Mora begins assembling UConn coaching staff

·4 min read

Nov. 29—EAST HARTFORD — UConn football coach Jim Mora officially took his post over the weekend, and he's quickly assembling a solid group of assistant coaches.

The Huskies announced Sunday that four members of the staff have officially signed on, including a former high school coach in the state.

John Marinelli, son of legendary New Canaan High School coach Lou Marinelli and himself a former head coach at Greenwich High, will be the Huskies' new tight ends coach. Marinelli comes to UConn after spending this season as a senior analyst at the University of Illinois.

"I'm excited to welcome John Marinelli to the UConn football family," Mora said in a statement released by the school. "John has deep ties to the state of Connecticut, and it is imperative that we keep the best talent in our backyard right here in the Nutmeg State. He's an excellent coach and I know the young men in our program will benefit from his presence."

In addition to Marinelli the Huskies have also hired John Allen as wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator, E.J. Barthel as running backs coach, and Siriki Diabate as linebackers coach.

Mora also confirmed Sunday that no members of the 2021 coaching staff will be retained. There had been some speculation that UConn interim coach Lou Spanos, who had worked with Mora previously at UCLA, might stay.

On top of the four hires made official Sunday, the staff will have another big addition soon.

University of Maine head coach Nick Charlton leaving to become the Huskies' offensive coordinator according to multiple sources.

Charlton, 32, was 14-13 in three seasons with the Black Bears He is a native of Salem, Massachusetts, and Boston College graduate who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Eagles.

Dalton Hilliard, a defensive backs coach at Arkansas State for the last two seasons, is leaving that post for a position on Mora's UConn staff as well, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported.

Another member of Mora's staff will reportedly be Ryan Osborn. Josh Henschke of the Maize and Blue Review reports that Osborn is leaving his job as defensive analyst at Michigan to take the defensive line coaching job at UConn.

Allen comes to UConn after spending the last two seasons working for a former UConn coach, Skip Holtz, at Louisiana Tech.

"To find a coach with more experience than John Allen would be a difficult task, and I'm thrilled that he will be joining the UConn football family," Mora said. "John is an excellent recruiter who knows the commitment it takes to be successful at this level. John's knowledge of the game and coaching acumen will make an immediate impact on the young men in our program and I know he is going to hit the ground running."

Prior to his time in Ruston, Allen spent two seasons as the wide receivers coach at Old Dominion.

Allen was a three-year starter at wide receiver and team captain at James Madison, where he played from 1991-94.

Barthel, who played at both Rutgers and UMass, spent the last two season as a coaching assistant with the Carolina Panthers.

"E.J. fought through a lot of injuries during his time as a student-athlete, and the success he has achieved over the last seven years in coaching is evidence of his high character," Mora said. "E.J. will be a great role model and teacher for our student-athletes and is an unrelenting recruiter."

Prior to his time with the Panthers, Barthel served as the recruiting coordinator/running backs coach for William & Mary during the 2019 season.

Diabate, a Syracuse alum, was the linebackers coach at Middle Tennessee for the last five seasons.

"Siriki is an outstanding coach who has a tremendous track record of developing student-athletes into excellent college players," Mora said. "He is a tireless recruiter who understands firsthand the challenges that student-athletes face, and I know our young men will benefit greatly from his mentorship."

Prior to his time with the Illini, Marinelli was an analyst at the University of Arizona for two seasons.

"I'm excited to join the UConn Football family under Coach Mora's leadership," Marinelli said. "Coach Mora is a proven head coach with great experience in both the NFL and college football, and I'm excited to be able to learn from him every day and help build this program back to where it belongs."

Marinelli was a two-time state champion player, then assistant coach, under his father at New Canaan before taking over as head coach at Greenwich. Marinelli's Greenwich teams went 36-10 in four seasons, including a 13-0 season in 2018 that ended in a 34-0 state title victory over New Canaan for the Class LL championship.

Neill covers UConn men's basketball and UConn football teams, and he keeps a finger on the pulse of Connecticut sports. For live game updates, and more insight into UConn athletics, player transfers, and team changes, follow Neill on Twitter: @NeillOstrout, Facebook: JINeillO, and Instagram: @NeillOstrout.

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