Familiar faces dot Lance Leipold’s first Kansas football coaching staff
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Lance Leipold has finalized his first Kansas football coaching staff.
Leipold on Wednesday announced the 10 assistant coaches that will join him this fall at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium for his inaugural season as Jayhawk head coach. Plucked away from Buffalo on April 30 by way of a six-year, $16.5 million contract, Leipold honored his promise to make his first KU staff “a blend” — it’s comprised of five coaches who served under Leipold with the Bulls and five who were assistants on last year’s Jayhawk squad.
Among the newcomers to the sidelines at Kivisto Field are Brian Borland (defensive coordinator), Andy Kotelnicki (offensive coordinator), Scott Fuchs (offensive line), Jim Zebrowski (quarterbacks) and Chris Simpson (linebackers). Returning KU coaches include Emmett Jones (wide receivers), Kwahn Drake (defensive line), Chevis Jackson (cornerbacks), Jake Schoonover (special teams coordinator) and Jonathan Wallace (running backs).
Leipold said he is “extremely proud” of the staff he’s assembled.
“It’s no secret how much I value continuity among a coaching staff, and I truly believe we’ve achieved that here,” Leipold said in a news release. “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. We have elite talent developers, excellent recruiters and hard workers ready to do their very best for the student-athletes on this roster.”
Borland, who has more than 30 years of coaching experience, served as defensive coordinator for Leipold at both Buffalo and Wisconsin-Whitewater, a Division III program that Leipold took to six national championship victories. A member of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Borland coached Buffalo to a No. 7 ranking nationally in total defense in 2019.
Leipold said he’s “very happy” Borland will once again be at his side.
“He has directed some dominant defenses throughout his career, and I know he is eager to get things going here,” Leipold said. “Brian has ties to this area, having coached at Baker University, and will undoubtedly do great things here in Lawrence. There are obviously some very talented offenses in the Big 12, and I know Brian and our staff will be up to the challenge each week.”
Kotelnicki, who also worked on Leipold’s staffs at Buffalo and Wisconsin-Whitewater, showcased a knack for offensive adaptability with the Bulls. Buffalo ranked 22nd nationally in passing yards per game in 2017, then finished 10th in rushing yards per game in 2018 before climbing to seventh in that statistic in 2019.
“(Kotelnicki) does an excellent job leading our offense and maximizing the strengths of our team each season,” Leipold said. “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. He is going to do a great job in this role, and I’m excited for him.”
That Leipold retained five assistants already on the Jayhawk coaching staff is arguably a win for the team’s player base, which faced uncertainty throughout the spring practice slate following the buyout of the remaining three years on embattled former head coach Les Miles’ contract.
Perhaps the most important returnee is Jones, a key recruiter who served as interim head coach prior to Leipold’s arrival. Jones, who last served in that role in the team’s spring game on May 1, had the public support of more than a dozen players when KU was considering which assistant would replace Miles on a temporary basis.
“We are very excited to keep Emmett on staff. He did a tremendous job leading this program during the spring and made it a productive month for the student-athletes,” Leipold said. “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. He is an excellent wide receivers coach and recruiter, and I am very excited about having the opportunity to coach with him.”