Reports: Florida expected to add Raiders LB coach Sal Sunseri as assistant

By Adam Silverstein
January 3, 2018
Reports: Florida expected to add Raiders LB coach Sal Sunseri as assistant
Football

Image Credit: Oakland Raiders / NFL

Less than 24 hours after it was reported that Oakland Raiders linebackers coach Sal Sunseri was a “strong candidate” to join Dan Mullen‘s initial Florida Gators coaching staff, it appears to be a done deal.

Sunseri, 58, will join Florida as Mullen’s defensive line coach, according to long-time NFL insider Adam Caplan, who reports move may be announced as early as Wednesday.

A veteran assistant with an extensive resume, Sunseri began his career at his alma mater Pittsburgh in 1985 and even served as the Panthers’ interim head coach in 1992. He was on Nick Saban’s first LSU staff as linebackers coach and special teams coordinator in 2000, moved to Michigan State for a year (2001) and then led the Carolina Panthers’ defensive line for six seasons (2002-08).

Saban rehired Sunseri as assistant head coach and linebackers coach at Alabama (2009-11), and he only left for his first shot at being a defensive coordinator at Tennessee in 2012. After Derek Dooley got fired by the Vols, Sunseri moved over to Florida State as defensive ends coach (2013-14) and helped lead the Seminoles to a national title. He’s spent the last three seasons as linebackers coach with the Raiders.

Mullen has now hired seven of his 10 on-field coaches, though only one — defensive coordinator Todd Grantham — has a specific position at this time. Sunseri joins Charlton Warren (secondary coach, possible special teams coordinator) as the other defensive assistants.

The others are all on the offensive side of the ball, including Billy Gonzales (co-offensive coordinator, wide receivers), John Hevesy (co-offensive coordinator, offensive line or tight ends) and Brian Johnson (quaterbacks coach). Greg Knox (running backs coach, possible special teams coordinator) is expected to join his fellow former Mississippi State assistants now that his time leading the Bulldogs in their bowl game is completed.

All positions listed in parenthesis above are expected roles and not officially announced job titles.

Only current running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider and linebackers coach Tim Skipper remain as potential holdovers from Jim McElwain’s staff. One would think Seider is the most likely to be retained, though it is unknown how that would shake out from a job perspective. It appears as if Mullen and Seider have gotten along well recruiting together as of late.

Coaching positions without obvious on-staff or holdover candidates at this time include offensive line or tight ends (whichever Hevesy does not coach) and linebackers (if Skipper is not retained). Either Seider or Knox can coach running backs, while either Warren or Knox can coach special teams.

Mullen has also locked up his director of strength and conditioning, bringing over Nick Savage from the Bulldogs for the same role with the Gators.

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