When it comes to hiring assistant coaches, Les Miles follows two fairly standard profiles -- young up-and-comers like Frank Wilson, Brick Haley, Greg Studrawa (when he was hired), Thomas McGaughey or Billy Gonzales; or veterans with proven track records like John Chavis, Steve Kragthorpe, Ron Cooper or Larry Porter and Bo Pelini before them. Assuming the reports and rumors are true, Adam Henry falls into the first group.
He'll turn 40 in April, and as we all know by now he's just wrapping up his third year as the Oakland Raiders' tight ends coach, which was preceded by two seasons as an offensive quality control assistant (note: quality control coaches do the hardcore grunt work for NFL staffs -- breaking down practice film, managing and keeping practices on schedule -- it's a tough entry level gig). Quoting his Raiders.com biography:
Last year, Henry's unit once again featured the team's leading receiver, Pro Bowl TE Zach Miller. Miller caught 60 passes for 685 yards and 5 TDs and was selected to play in his first Pro Bowl. In 2009, Henry coached a tight ends unit that included the team's leading receiver, Zach Miller, who logged career highs in receptions (66) and receiving yards (805). In 2009, Miller became the first Raiders tight end since Todd Christensen (1982-86) to lead the Raiders in receiving in back-to-back seasons.
Before he donned the silver and black, Henry spent 10 years at McNeese State in Lake Charles, playing and coaching wide receivers and setting records in either role. The biggest name linked to him is B.J. Samms, whom some of y'all might remember had a good run as a kick returner with the Baltimore Ravens a few years ago.
On the plus side, Henry is a native of Beaumont, Texas, which gives LSU some more ties in that area (alongside McGaughey), and his resume and NFL stretch indicates he's got some good teaching chops when it comes to the technical side of the receiver position. Personally, I'm not a fan of the "pure recruiter" type of coach like an Earl Lane or a D.J. McCarthy. Sure, talent makes coaches, and you have to be able to both find and attract it, but coaches that fall too far on one end or the other of the teaching/recruiting spectrum tend to fade eventually. Henry seems to split that difference. On the minus side, Henry's been out of the recruiting game for five years, and the landscape can change a lot in that time. Whether he can hit the ground running quickly or not will depend on Henry himself, though this staff could certainly use some more juice in this area. McGaughey hasn't paid massive dividends early on, though he did help LSU pull in Danielle Hunter, whom I believe has major potential. Of course, it's obviously foolish to judge a coach based on one incomplete recruiting cycle. At first glance I doubt Henry plays a huge role in the 2013 cycle, but if early reports are true LSU won't have to lean on out-of-state too much, just for some critical needs (quarterback and defensive tackle primarily).
Still, I'd say that overall there's a lot more to like here than cause for concern.