Greg Schiano brought back several former assistants with him to Rutgers. One was Jim Panagos, who coached the defensive line in New Brunswick from 2012-2015. After last year with Minnesota, Panagos returned to Rutgers in the same role. Unfortunately, Panagos’ return to the sideline will be postponed as he recovers from knee replacement surgery.
“Jim is allowed, by NCAA rules, to recruit,” Schiano said during a Thursday call with the media. “What we’re going to do is bifurcate his position. He’ll continue to recruit and mentor the kids but he is just not allowed to coach.”
Panagos began his career as a defensive line assistant for Maryland. He joined the Minnesota Vikings’ staff in 2002 and spent three years there before returning back to college as defensive line coach at UCF in 2007. Panagos also spent time with Temple and Pitt throughout his career. He is well respected as both a coach and a recruiter.
In the absence of Panagos, Charlie Noonan will act as the interim defensive line coach. Jamaal Westerman, who was already a graduate assistant with the defensive line, will also be involved along with Noonan.
“We have two guys that will be coaching the defensive line that have played in our system, that understand our culture, and both of them were trained by Jim,” Schiano said. “Certainly we lose something, but it’s as good of a situation as a replacement plan as you can have.”
Noonan played for Schiano at Rutgers from 2006-2010 and was a two-year starter, as well as a captain. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 as an undrafted free agent. He worked at Rutgers as a graduate assistant before spending time at Holy Cross and Lehigh. Noonan returned to Rutgers this season as a defensive assistant.
Westerman was a member of the Scarlet Knights from 2005-2008. In 50 games, he totaled 141 tackles, 44.5 tackles-for-loss, 26 sacks, and three forced fumbles. Westerman was signed by the New York Jets in 2009. He would also appear with the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers before playing in the CFL the past few seasons.
“I think they’re a great one-two punch,” Schiano said of Noonan and Westerman. “I think it’ll be a good thing. Charlie was serving as a quality control coach where he was more doing breakdown work and behind the scenes stuff. He has stepped into the primary role, and really they’re doing it together, but Charlie will be the interim defensive line coach.”