CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — New Miami football coordinators Josh Gattis and Kevin Steele say they are excited about the direction the program is headed under coach Mario Cristobal.
“You know what this program can be and then you put Mario in charge of it, it really tells you you’re getting in a vehicle and you know where it’s going,” Steele said as he as formally introduced Thursday as the Hurricanes new defensive coordinator.
Gattis, 38, said he is excited about taking over Miami's offense after being named the 2021 Broyles Award winner given to the nation’s top assistant coach while at Michigan.
“Obviously, it was a very emotional week as far as leaving," Gattis said. “Any time you go through changes, it’s always hard because I felt like I didn’t leave players behind, I felt like I left friends behind.”
Gattis will be looking to help the Hurricanes have similar success as the Wolverines who went 12-2 with a playoff appearance last year after going 11-8 in his first two years in Ann Arbor.
“The energy and excitement surrounding our program and our players are all in a buy-in approach" Gattis said. “Coach Cristobal is steadily creating the energy and setting the tone.”
Steele, 63, was briefly Tennessee’s interim head coach last year, but primarily was away from coaching after spending the previous five years as Auburn’s defensive coordinator.
“I did some consulting work for three power five schools, not in the same conference, for head coaches I am friends with and I actually bit off more than I could chew,” Steele said.
Steele steps back onto the field where he is most comfortable with more than 10 years of experience as a defensive coordinator previously at Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Auburn.
Cristobal and Steele were on the staff together at Alabama for two years in 2013-14, becoming close friends, after initially forming a relationship as both recruited South Florida years prior.
“It was very easy because I know who he is at the core,” Steele said on joining Cristobal’s staff. “He’s a winner and he does it with hard work. Mario Cristobal, if you know anything about him, he is relentless. He is a hard, smart worker and a phenomenal recruiter.”
Gattis has taken an unusual journey as a coach on the offensive side of the bal.. He was an All-ACC safety at Wake Forest and spent two years in the NFL. Former coach John Shoop helped persuade Gattis to coach the offense as a graduate assistant at North Carolina in 2010.
Shoop’s message: “Come over to offense and just learn it. It will be great for your defensive career.”
Gattis has been on the offensive side of the ball ever since with stops at Western Michigan, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Alabama and Michigan.
“Little did I know I was going to dive all in and fall in love with offensive football,” Gattis said. “Early on in my career it allowed me to have an appreciation just to learn. I had to learn each step of the way because I did not have that previous experience. I haven’t look back since. I’m fully converted. I’m an offensive guy with a deep background on the defensive side.”
Gattis and Steele began working with the team this week during offseason workouts ahead of spring practices, which began next month and looking to improve on last year’s 7-5 season.
“Before I accepted this position, I did a ton of research just looking at the roster and watching film, really diving into the talent we have here and I have been so impressed by our players,” Gattis said.
Miami also has announced hiring of Jahmile Addae, Alex Mirabal, Joe Salave’a and Kevin Smith to Cristobal’s staff. He has four more openings to fill.
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