On Thursday morning, Rutgers announced the hiring of Corey Hetherman as the new linebackers coach. There was one additional coaching spot open following the departures of four assistant coaches since the 2021 season ended. Bob Fraser served as linebackers coach the past two seasons and has long worked under head coach Greg Schiano throughout his career. It’s expected he remain at Rutgers in a different capacity yet to be announced.
“Corey has had success at every level,” Schiano said. “He is a passionate teacher and coach who has a history working with our new defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak. We are thrilled to have him and his fiancée Julie join the Rutgers Football Family.”
Hetherman has been the defensive coordinator at James Madison the past three seasons and was named named the 2021 AFCA FCS Assistant Coach of the Year this past season. JMU led the FCS level this past season in turnover margin (+17), while ranking second in total defense (252.6), third-down defense (24.5%) and tackles for loss (8.7). They were also top ten in with 79.7 rushing yards allowed (5th), scoring defense at 15.5 points per game (9th), 24 takeaways (9th) and 172.9 passing yards allowed (10th). The Dukes’ also finished no. 1 in total defense in 2019 and 5th in his second season.
“We really appreciate Corey’s contributions to the JMU football program,” head coach Curt Cignetti said in a statement on Wednesday. “We wish him and Julie the best of luck in their next and future endeavors.”
His connection with current defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak should help both coaches in their transition within the program. Hetherman was at Maine previously from 2015-2018. He first served as defensive line coach in 2015 when Harasymiak was DC. Hetherman then replaced Harasymiak in that role when he became the head coach. They worked together in those roles for another three seasons. Their relationship began at Springfield College where they both served as grad assistants a decade prior.
Before working at Maine, Hetherman was DC at Pace University, as well as four seasons at Old Dominion as run game coordinator and outside linebackers coach. Stops at Northeastern, Springfield College and overseas for the Wuerzburg Panthers were early in his career. He was a three year starter at Quarterback for Fitchburg State in the mid-2000’s before his coaching career began.
He has experience recruiting New Jersey from his previous stops but this is his first FBS coaching position.
The linebacker room is a unit in transition with the departures of Olakunle Fatukasi, Tyshon Fogg and Tyreek Maddox-Williams. However, the position group is loaded with young talent that includes former 4-star recruits Khayri Banton, Moses Walker and Anthony Johnson, as well as Tyreem Powell who played a lot this past season as a true freshman. It’s a good situation for Hetherman to take over and make an impact with a group that has a lot of potential.
On Wednesday, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano was asked about the remaining coaching position open and said “We do have an open slot, and I am moving pretty rapidly to a position where it won’t — I’m going to announce that soon as well as some other things at every level. I think when you get two years into it, you kind of take a look at the whole operation and you say, okay, how do we make moves to get better. In this day and age of college football, you have to be ready to pivot all the time, whether it’s players, whether it’s staff, and the staffs are large.
Schiano continued, “You have recruiting staffs, personnel staffs that are working behind the scenes. You have quality control coaches that are working behind the scenes. I think matching them with the right position coach and matching them with recruiting staff, all of that’s critical. I’ve been working really, really hard on that since the bowl game really. Really before the bowl game, to get the right people in the right seats. You know the old saying you’ve got to get them on the bus, but you’ve got to get them on the right seats on the bus, as well. That’s really been my challenge. I think within not too long, I’ll be able to make some announcements on that, but just not ready quite today.”
The defensive staff as of now under coordinator Joe Harasymiak includes Fran Brown as secondary coach, Marquise Watson as defensive line coach and now Hetherman with the linebackers. Fraser’s new role should be announced soon and that will determine if another on-field assistant coaching spot is still needed or not. Stay tuned for updates.