Last week, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick explained he would take some time to talk with Charlie Weis about the possibility of replacing quarterbacks coach John Hufnagel. Turns out he didn't need much time, nor was he forced to look very far.
Belichick tabbed young Josh McDaniels, who spent the last three years working on the lower levels of the Patriots coaching and personnel chains, for the position. Hufangel took his 30 years of professional football experience to the New York Giants, where he will rejoin Tom Coughlin's staff as offensive coordinator. Before Hufangel came to New England in 2003, he was Coughlin's quarterbacks coach in Jacksonville before the staff was let go after the 2002 season.
McDaniels cut his teeth as a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1999. It should come as no surprise to Patriots fans that current NCAA Coach of the Year and coach of the National Champion LSU Tigers, not to mention longtime Belichick confidant, Nick Saban was McDaniels' boss at the time. Wide receivers coach Brian Daboll made a similar rise through the Patriots lower coaching ranks after beginning his career with Saban.
McDaniels joined the Patriots as a personnel assistant in the scouting department in 2001. His responsibilities included film breakdown and scouting preparations for the defensive staff. He also helped Belichick and Weis with the quarterbacks after Dick Rehbein died during training camp that season. McDaniels then became a defensive assistant the following year and continued working in that capacity in 2003.
"Josh has been a valuable asset to our defensive coaching staff for much of the past three seasons," Belichick said through a team release. "Now we look forward to his contributions on offense."
McDaniels, a Canton, Ohio, native, was a standout wide receiver at John Carroll University, where he caught passes from recently promoted director of pro personnel Nick Caserio. Both grew up in Ohio with extensive football backgrounds that obviously contributed to their rapid ascents through the Patriots ranks.
McDaniels also played his high school ball for his father, Thom McDaniels, at McKinley High School. The elder McDaniels is considered one of Ohio's higher-profile high school coaches and he's since moved on to Warren Harding High School. One of his players was Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State standout who recently won a lawsuit that will allow him to be eligible for this year's draft.
The younger McDaniels not only will work with two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, but perhaps more importantly will be counted on to develop youngsters Rohan Davey, who will play in Europe this spring, and second-year man Kliff Kingsbury, who spent his rookie year on injured reserve. Those two will battle for Brady's backup job, and perhaps against a yet-to-be-determined free agent veteran to replace Damon Huard, who becomes a free agent on March 3.