/The future head coach on each Top 25 team

The future head coach on each Top 25 team

Which player on each Top 25 team might be coaching someday?

Here are the candidates from Clemson to Army, with LSU QB Joe Burrow joining a mix of starters, role players and coaches’ kids.


No. 1 Clemson: Wide receiver Will Swinney

A few of the top candidates from last year’s team have moved on (although we’re not entirely convinced Hunter Renfrow will ever really leave), so that leaves one obvious candidate as a future head coach. Swinney, the son of the current head coach and the team’s holder and part-time wideout, sure seems like the obvious choice to follow in Dad’s footsteps. He’s got the same jovial personality and walk-on work ethic, so it fits. Maybe he can even hire linebacker Jake Venables to be his defensive coordinator. — David M. Hale


No. 2 Alabama: Quarterback Mac Jones

If you can’t pluck an assistant coach from Nick Saban’s ranks, the next best thing is a quarterback. Enter Jones, who has had a front-row seat to one of the best programs and coaches in college football history. What’s more, he’s already a coach — in flag football, that is. As Al.com reported, Jones doubled as the offensive coordinator for a sorority intramural flag football team last year, and it sounds as if he took it pretty seriously. — Alex Scarborough


Schafer never lost a game as a starting quarterback in high school, going 31-0 with two state titles. He has studied in Lincoln Riley’s QB room for four years now, and he’s learned from a pair of Heisman winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. That would give Schafer major credibility if he ever pursued the coaching profession. — Jake Trotter


Hudson has the blend of intelligence, work ethic and toughness you look for in a football coach. The walk-on arrived at Georgia as a cum laude graduate, redshirted his first season and then quickly made a name for himself as a sophomore on special teams, where he was named one of the newcomers of the year on the unit. Following last season, he was one of three players named toughest on the team. — Scarborough


No. 5 Ohio State: Linebacker Tuf Borland

The even-keeled middle linebacker is used to directing traffic on the field. Borland comes from a football family — his father, Kyle, played at Wisconsin and briefly in the NFL. He’s an academic all-conference performer. And with a name like Tuf, he seems predestined to be around the sport for a long time to come. — Dan Murphy


No. 6 Notre Dame: Safety Alohi Gilman

The former transfer from Navy is Notre Dame’s undoubted leader on defense this season. Irish coaches rave about Gilman’s football IQ after two full seasons in South Bend. Back in Hawaii, his dad helps train defensive backs, giving Gilman an easy way to dip his toe in the coaching waters if he decides to pursue it in the future. — Murphy


No. 7 Texas: Defensive end Malcolm Roach

Roach played at Madison Prep, where his father, Mike, compiled a 40-12 record as the Louisiana school’s first coach. Before that, Mike Roach was a college assistant, including at Grambling. — Trotter


No. 8 Florida: Wide receiver Van Jefferson

It’s no surprise that Jefferson is the choice here. His dad, Shawn, played 13 seasons in the NFL and has served as receivers coach with three different NFL teams. So he has the coaching bloodline, to start. In addition, Jefferson is among the most knowledgeable players on the team and has set a standard to follow in the receivers room. Expectations are even higher after he led the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. — Andrea Adelson


No. 9 Michigan: Defensive lineman Carlo Kemp

New Wolverines defensive assistant Shaun Nua raved about Kemp’s leadership skills and intelligence a couple of months after meeting him. The heady senior also has a solid pedigree if he chooses the coaching route. His uncles, Chuck and John Pagano, both have had long careers as NFL coaches. — Murphy


After leading the Ducks with five interceptions in 2018, Holland is emerging more as a leader, but what also helps his head-coaching future is the fact that his father, Robert, played and coached in the Canadian Football League. — Edward Aschoff


No. 11 Texas A&M: Defensive back Keldrick Carper

The Aggies have several candidates here, but Carper is the one who sticks out. Jimbo Fisher has praised his consistency and leadership, even though he hasn’t been a regular starter (though he will be a major contributor this season). During a spring interview session with reporters last month, Carper deftly handled questions in the diplomatic manner that you’d expect from a coach, comparing a former coach of his to a current one and talking about a player in the transfer portal, while also mixing in some humor and personality. Carper appears to have the charisma often sought in a leader of men. — Sam Khan Jr.


