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For two offensive coaches new to the University of Toledo football coaching staff, the move to northwest Ohio was riddled with challenges.
Running backs coach Anthony Johnson, decamping from sunny Texas, white-knuckled his way through a Level 3 snow emergency.
Receivers coach Derek Sage is living in a hotel until he and his wife find time to house hunt.
The transition couldn’t have been more seamless for a third assistant. Northwood native Bryan Gasser, who worked the past two seasons at Toledo with on-campus recruiting, got a promotion to Matt Campbell’s coaching staff.
Gasser will coach tight ends and be afforded a traditional recruiting role in which he’s free to travel. In his previous job as director of high school relations, Gasser worked from his office and was forbidden to coach or to hit the road to recruit.
The move gives the Cardinal Stritch graduate his first Division I coaching job, a crowning achievement in a career that includes a graduate assistant position at Toledo from 2010-12, as well as stops at his alma mater Ohio Northern, Notre Dame College, and Otsego High School.
The promotion likely would have come last year had Campbell had an opening.
“He’s a guy that 10 to 15 years down the road has a chance to be a head coach if he wants to be,” Campbell said. “He’s a really bright young man, and it was only a matter of time before we had an opportunity to put him on the field.”
Gasser is tasked with recruiting Dayton and Cincinnati, two areas he targeted in the past.
“I’ll be more involved in the actual recruitment and prospecting phase,” he said.
Sage arrives from Wyoming where he worked alongside two coaches with ties to Campbell — former Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon, and Campbell’s Mount Union teammate, Alex Grinch. Another voice bringing Sage and Campbell together was Chip Kelly. The Philadelphia Eagles coach, long an admirer of Mount Union’s program, was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire at the time Sage was receivers coach.
To make room for Sage, offensive coordinator Jason Candle is transitioning to quarterbacks coach from receivers coach.
Sage calls Kelly the most cerebral person with whom he’s coached and credits Kelly’s renowned breakneck system with advancing his knowledge of coaching on the fly. Kelly’s offenses do not huddle and try to line up fast so to not let the defense rest.
“Hair on fire, coaching your tail off,” Sage said. “You have to have eyes in five different spots and you have to be in five different spots. This is all I know. Kids get lined up and we bark one-word commands.”
Johnson comes from Sam Houston State where he mentored stalwart running back Tim Flanders, who ran for 3000-plus yards the past two seasons.
Johnson played collegiately at Texas and should increase Toledo’s chances of making inroads in a state the Rockets are wishing to tap into.
“I learned at Sam Houston State that there are so many talented athletes in Texas you don’t even fight over them,” he said.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.