BOULDER New University of Colorado head coach Mel Tucker, who was hired on Dec. 5, has made his first hires for his initial coaching staff for the Buffaloes.
Tucker is bringing two of his colleagues from the University of Georgia in naming Jay Johnson offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and Tyson Summers as defensive coordinator and safeties coach. Johnson spent the last two seasons handling Georgia’s quality control for offense, while Summers did the same this past fall for the defense. But between the two, they have a combined 34 years of coaching experience (14 as coordinators).
Johnson, 49, is a veteran coach and administrator of 24 seasons, including nine as an offensive coordinator at three previous Football Bowl Subdivision institutions in addition to coaching quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends as a position coach.
At Georgia, Johnson assisted in all off-field phases of game planning and recruiting, helping the Bulldogs to an overall record of 24-4 in his two years on Kirby Smart’s staff. Summers then joined the UGA staff midway through the ’17 season and with Johnson, went on quite the ride with Georgia as it won the 2018 Rose Bowl/CFP semifinal over Oklahoma in a wild 54-48 double overtime thriller. UGA thus advanced to the College Football Playoff Championship game, where Alabama had to rally to defeat Georgia in overtime, 26-23.
“Jay brings a tremendous amount of experience and is very well respected in the coaching community for his ability to develop quarterbacks,” Tucker said. “He has a reputation for his offenses being both efficient and effective on a consistent basis. He shares my philosophy of playing complimentary football with offense and defense, the two working together. He’s had a strong history of producing balanced offenses that are able to finish drives. Our players will enjoy playing for Jay.”
Johnson, a graduate of Northern Iowa, has also coached at Missouri, Kansas, Southern Mississippi, Louisville, Central Michigan, Louisiana (Lafayette) and Minnesota among his time in the collegiate ranks.
Summers, 38, will be familiar to many in the area, as he was Colorado State’s defensive coordinator in 2015. He was the Rams’ defensive coordinator and safeties coach under its then-first year coach. The CSU defense made remarkable strides defensively that season under his tutelage, improving 30 spots or more in several categories from the previous year, including 85th to 55th in total defense, 32nd to ninth in passing defense and 114th to 21st in tackles for loss.
He left CSU after just that one season to become the head coach at Georgia Southern, a program entering its third year in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Sun Belt Conference. Summers would spend almost two years in the role. Prior to be hired at Colorado State, Summers spent three years on the Central Florida staff under coach legendary coach George O’Leary, with the Knights posting a 31-9 record during his time there. He coached the UCF linebackers his first two seasons (2012-13) before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2014. In his first year coordinating a defense, Summers saw his Knights emerge as the top defense in the American Athletic Conference and one that ranked in the top 10 among FBS schools in total defense, rushing defense, scoring defense and red zone defense.
“Tyson shares my defensive philosophy, is a great teacher of the game and an excellent motivator who knows how to develop players,” Tucker said. “He’s a great family man, and that carries over to how much he tremendously cares about the student-athletes as people first and about their overall well-being. There’s no one I’d rather have coordinating our defense and teaching these young men than Tyson.”
In addition to Georgia (twice), Georgia Southern (twice), CSU and UCF, Summers’ other major stops include Troy and Alabama-Birmingham. He is a graduate of Presbyterian.
Tucker also announced that three coaches off Mike MacIntyre’s previous staff will be retained, Darrin Chiaverini, Ross Els and Darian Hagan. All three will continue to coach the same positions they did under previous head coach Mike MacIntyre: Chiaverini the receivers, Els the inside linebackers and Hagan the running backs.
Tucker is still completing his staff – schools are allowed 10 assistant coaches – and expects to make additional hires next week.