This week, we’re taking a closer look at the members of the new Texas coaching staff under Charlie Strong. The third part of our two-a-days series focuses on two defensive coaches who followed Strong from Louisville, and what they’ll bring to their respective position groups.
When Duane Akina announced in January that he wasn’t returning for a 14th season at Texas, the response from Longhorns fans and ex-players was understandable disappointment. He was, after all, the coach who helped make Texas “DBU.” Akina, who’s now coaching at Stanford, embraced that tradition like nobody else.
But when it comes to pride and passion for Longhorns defense backs, Bedford might be the perfect successor. He played cornerback at UT from 1977-81 and developed into a starter and a captain.
Get Bedford talking about Texas’ legacy in the secondary and he’ll go full-on historian, even mentioning that he caught up with two former “DBU” members -- Johnnie Johnson and William Graham -- while recruiting their sons at a recent junior day.
“‘DBU’ started with those guys. Raymond Clayborn, Johnnie Johnson, William Graham, Derrick Hatchett, Glenn Blackwood, Ricky Churchman, that’s when it started,” Bedford said. “Fred Akers came here and turned things around, said we’re going to play man-to-man, and almost every guy I played with went to the NFL. Jerry Gray, Mossy Cade, Craig Curry, Fred Acorn, Jitter Fields; the list goes on and on and on.”
Mack Brown and Akina kept it going, producing 14 All-Big 12 defensive backs and 11 who played in the NFL last season. They made sure today’s players knew and respected those DBs who came before them.
Bedford intends to keep that tradition going. This means an awful lot to him.
“We’re not just ‘DBU,’” he said. “We want to make it Linebacker U and D-Line U, whatever it takes to get the best players in the state of Texas to come here and get this program back to the top where it belongs.”
He felt like he’d won the lottery when he found out he was coming home to Texas, and it’s easy to see Bedford is excited about selling and signing the next generation of Texas defensive backs.
“This is the place to live in the state of Texas, just like this university is the best university in this state,” Bedford said. “Why would you not want to live in Austin, Texas, and go to the University of Texas? I just don’t know who would do something else.”
Believe it or not, Jean-Mary has more ties to the state of Texas than even he might’ve realized.
He played linebacker at Appalachian State for the legendary Jerry Moore, a Texas native who played at Baylor and was head coach at Texas Tech.
His defensive coordinator there was Ruffin McNeill, who went on to coach at Texas Tech for 10 years before becoming head coach at ECU. Jean-Mary’s position coach when he arrived at App State was George Edwards, who later coached linebackers for the Dallas Cowboys and is now the Vikings’ defensive coordinator.
And his roommate and best friend during those college years? Dexter Coakley, the future three-time Pro Bowler for the Cowboys.
So, yes, he’s picked up some knowledge about this state along the way thanks to those friendships.
“It almost feels like I was born and raised here,” Jean-Mary said.
A self-described college football junkie, Jean-Mary said following Strong and Bedford to Texas was a no-brainer because he understood the magnitude of coming to a program like this one.
He’s proud of what he accomplished in four years at Louisville. Jean-Mary knows he left a program that’s build to succeed in 2014 and beyond. But coaching at Texas -- and staying with Strong -- was too good to turn down.
“At the end of the day, you only get so many opportunities to really coach at a tradition-rich school like this and feel like you can take your next step in your career as an individual coach, but also helping a team take the next step as a program,” he said.
Jean-Mary inherits a group of linebackers that could return every contributor from 2013, though five of those players -- Jordan Hicks, Steve Edmond, Dalton Santos, Tevin Jackson and Timothy Cole -- are recovering from injuries. He likes this group’s potential and depth once everyone gets healthy, and his expectations are simple.
“We all come from the same school of defense: We want to have smart, tough and dependable guys,” Jean-Mary said. “We’re not going to be too complex, but we do want to have guys who can handle different situations.”
And whatever situations Jean-Mary finds himself in at Texas, he’s glad he has more than few Texans he can call for advice.