Rutgers football is now searching for a new defensive assistant coach, in addition to the ongoing quest to find the program’s ninth offensive coordinator in as many seasons. On Saturday afternoon, it was first reported by Bobby Deren of Rivals and soon after by Ryan Dunleavy of New Jersey Advance Media that Rutgers defensive line coach Shane Burnham is leaving the program.
According to the report, Burnham is set to take the same position at Central Florida under newly hired head coach Josh Heupel. Burnham has strong roots in Florida, as he grew up in Tallahassee due to his father, Wally, working at Florida State under Bobby Bowden for 9 seasons as linebackers coach. Shane eventually worked with his father at Iowa State from 2009-2015, when Wally was the defensive coordinator and he coached the defensive tackles and special teams. The younger Burnham recruited the state of Florida while at Iowa State, but he focused less on that area at Rutgers under head coach Chris Ash, who was on the same Cyclones staff with him in 2009.
As for Ash, he’ll need to find a new defensive line coach that can both coach up and recruit the position group well. With a second consecutive offseason of seeing veteran players graduate from the defensive line, this position group is now very inexperienced and depth is even more of an issue. Recruiting efforts in regard to the defensive line hasn’t been at the level this program needs it to be, in order to have the talent and depth necessary to truly move up the ladder in the Big Ten East.
In the past two recruiting cycles, Burnham helped to add 3-star defensive ends Mike Tverdov, Tijuan Mason, Brendan Bordner, and Jaohne Duggan in the 2017 class, as well as 3-star Matthew Thomas and 2-star Kamree Kromah, who signed with the 2018 class this week. While there is talent in this group, Rutgers needs more of it in order to be able to rotate 8-10 players throughout the game in future seasons. The defense was improved this past season, but wore down in the second halves of many games. A big reason for that was a lack of depth on the defensive line.
It will be another important offseason for head coach Chris Ash, who now needs to fill three assistant positions. In addition to finding an offensive coordinator and replacing Burnham with the defensive line position, college football teams are able to add a tenth assistant coach on January 9th per a new NCAA ruling. Stay tuned for additional coverage on all three assistant searches for Rutgers football this winter.