By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
JaJuan Seider didn’t get a chance to make his mark in three years as a quarterback at West Virginia University, but he is returning to make his mark as a running back coach.
The news of the hiring to replace Robert Gillespie, who left last week for the same job at Tennessee, was made not through normal channels but by coach Dana Holgorsen on his Twitter account.
“It’s great to welcome JaJuan back to Mountaineer football,” Holgorsen said when the school put out an official release. “He is an energetic coach and recruiter, who knows our program and state very well. His coaching versatility and background will be an asset to our program, and I know he will bring a passion to succeed at his alma mater.”
The hire came one day after Holgorsen interviewed Seider and following an interview with one other candidate and it comes just in time to have Seider on hand for Sunday’s opening of spring football.
Seider was serving as running back coach and recruiting coordinator under former WVU assistant Doc Holliday at Marshall. He had coached at Marshall for three years and was one of three original members left on Holliday’s staff.
Seider played quarterback at WVU from 1996 to 1998 under Don Nehlen. He threw only one pass his first season as senior Chad Johnston quarterbacked WVU and was used very sparingly the next two years as he was beaten out for the starting job by Marc Bulger, who went on to play in the NFL for a dozen years and set almost every WVU passing record.
Bulger’s records stood until Geno Smith came along and playing in Holgorsen’s Air Raid system broke them.
For his career at WVU, Seider was 7-for-16 passing for 133 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and rushed 15 times for just 4 net yards.
However, he proved that he could have handled the job had not Bulger been in the house when he played one season at Florida A&M, where he won the Doug Williams Award as National Offensive Player of the Year at the Division I-AA level and the Jake Gaither Award, which is considered the Heisman Trophy for black colleges.
In that one season, Seider threw for 2,512 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Seider is the fifth new coach hired by Holgorsen this off-season. In addition to replacing Gillespie, Holgorsen had to replace offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh who took the same job at Oklahoma, and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital who took the same job at Texas A&M, where he will work with Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel.
Holgorsen also fired special teams coach Steve Dunlap, who is still working in the football department until his contract expires, when he is expected to get a full-time position overseeing high school relations, and cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts.
He hired Ron Crook, a Parkersburg native from Stanford, to replace Bedenbaugh, brought in former East Carolina defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell to work with the cornerbacks, then also brought back former WVU assistants Lonnie Galloway from Wake Forest to coach the receivers and Tony Gibson from Arizona to coach the safeties.
After playing at Florida A&M, Seider returned to WVU where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2000 and master’s degrees while working as a graduate assistant under Bill Stewart in 2010. In 2006, he served on the staffs at Lake Worth, Palm Beach Lakes and Glades Central, the high school where he was a star when recruited to WVU, in his native Florida.
Seider left WVU to become running back coach at Marshall three years ago. The running game made a huge jump forward, going from averaging 120.1 yards per game to 169.2 yards a game.
This was due to the presence of three freshman running backs who came out of his recruiting program – Kevin Grooms, Stewart Butler and Remi Watson. Grooms won Freshman of the Year honors in Conference USA after rushing for 737 yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged 6.1 yards a carry.
Seider’s recruiting class this year at Marshall was rated the best in C-USA and among non-BCS automatic qualifying conferences by 247Sports and was ranked No. 48 nationally.
He is expected to be a key player in WVU’s Florida recruiting.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.