Last September, 247 Sports unveiled their annual list of the top 30 college football coaches who were under 30 years old. The Mountain West Conference had six of their assistant coaches make the list, which bodes well for the conference’s collective ability to identify young coaching talent. Equally noteworthy, those six coaches come from six different programs, which shows the young talent is evenly spread around the conference. Today’s post will review their impact on their respective 2021 seasons and discuss their specific outlooks for 2022.
This year, since only one Mountain West coach made the list for 2021, the coaches on the 2020 list who are still with MWC schools will also be reviewed.
Matt Miller (Boise State, WR coach)
Why he made the list in 2020 (via 247): Boise State’s all-time receptions leader, Miller, rejoined the program this offseason as passing game coordinator. His jump to the FBS followed a four-year stint at Montana State, where he spent most of the last two years as offensive coordinator. The Bobcats’ offense was among the best in the FCS last season, ranking 25th nationally in total offense during a campaign in which they reached the playoff semifinals. The former three-star prospect also served a stint as Montana State’s recruiting coordinator.
2021 recap: Miller oversaw a polarizing group of wide receivers. On the one hand, Khalil Shakir cemented his legacy at Boise State while Stefan Cobbs broke out and looks like the next star player at that position. On the other hand, one or two other wide receivers seemed to regress. How much that can or should be attributed to Miller is unknown, but it is something to take note of. On the recruiting front, Miller was able to secure two commitments, from players who both have high upsides and one specifically who could end up being a star.
2022 outlook: With Shakir gone, this could be Miller’s toughest task in his short career with Boise State. He needs to develop the talented recruits he has sooner rather than later. There is a good deal of skill at the position, but the question is can it translate to the field? In some ways, his skill level as a coach will be on display with what he does with his group this upcoming season.
Roman Sapolu (Fresno State, OL coach)
Why he made the list in 2021 (via 247): One of the best young offensive line coaches in college football, Sapolu earned a dual promotion this offseason to offensive line coach (he previously assisted new OC Ryan Grubb with the unit) and run game coordinator. The Bulldogs ranked 34th nationally last season in rushing yards per play, while finishing in the top 50 nationally in pass protection. Sapolu, a former Oregon State player, came to Fresno State from Idaho State, where he led an o-line that had two all-conference performers and paced an offense that tailed 5,403 yards.
2021 recap: Sapolu showed why he is one of the brightest young offensive line coaches out west today. As the run game coordinator, he oversaw the steady duo of Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims, who formed the one-two punch rushing attack for the Bulldogs. He also monitored strong performances along the offensive line, making Fresno State’s unit formidable.
2022 outlook: Due to getting caught in a coaching change, Sapolu is actually leaving Fresno State but staying within the conference. In 2022, he will be taking over the offensive line duties for Hawaii. He is actually replacing the next person on our list.
A’Lique Terry (Hawaii, Offensive Line)
Why he made the list (via 247): Terry spent the last two seasons at Oregon, and he couldn’t have had a better pair of o-line mentors than Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal and o-line coach Alex Mirabal, who are two of the best in the country. Terry coached under both of them the last two years as a GA, working with those like All-American OT Penei Sewell on a day-to-day basis. Terry, who played at Wake Forest and started his coaching career in Winston-Salem, was hired at Hawaii this March. A protegee of LeCharles Bentley, one of the top private o-line coaches in the country, those who know Terry think his future is extremely bright. Said one source of Terry: “He’s special.”
2021 Recap: Terry showed why he was so highly thought of back in August. He navigated injuries to his unit but found a way to mix and match the players to get the most production possible out of them. There were issues with the Hawaii football team’s play in 2021, but the offensive line was way down on the list.
2022 Outlook: With the coaching change, Terry found himself not returning to Hawaii. However, there is a good chance he wouldn’t have done so anyway. He has shot up the coaching ranks once again, this time landing in the NFL. Terry is now the assistant defensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings. It is a huge for this young coaching star, who figures to have a long and bright career.
Other coaches to keep an eye on heading into 2022:
Ages were not easy to find for coaches, so some of these below may be on the other side of 30. Still, they are rising stars in the coaching ranks.
Chad Savage (Colorado State, Wide Receivers)
2021 Recap: Savage was the tight ends coach for Nevada last season. While in that position, he guided Cole Turner to put up video game-like numbers in the air-raid offense and made the TE spot a dynamic play-making position.
2022 Outlook: Savage will move to coach wide receivers for Colorado State following the departure of Timmy Chang to Hawaii. He will have some familiar faces from his Nevada days, as well as some newcomers who have enormous amounts of potential. He already has an impressive resume and can add to it next season.
Jalen Ortiz (Nevada, Cornerbacks)
2021 Recap: Ortiz is a name who could burst on the scene as one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks as soon as next season. He is building a good resume, being a defensive graduate assistant first with Wyoming and then with Oregon for the past two seasons. Both schools have consistently had strong defensive units, so it is safe to say he studied under the best.
2022 Outlook: Ortiz is stepping into his first full-time role as the cornerbacks’ coach at Nevada. Like the rest of the roster, he is inheriting a rebuilding unit but could have a big impact in future success as he attempts to lay the groundwork this year. If he impresses, it could help him rise up to become one of the better young secondary coaches in college football.
Aaron Bohl (Wyoming, Linebackers)
2021 Recap: Bohl oversaw one of the best players and units in the conference, as the linebacker position at Wyoming, which has produced NFL-level talent. He should get a lot of credit for the development of Chad Muma over the years and, truthfully, has emerged out of his father’s shadow and into his own as an excellent position coach.
2022 Outlook: Bohl should once again lead the strongest unit on the Cowboy defense. He will mold the next wave of stud linebackers, with Easton Gibbs being the most likely to step into the starring role next season.