Earlier today, Sporting News’ Alex Marvez tweeted that the Jacksonville Jaguars will be hiring Clemson defensive ends coach and co-defensive coordinator Marion Hobby as part of their defensive staff. Joining the retiring defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks, the championship season has already produced an inevitable problem for Clemson: losing some of its masterful coaching staff.
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 17, 2017
Nearly every championship-winning program in college football faces attrition to its coaching staff. As these coaches reach success at lower-level jobs such as positional coaches, they face tempting offers to move up the chain either to a head coaching position like former Clemson OC Chad Morris did in 2014 when he took the SMU Head Coach position, or making the bump up to a full coordinator position. Some coaches even make the leap to the NFL as Hobby is reportedly doing, the likes of which are inevitable after such a prolonged string of success.
While Brooks’ retirement is tough to swallow, Hobby’s is going to hurt much more in the long run. Since taking the DE Coach position in 2011, he has produced and developed multitudes of excellent players at the defensive end position from Clemson. Rivaling other schools such as Missouri or Alabama for their constant production of NFL talent at this position, Hobby has developed players such as Andre Branch (Miami Dolphins), Vic Beasley (Atlanta Falcons, this year’s NFL Sacks leader), Shaq Lawson (Buffalo Bills), Kevin Dodd (Tennessee Titans) as well as current Clemson players Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins (whom Hobby was able to use as an end instead of his natural defensive tackle position), and Austin Bryant. Clemson’s defensive line talent has been astounding as of late, and losing both coaches after this season is bound to hurt.
Brooks and Hobby were also known as solid recruiters. While losing out on some big name defensive end players such as Robert Nkemdiche, the two have been known for their ability to develop less touted players into NFL talent. Vic Beasley originally came onto Clemson’s campus as a running back, and ended up as a two-year All-American at Clemson, a first round draft pick, and now the NFL’s sack’s leader for this season. He heads into the NFC Championship this weekend going against the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers on his biggest stage yet.
Given the complete reloading the defense has done under Brooks, Hobby, and Defensive Coordinator Venables, losing Hobby to the NFL will no doubt do some harm to this process. Hobby’s recruiting prowess and eye for diamonds in the rough will be sorely missed. It will no doubt impact the recruitment of 5* Florence, SC DE Xavier Thomas, whom is still on the fence about committing either to Clemson or South Carolina. Clemson’s staff will kick themselves for a long time if this ends up pushing Thomas to Columbia, the same way they did when Jadeveon Clowney ended up choosing the Gamecocks in 2011. Thomas is the best recruit out of the Palmetto State since Clowney, and Hobby’s departure definitely puts a twist on this already dramatic saga between the two rival programs.
If Marvez’ tweet and source prove correct, then Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables both have some homework to do for potential replacements. As of late, Clemson’s hires both external and internal have been home run balls. Swinney has an ability to evaluate coaching ability since 2011- starting with the risky hiring of Chad Morris. Morris’ hire has paid dividends to the program, kick-starting the current run of success the program now enjoys. Add in bringing Venables in from Oklahoma, as well as Morris’ eventual replacements in Jeff Scott, Tony Elliott, and Brandon Streeter (as Co-OC’s in Scott and Elliott and QB Coach in Streeter), Clemson fans should remain confident in Swinney’s ability to make a solid replacement. However, Hobby has been instrumental in Clemson’s success and his replacement no doubt will have huge shoes to fill.