By Jeff White
CHARLOTTESVILLE — A little less than two months after Mike London took over as UVa’s football coach, his staff is set.
London’s final hire is Scott Wachenheim, who’ll coach the Cavaliers’ tight ends. From 2006 to ’08, Wachenherim was offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Liberty University, where his boss was former UVa assistant Danny Rocco.
Wachenheim, 47, coached the Washington Redskins’ tight ends in 2009, but found himself looking for work when Jim Zorn was fired early last month.
“Obviously I wasn’t looking to leave the Washington Redskins, but I wasn’t looking to leave Liberty University either,” Wachenheim said Tuesday afternoon at the McCue Center. “This is to me an exciting new adventure.”
Also Tuesday, London announced his assistants’ assignments, some of which already were public knowledge.
UVa’s defensive staff comprises coordinator Jim Reid and Jeff Hanson (linemen), Vincent Brown (linebackers), Chip West (cornerbacks) and Anthony Poindexter (safeties).
Hanson also serves as recruiting coordinator, and Poindexter supervises special teams.
Leading the offensive staff is coordinator Bill Lazor, who’s also quarterbacks coach. The other assistants on that side of the ball are Wachenheim, Shawn Moore (wide receivers), Mike Faragalli (running backs) and Ron Mattes (linemen).
Mattes, who like Poindexter and Moore starred for George Welsh at UVa, technically is a graduate assistant. Helping Mattes will be another GA, former UVa offensive lineman Gordie Sammis, and Wachenheim has extensive coaching those positions.
Mattes and Sammis will be on the field during practices. London’s other graduate assistants, former UVa players Josh Zidenberg and Brennan Schmidt, primarily will work with video.
In D.C., Wachenheim was reunited with Zorn, with whom he’d worked at Utah State.
“My experience in the NFL was extremely positive,” Wachenheim said. “I learned a tremendous amount from the NFL.”
From Zorn, Wachenheim said, he learned about showing “poise under pressure.” From legendary offensive-line coach Joe Bugel, “how to come to work every day as a professional.”
Working with talented tight ends such as Chris Cooley and Fred Davis, Wachenheim said, provided immediate feedback on his coaching.
Wachenheim isn’t the only member of UVa’s staff with ties to the NFL. Mattes, Brown, Poindexter and Moore played in the league, and London, Lazor and Reid are former NFL assistants.
Wachenheim was not always sure he’d end up in Charlottesville. Shortly after the Redskins dismissed Zorn, Wachenheim spoke to London, who indicated his new staff appeared to be set.
Late last month, however, Wachenheim was in Mobile, Ala., site of the Senior Bowl, when London called to see if he wanted to talk about a position at UVa.
Wachenheim didn’t hesitate. Rocco raved about London, whom Wachenheim had watched running position drills at UVa and with the NFL’s Houston Texans.
“I was just impressed with his passion and enthusiasm and energy,” Wachenheim recalled.
His admiration grew when he saw how London carried himself after leading the University of Richmond to the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision title in 2008, and Wachenheim never forgot the advice he once received from Ken Hatfield, one of his mentors.
“He told me, ‘Scott, it’s not where you work, it’s who you work with.'”
Wachenheim, who has a bachelor’s in civil engineering, is a 1984 graduate of the Air Force Academy, where he was a four-year starter on the offensive line.
He and his wife, Karla, have two sons. Kyle, 19, is a sophomore at Liberty, from which he plans to graduate in three years. Tyson, 16, is a junior at Loudoun County High School. The family plans to move to the Charlottesville area as soon as possible.
Wachenheim has coached at six schools — Air Force, Arkansas, Colorado, Utah State, Rice and Liberty — and worked in a variety of offensive systems.
At Rice, where he spent 12 seasons with Hatfield, the last five as offensive coordinator, Wachenheim ran the triple-option.
“At Utah State, we ran the one-back or no-back and threw it 40 times a game. At Liberty, we ran a pro-style offense,” Wachenheim said.
“I’m comfortable with any system. I think coaching’s coaching and teaching’s teaching.”
UVa returns its top three tight ends from 2009: Joe Torchia, Colter Phillips and Paul Freedman. Among them, they caught 21 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.