Josh Gattis hasn’t stayed in one place for long during his coaching career, first making a fast rise from a position coach to star offensive coordinator at big-name programs and working at Penn State, Alabama, Michigan, Miami and now Maryland during the past six years. And if CBSSports’ David Cobb is right, he won’t be at Maryland for long either, though that would probably mean it’s been a successful season for the Terps.
Gattis was one of six offensive and defensive coordinators Cobb highlighted as potential head coaches after next season, along with Clemson offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, Miami offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.
“Things went awry quickly at Miami for Gattis in his lone season as Hurricanes offensive coordinator. But how much of that was his fault, and how much of it was Cristobal seeking to put his own stamp on things? We’re still talking about a former Broyles Award winner with experience under James Franklin (Vanderbilt and Penn State), Nick Saban (Alabama), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Cristobal (Miami) and now Mike Locksley (Maryland),” he wrote. “There may be no coordinator in college football with a more impressive list of former bosses. His time with Maryland may qualify as an image rehabilitation stint, but the highlights of Gattis’ resume still suggest he could be a Power Five head coach.”
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Gattis has been viewed as a rising star in for a while, having gone from wide receivers coach at Penn State to co-offensive coordinator with Mike Locksley at Alabama, where their prolific offense helped carry the Crimson Tide to the national title game. The two later sparred publicly over who was responsible for the unit’s success, which made it surprising to some when Locksley hired Gattis this year to succeed Dan Enos after he left for Arkansas. But quietly, the two had squashed their beef a while earlier; a source told IMS Locksley’s view on holding grudges has changed after tragedy struck his life.
Maryland is loaded at the skill positions, so the hope is the Terps will get the version of Gattis that won the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach, in 2021 at Michigan. His offense struggled last year at Miami, where he was let go after one season, though the Hurricanes’ entire program was mired in a struggle.
Locksley is looking for Gattis to be an extension of him as a play-caller thanks to their time together in Tuscaloosa, dialing up the plays Locksley would call in the same situations.
“One of the great things is a guy like you Josh Gattis has been in this system before,” Locksley said during spring camp. “Bring in Josh Gattis and it’s not a new system. We’re running the Maryland offense and that will remain consistent throughout my tenure here. As I’ve said before, what we do on offense, defense and special teams won’t change based on the coordinator. Now what the coordinator is able to do is to put his personality on it, call it to his personality, which will allow Josh to do that. And then bring in whatever new things that add value to those systems.”
In April, Gattis was named by CBSSports as one of the top 15 coaches under the age of 40. Dean Straka of 247Sports wrote:
“Gattis has moved around plenty in recent years. He was the offensive coordinator for Michigan during the team’s run to the Big Ten title and College Football Playoff in 2021, making him an attractive candidate for other openings that winter. Sure enough, Mario Cristobal tabbed him for the same role for his inaugural Miami Hurricanes staff last season, but a 5-7 finish ultimately led to Gattis exiting Miami after just one season. Now it’s on to Maryland where Gattis looks to get the most of out of an offense that sees quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa return. He’ll share those duties with a former Power Five head coach in Kevin Sumlin, who also enters his first year on Mike Locklsey’s staff.”
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The word from inside the program at Maryalnd so far: Gattis has been energetic and motivated to prove last year was an aberration. With Tagovailoa at quarterback, a strong stable of running backs headed by breakout rising sophomore Roman Hember and a talent-laden receiver room, he’ll have an opportunity to do that.
He’s not the only big-name hire Locksley made on offense during the offseason. Former Texas A&M, Houston and Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin is Maryland’s new tight ends coach and co-offensive coordinator.
“Our whole offensive staff’s gonna have input in what we do. I like to say, you know, we’ve all been around success before, when you look at some of the success [these] guys have been around. It’s rare to be in those shoe,” Gattis said during spring ball. “Coach [Kevin] Sumlin is a guy that, you know, he’s coached Heisman winners, he’s put together some elite offenses. For me, specifically, I’m excited about having coach [Gunter] Brewer. Just not having to be with wide receivers, the guy who’s developed wide receivers at an elite level. And so that allows us to be very creative and in how we plan out the roles as the offensive staff.”