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Texans announce coaching staff


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HOUSTON – The Houston Texans have hired 16 assistant coaches and retained Bob Ligashesky as special teams coordinator, Head Coach Bill O'Brien announced today.

The following were added to O'Brien's staff: Romeo Crennel (defensive coordinator), Jim Bernhardt (Director of Football Research), John Butler (secondary), Doug Colman (assistant special teams), Paul Dunn (offensive line), Craig Fitzgerald (head strength and conditioning), George Godsey (quarterbacks), Sean Hayes (assistant strength and conditioning), Stan Hixon (wide receivers), Tim Kelly (offensive quality control), Will Lawing (defensive quality control), Charles London (running backs), Anthony Midget (assistant secondary), John Perry (tight ends), Anthony Pleasant (assistant strength and conditioning) and Mike Vrabel (linebackers).

"We've put together a great staff of enthusiastic and passionate coaches with good character who have successful backgrounds in coaching," O'Brien said. "It was important to put together a group who will be great teachers and I'm excited to begin our preparations for the 2014 season."

Crennel comes to Houston following a three-year stint with the Kanas City Chiefs (2010-12) where he served as defensive coordinator (2010-11), interim head coach (2011) and head coach (2012). Prior to Kansas City, Crennel spent four seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2005-08) following a highly successful stretch as defensive coordinator with the New England Patriots from 2001-04, where he helped the team win three Super Bowl titles. His first role as a defensive coordinator came in 2000 with Cleveland after stints with the New York Jets (1997-99), New England (1993-96) and New York Giants (1981-92).

Bernhardt spent the past two seasons as the special assistant to the head coach and director of player development at Penn State. He has an extensive background in college football, serving as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for two seasons at Hofstra University (1988-89), three seasons as defensive coordinator and linebackers and one season as  offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Brown University (1990-93) before heading to the high school ranks from 1994-2003. In 2004, Bernhardt joined the University of Central Florida program as director of football operations before transitioning to recruiting coordinator and running backs coach. Bernhardt left Central Florida in 2008 to return to Long Beach (N.Y.) High School, where he also coached from 1985-87.

Butler spent the last two seasons at Penn State, serving as defensive coordinator and secondary coach for O'Brien. In his first season working with the secondary, he helped Penn State rank second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in scoring defense. Prior to Penn State, Butler made stops at South Carolina (2011), Minnesota (2007-10), Harvard (2003-06), Texas State (2001-02), Midwestern State (1999-2000) and was a graduate assistant at Texas from 1997-98.

Colman played five seasons in the NFL as a linebacker with the New York Giants (1996-98), Tennessee Titans (1999) and Cleveland Browns (2000), including an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV with Tennessee. He joins the Texans from Coastal Carolina University where he served as linebackers coach for the 2012 season after spending two seasons in the same role at Tulane University. Colman played for Tom Osborne at the University of Nebraska, where he helped the Huskers win two national championships as a starting linebacker before returning to his alma mater as a defensive quality control coach in 2008-09.

Dunn spent the last six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons as the offensive line coach (2012-13) and assistant offensive line coach (2008-11). Prior to joining the Falcons, Dunn served as the offensive line coach (2005-2007) for the University of Pittsburgh, his alma mater. He also registered stints as the running game coordinator and offensive line coach at Kentucky (2003-04) and Kansas State University (1998-02). After getting his coaching start as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh (1983) and Penn State (1984-85), Dunn served as an offensive line coach at Edinboro (1986-88), Rutgers (1989), Maine (1990-93), University of Cincinnati (1994-95) and Vanderbilt (1996-97).

Fitzgerald comes to Houston after spending two years as the director of strength and conditioning for football at Penn State. Fitzgerald held the same position at South Carolina from 2009-11, where his efforts were instrumental in helping the Gamecocks post their first top 10 finish. He was director of strength and conditioning at Harvard (2005-09), assistant director of strength and conditioning at Maryland (2000-05), graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at Arizona State (1999) and director of strength and training at Catholic University (1997-98).

