Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Lance Leipold’s 1st KU coaching staff blends former Buffalo assistants with KU holdovers

Jones, 4 other assistants being retained

New Kansas head football coach Lance Leipold talks with media members and guests during an introductory press conference on Monday, May 3, 2021 at the KU football indoor practice facility.

New Kansas head football coach Lance Leipold talks with media members and guests during an introductory press conference on Monday, May 3, 2021 at the KU football indoor practice facility.


Lance Leipold’s first staff at the University of Kansas will consist of what the head football coach considers to be a “great blend” of former Buffalo assistants and returning KU coaches.

KU announced all 10 of Leipold’s assistants on Wednesday. As previous reports indicated would be the case, Brian Borland came in from UB as the Jayhawks’ new defensive coordinator, Andy Kotelnicki will take over the role of offensive coordinator, and Emmett Jones will remain on staff as the Jayhawks’ receivers coach.

Also following Leipold from Buffalo to Lawrence are offensive line coach Scott Fuchs, linebackers coach Chris Simpson and quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski.

Leipold ultimately decided to keep five of the assistants who were on Les Miles’ last KU staff: Jones, defensive line coach Kwahn Drake, cornerbacks coach Chevis Jackson, special teams coordinator Jake Schoonover and running backs coach Jonathan Wallace.

“I am extremely proud of the staff we have assembled here at Kansas,” Leipold stated in a release. “It’s no secret how much I value continuity among a coaching staff, and I truly believe we’ve achieved that here. This is a great blend of coaches who know the philosophies and principles I want to bring to this program and coaches who know the ins and outs of Kansas football as well as our current personnel.”

Leipold described his assistants as “elite talent developers, excellent recruiters and hard workers” who are ready to “do their very best” for KU’s players.

Borland worked with Leipold at both UB (2015-20) and Wisconsin-Whitewater (1994-2014).

“He has directed some dominant defenses throughout his career,” Leipold said of Borland, “and I know he is eager to get things going here.”

Similarly, Kotelnicki and Leipold have worked together since Leipold was winning national championships (six in total) at Division III Whitewater.

“He does an excellent job leading our offense and maximizing the strengths of our team each season,” Leipold said of the OC. “He is a smart and detailed coach, who has guided some very productive offenses throughout his career. Our guys are really going to enjoy being coached by Andy because he relates with his players so well.”


Andy Eisch/Photo courtesy of KU Athletics

Kansas interim head football coach Emmett Jones leads players through a drill during a spring practice at the team's indoor facility.

Jones, of course, served as the Jayhawks’ interim head coach throughout spring football. Leipold said the Jayhawks are “very excited” to keep Jones, now in his third year at KU.

“It’s extremely obvious after talking to people here that Emmett brought great energy to every practice and pushed this program in the right direction,” Leipold said, referencing the team’s 15 spring practices under Jones’ guidance. “He is an excellent wide receivers coach and recruiter, and I am very excited about having the opportunity to coach with him.”

A former offensive line coach at Buffalo, Wyoming, North Dakota State and Southern Illinois to name a few, Fuchs played O-line at North Dakota State in the early 1990s.

Said Leipold: “Scott is a former national champion as a player and a coach and understands the effort and sacrifice it takes to succeed up front. His offensive lines have been strong and well-coached, and that’s what I’m looking forward to here.”

Simpson has coached linebackers at Buffalo, Eastern Michigan and Grand Valley State in the past.

“Chris did a stellar job with our linebackers at Buffalo,” Leipold said, “and helped develop and recruit some very productive players. He and Coach Borland complement each other very well because of Chris’s knowledge of our scheme and history on our staff.”

Zebrowski, Buffalo’s quarterbacks coach the previous four years, also coached QBs at Minnesota (2011-15) and Northern Illinois (2010) before reuniting with Leipold at UB. Zebrowski also was Whitewater’s offensive coordinator and QBs coach form 2007-09.

“We have some talented quarterbacks on our roster here,” Leipold stated, “and I think Jim is going to do a great job of working with them and developing them. He’s worked with several different types of quarterbacks in his career and can tailor his style to his personnel.”

Like Jones, Jackson and Drake were among Miles’ first hires, when he took over the program in late 2018.

KU’s new head coach, Leipold described the the cornerback group, which includes sophomore standout Karon Prunty, as a position with “exciting young” players.

“Chevis has stood out in his recruiting and development since joining the staff,” Leipold said, “and that will no doubt continue moving forward.”

Drake came to KU after working with former defensive coordinator DJ Eliot at Colorado.

“We have a lot of young players with great potential on the defensive line, and it’s imperative Kwahn continues to develop them and work with them,” Leipold said.

Schoonover was hired by Miles this past February, coming to KU from Bowling Green. Although he was initially an outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, Leipold will have Schoonover handle special teams exclusively.

“He began putting his fingerprints on the special teams this spring,” Leipold said, “and we certainly want to continue that momentum into next season.”

KU football 2021 coaching staff

Head coach - Lance Leipold

Defensive coordinator - Brian Borland

Offensive coordinator - Andy Kotelnicki

Receivers - Emmett Jones

Cornerbacks - Chevis Jackson

D-line - Kwahn Drake

O-line - Scott Fuchs

QBs - Jim Zebrowski

LBs - Chris Simpson

RBs - Jonathan Wallace

Special teams coordinator - Jake Schoonover


Doug Roberts 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm excited. This group just feels like they know what they're doing. Still gonna take 3 years though, I think, to see real progress.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm impressed with the coaching staff. I think I'm the only one surprised that Jones was retained, but again I hope that it works out for our receivers. I'm also hoping we can find a couple of DEs for Drake to coach, since ours seem to be looking elsewhere.

Brett McCabe 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We lost two DL’s but keep the DL coach. Leipold must have been very impressed by the development of the the D Line by Drake.

Keeping five coaches from a winless team was probably the price that had to be paid to keep the roster from turning into vapor.

Leipold may have the biggest job in front of him since Snyder took over KSU. Because KU wasted 10+ years doing stupid things in football, we now have to deal with the transfer portal (which I support), which may turn us into a Triple A team for bigger programs.

Oh yeah, and realignment is just around the corner.

I don’t think that this is an overstatement: this may be the last chance for KU football. If this doesn’t get turned around to a minimally competent program, we may be requesting a spot in the Big East.

I like Leipold as the hire. He has done it before. He knows what he is up against. He is a proven professional. Buy your tickets. Support the program. The grind starts now.

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

KU makes a lot of money on football...I wouldn't be surprised if it still makes more money on football then basketball. The true difference is KU makes more money on basketball then most schools.

KU is a valued member of the Big12 and there are a lot schools that would be dropped from membership of the conference before KU.

But yes support the program.

David Robinett 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank God for the new O line and QB coaches. I think we could be surprised in years 1.

Just give me weekly improvement. (and 3 wins)

Jeff Coffman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree...I think the QB coach is our best friend in this case and to have a OLine and QB coach that have been working together for years, is something that we have needed for a while.

Let's hope that they can start putting a foundation together, to make it all work. 3 wins would be impressive this year.

Joey Meyer 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I don’t think realignment is as potentially devastating as it was looking even just a few years ago. Playoff expansion is our friend here.

If playoffs expand to just 8 teams and the Big XII gets an automatic bid, then OU and Texas are by far best served by staying in this conference. If they hold, the conference will continue to exist and KU will be fine in the long run with a seat at the P5 table.

Dirk Medema 6 months, 3 weeks ago

At one point, some supporters believed that the former team was doing almost everything right. Not sure if that was the case when we started playing so many young players, but I think the win total correlates with the age of the lineup.

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