Previously: Pep Hamilton
The Charlotte 49ers are searching for the second head coach in program history. Josh Gattis is a North Carolina native and an up-and-coming coach to keep your eye on.
Career Path: Gattis began his coaching career in 2010 as an offensive graduate assistant with North Carolina. After taking over the wide receiver coach position for Western Michigan, Gattis built a relationship with current Penn State head coach James Franklin. This led to a 6-year tenure under Franklin - two with Vanderbilt as the wide receivers coach and four with Penn State as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Following a move to the SEC, Gattis landed his current gig as wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator under Nick Saban with powerhouse Alabama.
Buzz Surrounding the Hire: Immediately following the news of a coaching change in Charlotte, Gattis’ name was mentioned by national media members Barton Simmons and Bruce Feldman.
I think #Charlotte would be crazy NOT to look hard at #Bama co-OC/WR coach Josh Gattis. He's been a fantastic addition to the Tide staff this year, and he was also excellent every other place he's been. Really impressive guy with great attention to detail. https://t.co/z0B2ehaqnR— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 18, 2018
With a stout defense returning for the 49ers, the addition of an offensive-minded coach could be the winning keys to the ignition. Gattis has built a reputation of getting the most from his players, and with plenty of young talent returning next season, Charlotte could be poised for success in C-USA.
What’s There to Like: Gattis’ played Safety at Wake Forrest in college and spent two years in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. Being a Durham, North Carolina, native combined with his excellent recruiting tactics, Gattis could bring some major talent to the Queen City. During his four-year stint in Happy Valley, he played a role in securing four top-25 recruiting classes, two of those being top-15 classes in the past three years.
The Gattis-led receiving core in Tuscaloosa has done incredibly well replacing Calvin Ridley, with a trio of wide receivers who are leading the country in highest passer ratings when targeted, according to PFF. Devonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, and Jaylen Waddle lead the way for the Tide with ratings when targeted all over 149. Gattis’ reputation for being a great communicator with impressive attention to detail has led to his success at every position he’s held.
Why They Should Proceed with Caution: The most outstanding liability in his resume is no head coaching experience. With offensive success across all positions he’s obtained, Gattis only lacks the head coach title. With the vast majority of his coaching career being on the staff of powerhouse programs, we have yet to see his production in a program that is on the rise.
Why He Would Take the Job: An opportunity to gain head coaching experience in a relatively new program that can go nowhere but up, the Charlotte job is perfect for a young coach. At only 34 years of age, Gattis has a long career ahead of him. Why not take a chance on a program that’s trending upwards? Being from the area, it would be a homecoming for his family. Returning to his home state with a ton of high school talent at his fingertips could elevate his already-polished recruitment abilities.
Victor Tucker and Cameron Dollar headline Charlotte’s returning receivers, and after leading the 49ers’ receiving core with 712 yards and two touchdowns, Tucker is poised for a breakout sophomore season. With a young quarterback in Chris Reynolds along with stud running back Benny LeMay returning, the offensive production could strike new heights.
Analysis: Gattis’ energizing coaching scheme has influenced his young receivers over the years, and his passion and leadership have assisted in building great relationships with his players. His recruiting skills are highly touted, and his ability to work with both quarterbacks and receivers will lead to his eventual head coaching gig, potentially taking over a young program in an established city.
In the past seven seasons, Gattis has produced seven all-conference receivers, and three All-Americans at their respective schools. He was named Big Ten recruiter of the year in 2015 following a top-15 class in the country. With a fertile recruiting area to work with, Gattis could rewrite the narrative that Charlotte’s program has developed.
Even with the lack of head coaching experience, I believe this is the best option for Charlotte’s future. With a solid foundation laid by Brad Lambert, Josh Gattis could build this program into a serious contender in G5 football. On a scale of 1-10, I believe this hire is a perfect 10.