The first question that usually follows the official naming of a head football coach is about that coach’s staff. Such was the case for Liberty’s new head coach Hugh Freeze as he was asked multiple questions about his staff in the media session Friday following his press conference.

With the new December signing period opening on the 19th, Coach Freeze will bring in 2 or 3 new assistants to his staff this week. He will then hit the road recruiting most of the week with his new assistants as well as some of the current staff to close out recruiting through the early signing period. His full and complete staff will likely not be finalized until after the December signing period.

“I know what my strengths are,” Freeze said. “I want to play to my strengths which are recruiting and capturing the hearts and minds of our players and offense. I’ve got to find a guy that I believe could be the head coach of the defense so I don’t have to spend a lot of time on that. I want to understand the 3rd down plan, and I want to understand the red zone plan. I can help there, but outside of that I’ve got to have some trust in that guy.”

There are several candidates he could look at to fill that defensive coordinator role, including current Liberty defensive coordinator Robert Wimberly or defensive line coach Vantz Singletary. If he elects to bring in fresh blood, a few names to keep an eye on are Corey Batoon, Jason Jones, Chris Kiffin, and Kane Wommack.

Batoon is currently the defensive coordinator for Hawaii, a position he has held for one season. It may be a hard sell to convince the native Hawaiian to return to the mainland, but he has a relationship with Freeze. Prior to his time at Hawaii, he was also the defensive and special teams coordinator at Florida Atlantic for Lane Kiffin in 2017, but prior to that Batoon was on staff at Ole Miss under Freeze for 4 seasons. He began his career at Ole Miss as an assistant AD for recruiting before being moved onto the coaching staff as an assistant coach of the safeties and special teams coordinator.

Jones is co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ole Miss, having been at the SEC school since 2013. He was hired to the Rebels by Freeze.

Kiffin, the son of Monte and brother of Lane, is currently a pass rush specialist for the San Fransisco 49ers. In 2017, he was defensive coordinator for his brother Lane at FAU for one season. Prior to that, he had served as Freeze’s defensive line coach dating back to 2011 at Arkansas State.

Wommack is currently in his first season as linebackers coach at Indiana. Prior to this season, he spent 2 years as defensive coordinator at South Alabama and another 2 as defensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois. He was also on Freeze’s staff at Ole Miss as a graduate assistant. His dad, Dave Wommack, was Freeze’s defensive coordinator at Arkansas State and Ole Miss.

A few offensive coaches’ names to look out for include Maurice Harris, Grant Heard, Derrick Nix, and Dan Werner. Harris is currently the recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at Ole Miss, where he’s been since December 2011. Heard is Indiana’s passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. He has an extensive history with Coach Freeze, having served on his offensive staff during his tenures at Lambuth, Arkansas State, and Ole Miss. Nix is the running backs coach at Ole Miss, a position he has held for 10 years. Werner is quarterbacks coach at South Carolina, joining the Gamecocks’ staff in 2018. Prior to that, he spent one season as an offensive analyst at Alabama under Nick Saban and the previous 5 years as the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ole Miss under Freeze.

“I’m going to meet with everyone (on the current staff),” Freeze said. “I’m not going to be in a hurry because I’ve been on that end of it and it’s not fun. I told my wife (Friday) morning as soon as I woke up, the only thing I’m dreading about today is the fact that there are families here – that at no fault of their own – are sitting here wondering what does my future hold in my profession? That’s tough for me. My compassion has grown for people after what I’ve gone through. I don’t wish ill or hurt on anyone, whether they like me or don’t like me. I really don’t wish that on anyone. So, it’s difficult to know that there’s some anxious families right now, and I just believe I need to get to know them, see what kind of job they’ve done, do my investigative work into their body of work, and then make decisions. But, obviously, being a coach for as long as I have, I have some guys that I really trust in that I know can help us win, and that’s the reality of this profession.”