Godsey joins the Texans after three years with the New England Patriots, first as offensive assistant in 2011 and then as tight ends coach the past two seasons. Prior to joining the Patriots, Godsey spent the previous seven seasons (2004-10) at Central Florida under head coach George O'Leary, who O'Brien coached with at Georgia Tech from 1995-01. Godsey played quarterback at Georgia Tech from 1998-01, where he first crossed paths with O'Brien, the running backs coach from 1998-00 and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2001.

Hayes served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach under O'Brien and Fitzgerald at Penn State from 2012-13. Prior to Penn State, he was a graduate assistant football strength and conditioning coach at Jacksonville University from 2010-11. Hayes also played linebacker at Harvard from 2005-09.

Hixon has eight seasons of NFL experience coaching wide receivers. He spent six seasons with the Washington Redskins (2004-09) and two with the Buffalo Bills (2010-11) where he helped develop Stevie Johnson, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle-El. Hixon served as the associate head coach/wide receivers coach at LSU from 2000-03 and was a part of the Tigers' 2003 BCS National Championship. Hixon has also twice coached with O'Brien, the past two seasons at Penn State and from 1995-99 at Georgia Tech. Hixon was instrumental in the development of Penn State All-American and two-time Big Ten receiver of the year Allen Robinson, who set school records with 97 receptions and 1,432 yards during the 2013 season. Robinson finished his three-year career in Happy Valley ranked second in career receptions (177) and third in receiving yardage (2,474) despite only having three catches for 29 yards in the season prior to Hixson's arrival.

Kelly and Lawing both come to the Texans having served as graduate assistant coaches under O'Brien at Penn State. Kelly spent two seasons at Penn State after holding the same role for Ball State in 2011. He served the 2010 season as recruiting coordinator, defensive line coach and defensive coordinator at Minnesota State Moorhead. Kelly spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons as a defensive graduate assistant coach at Illinois Wesleyan where he assisted with coaching the defensive line. Lawing was at Penn State for one season after spending the previous four seasons with Juniata College. Lawing was the Eagles offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2011-12), passing game coordinator (2010) and tight ends coach (2009), while also serving as a recruiting coordinator.

London served as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Penn State in 2012-13 after four seasons in the NFL. He was an offensive assistant/quality control coach with the Tennessee Titans in 2011 after one season as pro scout for the Philadelphia Eagles (2010) and three seasons as an offensive assistant with the Chicago Bears (2007-09). London got his coaching start at Duke, his alma mater, serving as a graduate assistant (2004-05) and running backs coach (2006).

Midget spent last season as the coaching safeties at Penn State after spending five seasons at Georgia State from 2008-12, where he served as defensive coordinator. Midget joined the collegiate coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech in 2007 after spending four seasons coaching at Lake Worth (Fla.) High School.

Perry arrives in Houston following one season as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Delaware. Prior to joining the Blue Hens, Perry was the head coach for five seasons at Merrimack, where he led the team to a 29-21 record and helped produce five All-americans and two conference players of the year. He began his coaching career as running backs coach at Northeastern (1993) and later served as receivers coach at Brown (1994-96) with O'Brien, receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at New Hampshire (1997-98), offensive coordinator at Dartmouth (1999-2004), associate head coach and quarterbacks coach at Georgetown (2005), and associate head coach and quarterbacks coach at New Hampshire (2007).

Pleasant was the defensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2010-12 after working with the team as part of the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship in 2009. The former defensive lineman played 14 seasons in the NFL, including separate stints under Crennel's guidance with the New York Jets (1998-99) and New England Patriots (2001-03).

Vrabel served as defensive line coach at Ohio State for the 2012-13 seasons after starting his coaching career as the linebackers coach for the Buckeyes in 2011. A former NFL linebacker for the New England Patriots, Vrabel was a part of three Super Bowl victories (2001, 2003, 2004) in his 14-year NFL career.

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