John Dunn Named UConn Football Team's Offensive CoordinatorThe Hartford Courant — Mike Anthony The Hartford Courant
Jan. 12--UConn coach Randy Edsall keeps a list, sorted by position, of coaches he has crossed paths with or gotten to know over his long career, people he would consider making part of his staff should a vacancy create the need.
There are many reasons John Dunn, announced as UConn's new offensive coordinator Friday morning, was included on that list.
Dunn has coached at some of the top Division I programs. He has coached in the NFL. He even has experience working under Edsall (at Maryland) and, at 34, possesses the energetic voice Edsall was seeking for the sidelines and meeting rooms.
So Dunn is officially on board, a first-time full-time coordinator set to call plays for the Huskies in the 2018 season.
"He's very versed in offense," Edsall said of the 34-year-old first-time coordinator. "He's been in tempo offenses. We're going to be a multiple, no-huddle offense that is going to use tempo, formations and other things to create advantages. The good thing is, he'll take the system that we had and enhance it."
Dunn's contract is for two years and he will be paid $300,000 per year.
Dunn, who spent the past two seasons as an offensive assistant with the Chicago Bears, takes over for Rhett Lashlee, who was the UConn offensive coordinator for one season and left last week to take the same job at SMU.
"I'm so grateful to coach Edsall for the chance to join this team," Dunn said in a statement. "I'm thrilled for this opportunity and my family and I look forward to being a part of UConn football."
UConn also ran a no-huddle offense under Lashlee, who was the coordinator at Auburn prior to joining Edsall at UConn. Dunn's offense will be similar in some ways, but the Huskies will work toward developing a more functional drop-back passing game. Edsall believes Dunn's NFL experience will help the Huskies achieve that.
Dunn was a walk-on quarterback at North Carolina in 2001-03 and a student/graduate assistant there until 2007. He was then an assistant under Les Miles at LSU, and left to join Edsall's staff at Maryland in 2011, following Gary Crowton, the LSU offensive coordinator who left LSU to be Edsall's coordinator.
At Maryland, Dunn was Edsall's tight ends coach and eventually recruiting coordinator. He will also serve as UConn's quarterbacks coach, and Edsall expects to have Dunn's primary recruiting area be Georgia and the northern part of Florida (where Lashlee operated).
When Edsall was fired at Maryland during the 2015 season, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley (now co-offensive coordinator at Alabama) was promoted to interim coach, with Dunn as the offensive coordinator. Dunn and Edsall kept in touch in recent years, especially when Edsall was with the Detroit Lions as a special assistant for the 2016 season.
Of Dunn being a first-time coordinator, Edsall said, "I was never a coordinator either and then George O'Leary gave me the opportunity to be a coordinator and we tied for the ACC championship and we scored seven defensive touchdowns that first year. Some people think, 'I have to go hire a guy who has been a coordinator before,' but when you're around people and you see people and you talk to other people that guys have worked with, that's the whole thing. There are a lot of guys who could be good coordinators but just have never had the opportunity."
Dunn, married and a father of two, will work out of the office next week, begin reaching out to recruits already on board (including incoming quarterback Steven Krajewski of Moultrie, Ga.) and start getting to know returning players.
His primary role, of course, will be to get the UConn offense moving. The Huskies had nowhere to go but up after a disastrous 2016 season, during which they were the lowest scoring team in the nation (128th, 14.8 points a game), and they made strides under Lashlee (103rd, 23.6).
"For John, it's all about the fundamentals," Edsall said. "You don't win games with plays, you win with fundamentals. And if you can do the fundamentals, the plays can mean something. ... John is a good person and a good football coach. When you bring in somebody with that youthful energy, with that NFL experience, that helps. And he's sharp. He's a very smart football coach. He's a ball coach, but he's got a personality, and he's just a very good person."
Former Bears coach John Fox praised Dunn, as well.
"John is as good an offensive mind as I've been around," Fox said in a statement. "He has a great feel for the run game as well as pass game. He has the ability to relate to and motivate players and is an outstanding coach with a bright future."
The only other staff changes are expected to be the departure of Jonathan Brewer (offensive quality control), who is expected to join Lashlee at SMU, and graduate assistant Kyle Cooper, who will become tight ends coach at Robert Morris, his alma mater.
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