Meet College Football’s Next Batch of Rising Star Head Coaches

by Connor Jackson

Photo courtesy of SMU athletics

With guys like Billy Napier, Dan Lanning, Marcus Freeman, and others settling into jobs everywhere, a new crop of head coaches is on the rise.

Over the next few seasons, message boards will be clamoring with fans asking for these guys to be hired.

Without further ado, here are college football’s next rising star head coaches:

Rhett Lashlee – SMU Head Coach

At just 39 years old, Lashlee has a track record that speaks for itself. Since becoming the offensive coordinator at Samford at 28 years old, Lashlee has steadily climbed the coaching ranks.  Lashlee had spent the majority of his career as an assistant under Gus Malzahn at Auburn, where he was on staff for a 2010 national championship and 2013 SEC championship for the Tigers.

The former Arkansas quarterback would later end up at Miami as the offensive coordinator under Manny Diaz. There, he coached up quarterbacks like D’Eriq King and Tyler Van Dyke. Lashlee will replace Sonny Dykes, who left SMU to become the head coach at TCU.

While the jury is still out on Lashlee, he has had plenty of success as an assistant coach. Also, one source close to the program raved about Lashlee’s ability to handle the new era of the transfer portal. With uncertainty looming at Auburn under Bryan Harsin, Lashlee could be a name to watch when and if that job comes open.

Glenn Schumann – Georgia Co-Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach

Schumann has had about as ideal of a start possible to his coaching career. From 2008 until now, Schumann has spent his entire career learning from Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. It has resulted in five national championship rings.

On top of that, he has mentored numerous Butkus Aaward winners and NFL Draft picks at linebacker. He’s also worked alongside Dan Lanning, the new head coach at Oregon, as defensive coordinator. With Lanning headed to Eugene, play-calling duties will be given to Will Muschamp, but Schumann’s value as a coach should not go unnoticed.

He is an elite recruiter; in fact, he is one of the best recruiters in the country. Schumann might be a few years out from becoming a head coach, but he has the upside to become one of the best in the business.

Tommy Rees – Notre Dame Offensive Coordinator

After appearing in 50 games at quarterback for Notre Dame, Tommy Rees has made his mark on the Fighting Irish as a coach as well. Since arriving on staff as the quarterbacks coach in 2017, Rees has worked his way up the ranks. He has served as the Irish offensive coordinator since 2020.

After head coach Brian Kelly left South Bend for the LSU job, Rees stayed loyal to the Irish and stuck around to work alongside Marcus Freeman. By all accounts, Rees is one of the brightest young coaches in the game and has been for a while. It is only a matter of time before he takes that next step to becoming a head coach.

However, pulling Rees away from his alma mater will be easier said than done. Rees is likely still a couple of seasons away from making that jump.

Kendal Briles – Arkansas Offensive Coordinator

Kendal Briles was one of the best young coaches in the game when he was at Baylor under his father Art Briles. Turmoil within that program ultimately hurt his stock as a coach. However, he has climbed up the ranks once again and has solidified himself as one of the better coordinators in the SEC.

After one-year stops at Florida Atlantic, Houston, and Florida State, Briles is gearing up for his third season leading the Razorbacks’ offense. His unique, fast-paced offense led Arkansas to its best season in years in 2021. It also helped turn KJ Jefferson into one of the best signal-callers in the SEC.

Briles has a reputation for being a good recruiter. His fun offensive philosophy should be enough for someone to pull the trigger, even if his name scares some people. Don’t be shocked if a Group of 5 school gives Briles a shot in the next few years. It could be as early as 2023.

Jeff Lebby – Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator

You will undoubtedly hear Lebby’s name more than any other coach on this list over the next few years. It may even be to the point where it’s annoying. At 38 years old, he has already led some of the best offenses in recent college football history.

In 2018, he helped McKenzie Milton develop into a Heisman Trophy contender down the stretch as UCF completed its second straight perfect regular season. Then at Ole Miss, he did more of the same working under Lane Kiffin. Lebby will be entering his first year as offensive coordinator at his alma mater. By all accounts, he is sure to be a huge hit.

Because of his pedigree on and off the field, Lebby is someone to keep an eye out for. If Kiffin does end up leaving Ole Miss, Lebby could be one of the first calls for the Rebels.

Honorable Mention

UCF defensive coordinator Travis Williams

Houston defensive coordinator Doug Belk

Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham

Charlotte head coach Will Healy

Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee

Florida State offensive coordinator Alex Atkins

Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley

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