting personnel or ideas. It doesn’t threaten your rock solid structure. In fact, one of your main concerns might be stagnant thinking.

At Kansas, home of five head coaches in about a dozen years, you need to build stability. One of Beaty’s downfalls was hiring the wrong guys up front and then replacing them with more guys he didn’t know.

Will Miles’ strategy work? No one knows. What’s smart, though, is understanding where you are in the building process. Right now you need consistent thought, stability and all oars in the water. One way to get that is to hire an existing head coach who brings his coaching core with him. We didn’t go that route. KSU did.

So KU must avoid steps backwards and reduce distraction. That’s what Miles is doing.

In terms of this hire, he was announced as a Special Teams coach first, which suggests that Dearmon has a good read on how he’s handling running backs. One must assume that Dearmon is hiring guys who he felt excelled. Isn’t that sort of obvious? I guess not too obvious for some.

Are these the right guys? We shall see. Is the overall approach for KU football smart? That’s beyond question. At the very least, we will enter the season with a unified plan, backed up by coordinated actions in the off season. Now, Mike, grab your blanket. It’s nap time.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The condescension is funny. If we could all just think like Brett.

  1. Assumptions are not obvious that why they’re required to be state up front in good writing.

  2. Whether this is the right guy and the overall approach will be judged by history. It’s not been successful so far.

Brett McCabe 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Agreed Dirk. Dearmon is out looking for bad coaches. His goal is to gut the program.

Even when you are wrong you cling to it like a life raft.

Steven Haag 4 months, 2 weeks ago

@Brett....this guy has almost ZERO experience as running backs coach. According to Dane, he coached RB’s at UTEP and was horrible. Not sure how this is a good hire. Time will tell. However, let me ask this: would you be this nice if Beaty was still head coach and he had made this hire? Not too sure that you could say yes to that question

Mike Hart 4 months, 1 week ago

Steven, it's a moot argument, because McCabe is advocating that Les Miles is pulling the strings here. If you look, we have Dearmon is advocating some of these choices based on his experience with Wallace and others at Bethel. Wallace worked with QB and WR under Dearmon at Bethel. Note also, we had Kevin Wewers join KU football as an offensive analyst. Wewers was co-DC and LB coach at Bethel under Dearmon. When Dearmon left Bethel and went to KU, Wewers took over as OC and QB coach. So Dearmon clearly has Miles' ear. Fact remains, despite being familiar with each other... naming Wallace a RB coach when he has never played the position nor coached it previously... does indeed constitute an "odd hire", Mr McCabe. And to answer your question, Steven: If Beaty had made this hire, we would be hearing about what an incompetent choice this was... a guy with no RB coaching experience. But since this is Les Miles hire... it's brilliant.

Stephen Johnson 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Unfortunately, despite all my optimism, I saw no difference between last years team under Miles and those under Beatty. 3-9 in 2018 - guess what? 3-9 in 2019! Surely, Miles (a better coach?) would have produced better results than Beatty with the same talent. Nope. Same results.

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