Texas Football: 4 early candidates for Horns to replace co-DC Jeff Choate

Coleman Hutzler. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Coleman Hutzler. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 4

A big part of the Texas football coaching staff has reportedly taken a head coaching job at another FBS program. On Dec. 4, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Texas co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Jeff Choate is being hired by the Nevada Wolfpack to be its next head coach.

While the timing is difficult with the Longhorns preparing for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 against the No. 2 Washington Huskies, Choate will be splitting his time between Nevada and Texas this postseason. In this day and age of college football, coaches have to get their footing at their new programs before the Early Signing Period.

Possible early candidates for Texas football to hire to replace co-DC/LB coach Jeff Choate

There is so much chaos around the FBS landscape on the coaching carousel, the recruiting trail, and the NCAA Transfer Portal that it’s important to get as many pieces in place as possible to build a program before signing day in mid-December.

Texas won’t have to find an immediate replacement for Choate since he is sticking around through the postseason. But the Longhorns will still do their homework in the coming days and weeks to find some quality candidates to replace Choate next offseason.

Here are four early external candidates the Longhorns could target to replace Choate on the defensive coaching staff.

Bobby April, Stanford DC/LB coach

If Texas wants a promising defensive coach with experience at the collegiate and NFL levels, first-year Stanford Cardinal defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Bobby April III is a great candidate to replace Choate on the staff. April was one of the rising stars among defensive coaches in college football when he left the Wisconsin Badgers staff last offseason to go to Palo Alto under head coach Troy Taylor.

He helped to develop multiple All-Big Ten and eventual NFL linebackers during his time as the OLB coach at Wisconsin from 2018-2022. Wisconsin also ranked in the top five in the FBS in total defense in April’s last three years on the defensive staff.

Before he took the job as Wisconsin’s LB coach in 2018, April spent time on staff with the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets in the NFL for six seasons in the early-to-mid 2010s. He’s coached multiple All-Pro linebackers in the NFL, including two-time Pro Bowler Lorenzo Alexander.

April’s good work at Wisconsin earned him the first defensive coordinator job of his college coaching career at Stanford. He joined first-year head coach Taylor as he looks to rebuild the Stanford program in the post-David Shaw era.

Stanford’s defense wasn’t in great shape when April joined the staff last offseason as the DC/LB coach. As a result, Stanford hit some speed bumps in April’s first year as the DC this fall, ranking 132nd in the FBS in total defense and points allowed per game.

The tough 2023 campaign for April and the Stanford defense is the argument against potentially hiring him to Texas to replace Choate. The argument for him is that he has a proven track record of developing and coaching elite linebacker talent in college and the NFL.

April also recruited some of Wisconsin’s top-ranked signees in the late 2010s and early 2020s, most notably All-American four-star linebacker Nick Herbig.