MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia began its search to fill the vacant spot on its coaching staff Friday, and industry sources told the Charleston Daily Mail the Mountaineers are focused on perhaps bringing another former assistant coach back to campus.
Sources said Bruce Tall, now the defensive coordinator at Charlotte, is a favorite among the options, but that the Mountaineers will look into a few other possibilities. Tall spent five seasons coaching safeties for WVU before following former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez to Michigan.
The sources said WVU's preference is that any addition to the staff would not replace departed Keith Patterson as the defensive coordinator. Safeties coach Tony Gibson remains the favorite to be promoted because of his familiarity with the defense and the terminology Patterson used.
Gibson and Patterson worked together at Pitt in 2011 when Patterson was the defensive coordinator. Patterson encouraged WVU coach Dana Holgorsen to hire Gibson last season in part because of their experience together with the Panthers.
If hired, Tall, 53, would fit neatly into both what the Mountaineers need and have in mind. Though he coached the safeties at WVU, he's spent more time coaching the linebackers and defensive line in his career. He was Rodriguez's defensive line coach from 2008-10 and has done the same with the 49ers. Tall was hired as Charlotte started its program in 2011. The team signed players in the 2012 recruiting class and they all redshirted before the inaugural 2013 season.
WVU doesn't have a linebackers or defensive line coach. Patterson, who was introduced as Arizona State's defensive coordinator, defensive special teams coordinator and linebackers coach Friday, was WVU's linebackers coach. WVU chose not to renew defensive line coach Erik Slaughter's contract last month.
To fill Slaughter's spot on the staff, WVU hired former linebacker and Miramar (Fla.) High School coach Damon Cogdell last month. He's never coached in college and has only been referred to as a defensive assistant, though Miramar defensive end Yodny Cajuste, who signed with the Mountaineers on Wednesday, told the Daily Mail that Cogdell said he would coach WVU's defensive line.
If so, that would leave the linebackers to the new hire. Tall's first job as an assistant was coaching linebackers and he had the same title most recently at Harvard from 1998-2001 before joining WVU.
Tall would also be the sixth person hired by Holgorsen who is either from West Virginia or previously played or coached for the Mountaineers. In addition to Cogdell, Gibson is from Van and was the safeties coach before following Rodriguez to Michigan. Offensive line coach Ron Crook is from Parkersburg. Running backs coach JaJuan Seider was a WVU quarterback and graduate assistant before joining the Marshall staff. Receivers coach Lonnie Galloway had the same job at WVU before leaving for Wake Forest for two seasons.Additionally, Hall, from Shaker Heights, Ohio, has recruited southern Ohio throughout his career, a recruiting responsibility most recently held by Slaughter. Ohio is one of nine states WVU recruits regularly and one of three (Florida and Pennsylvania) that gave the program multiple signees in the 2014 recruiting class.