Texas Football: Kenny Baker listed among impactful SEC hires

Texas football
Texas football / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A byproduct of the elevated success of the Texas football program in the last couple of years under head coach Steve Sarkisian is coaching turnover. Texas lost co-DC/LB coach Jeff Choate to the Nevada Wolfpack, where he took the head coaching job a few months ago.

The Longhorns also lost defensive line coach Bo Davis to the LSU Tigers earlier this offseason, although for a bit of a different reason than Choate. Davis made a lateral move regarding job title since he took the DL coach position under head coach Brian Kelly at LSU.

New Texas football DL coach Kenny Baker listed among impactful SEC coaching hires in 2024

Sarkisian has made a habit in the last couple of years of replacing good assistant coaches with even better hires. A good example of that was Sarkisian and the Longhorns replacing former RB coach Stan Drayton with Tashard Choice during the 2022 offseason and hiring Chris Jackson away from the Jacksonville Jaguars to replace Brennan Marion as WR coach.

These new defensive coaching hires will put that theory to the test to see if Sarkisian can consistently upgrade his staff in key roles such as co-DC entering the SEC in 2024.

Sarkisian hired former Arizona Wildcats defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen to replace Choate as the new co-DC/LB coach. And the early returns from that hire have been positive in the sense that Nansen has formed quick connections on the recruiting trail and made a couple of good additions to the defensive front with immediate impact veteran pieces via the transfer portal during the winter window.

Regarding the new DL coaching hire, the Longhorns hired former Miami Dolphins assistant defensive line coach Kenny Baker to bolster the defensive staff with a rising star in the college ranks. Baker has experience coaching in the NFL and collegiate levels.

He is considered one of the young rising stars in the college coaching ranks among DL coaches. The NFL background he brings along with his proven track record of coaching and developing talent in the FBS during his time at Western Kentucky in the early 2020s can help Texas continue to churn out defensive linemen at a fast rate entering the SEC this upcoming season.

The DL coach hire is such a pivotal move for the Longhorns this offseason. Texas's defensive line was a big reason for its success last season. All-American defensive tackles T'Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy II helped Texas win the Big 12 Championship in 2023 and make the College Football Playoff for the first time.

In a recent list published by 247Sports, Baker was listed among the SEC assistant coaching hires who will be the most impactful in the conference in 2024. After he coached up one of the better defensive lines in the AFC last season with the Dolphins, he will have many resources to help develop all the talent that Texas has in the trenches on defense.

Texas returns multiple experienced and proven defensive tackles in 2024

Baker and the Longhorns return key pieces along the defensive line who can be the next to develop into high-caliber NFL prospects in the SEC in 2024. Senior Alfred Collins and redshirt junior Vernon Broughton highlight the returning defensive tackles for Texas who give this interior defensive line rotation some proven depth and experience coming back.

Texas also has young and talented underclassmen who are coming into bigger roles in the defensive line rotation in 2024.

Redshirt sophomore Jaray Bledsoe, redshirt sophomore Aaron Bryant, and redshirt freshman Sydir Mitchell are all potential breakout candidates to watch among the underclassmen at defensive tackle for the Longhorns entering the spring.