Candidates to become ACU defensive coordinator

Photo courtesy SFA Athletics

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Abilene Christian head coach Keith Patterson will be heading into 2024 with two new coordinators following Skyler Cassity’s departure to Sam Houston on Saturday. Rick Bowie was recently hired as the third offensive coordinator at ACU in Patterson’s three years at the helm.

Cassity is one of the top young coaches in college football, and his promotion to become the defensive coordinator in the FBS was an eventuality. Patterson was likely aware that his young protege would soon depart for the FBS, considering his success leading the Wildcats defense.

The top candidate to lead ACU’s defense is likely already on staff. However, if he looks outside the program, Patterson is expected to receive plenty of interest in the position. Here’s a look at five potential candidates.

Nick Holt, Abilene Christian

Holt has spent the last two seasons as associate head coach and defensive line coach for Patterson at ACU and is a tremendous candidate if the Wildcats head coach seeks to promote within his staff. Holt has served as the defensive coordinator at Purdue, Western Kentucky, and Washington, with head coaching stints at WKU and Idaho.

Jonathan Petty, Houston Christian

Petty is another rising young star in the coaching ranks and spent last year coaching cornerbacks while serving as passing game coordinator and academic liaison for the Huskies. Before joining HCU, Petty spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M-Kingsville, with the Javelinas having one of the top defenses in the Lone Star Conference and the 36th-best defense in NCAA Division II in 2022.

Caid Faske, Colorado State-Pueblo

Another young coach quickly rising through the collegiate ranks, Faske served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach with the Thunderwolves last season. Faske comes from the Colby Carthel coaching tree and spent 12 seasons under Carthel’s tutelage at West Texas A&M, Texas A&M-Commerce, and Stephen F. Austin. Faske was selected as a member of the American Football Coaches Association’s 35-under-35 in 2019.

Lane Powell, Unemployed

Powell is a name to watch if Patterson is searching for a veteran football coach. Powell spent the past five seasons as special teams coordinator at Alcorn State and seeks to move closer to family in Texas. The Indiana native spent eight years as a regional scout in the Canadian Football League for Edmonton and was defensive coordinator at Edward Waters for two seasons. Powell has recruited throughout Texas as an assistant coach at Alcorn State and during his two years as a defensive line coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

Ronnie Wheat, Unemployed

A defensive-minded coach with 10 seasons of FBS experience, Wheat has an impressive resume despite never previously serving as a defensive coordinator. Wheat’s coaching career began at NCAA Division III Millsaps before being named the lead defensive analyst at LSU in 2013, where he served under defensive coordinators John Chavis, Kevin Steele, and Dave Aranda. The Mississippi native joined Aranda’s staff as safeties coach and special teams coordinator at Baylor in 2022 after two seasons at Nevada.

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