No. 12 LSU: Quarterback Joe Burrow

It didn’t take long for Burrow to come in and have an impact both with his play and with his leadership, and perhaps it’s because there’s coaching in his blood. His father, Jimmy Burrow, was a longtime defensive coordinator at Ohio University before retiring in February. Joe Burrow impressed Ed Orgeron and the Tigers immediately upon his arrival last year, letting his work do the talking in offseason conditioning drills and the quarterback competition. Players noticed. LSU coaches have cited his maturity and film study habits, both key traits of good coaches. — Khan


No. 13 Washington State: Quarterback Cammon Cooper

If this offseason is any indication of future trends, then it’s stock up for every ex-Mike Leach quarterback in terms of coaching potential. And because a disproportionate amount of coaches come from football families, redshirt freshman Cammon Cooper should have a chance to be successful should he pursue coaching — his father also played quarterback in college. Cooper also played in an Air Raid system in high school. — Kyle Bonagura


Milton is working hard to return to the field following a devastating leg and knee injury suffered at the end of last season. But whether he does or not, there is little doubt where Milton will go when he hangs up his cleats — back to the football field as a coach. Milton has always prided himself on being a student of the game, and that was made even clearer in the days following his injury. Milton FaceTimed into quarterback meetings to help backup DJ Mack prepare. He’s still heavily involved with the team and is like another coach on the field. — Adelson


No. 15 Syracuse: Offensive lineman Sam Heckel

There’s no doubt Heckel has the smarts to be a coach. He’s a premed student at Syracuse, so that comes with the territory. He’s also an established leader, heading up Syracuse’s Uplifting Athletes chapter. And he knows the sport. He’s a versatile O-lineman, working at guard and center. Heckel figures to be a key contributor for this year’s Orange line, and if he wants to get into coaching down the road, he’d certainly be a good candidate. You know, if the whole doctor thing doesn’t work out. — Hale


No. 16 Penn State: Defensive back John Reid

Reid has been known to be a film junkie. He has studied film going all the way back to elementary school. He is constantly studying the game and trying to make himself better. His film study sessions, breaking down tape of himself and other teams, could help him transition to a coaching job if he wanted to pursue it. — Tom VanHaaren


No. 17 Washington: Center Nick Harris

Harris isn’t just one of the best centers in the Pac-12, he’s one of the Huskies’ best leaders. The first-team All-Pac-12 member started 12 of 13 games at center in 2018 and is one of the most valuable and reliable players — and people — on Washington’s football team. — Aschoff


Shelley has been around football his whole life. His father played in NFL Europe, the XFL and the Arena Football League. That’s a good place to begin for a future coach, and Shelley gets bonus points for leading his high school to the state championship game in Texas. For the Utes, Shelley showed he was a capable replacement for Tyler Huntley when he was forced into action late in the year and helped guide the team to its first-ever Pac-12 division title. — Bonagura


No. 19 Northwestern: Linebacker Blake Gallagher

Coach Pat Fitzgerald was a linebacker at Northwestern and wore No. 51. Gallagher is currently a linebacker at Northwestern and wears 51. So the odds are in Gallagher’s favor to be a head coach because of that alone, right? Those within the Northwestern program point out Gallagher’s high football IQ, leadership and ability to connect with every position group on the team as reasons he would make for a great future coach. — VanHaaren


No. 20 Stanford: Offensive lineman Drew Dalman

A first-team Pac-12 All-Academic selection, Dalman was destined to play football at Stanford. His father, Chris Dalman, played at Stanford before a career in the NFL, and he followed that with coaching stints at, again, Stanford and in the NFL. Already listed as a member of Stanford’s coaching staff: Kate Dalman, Drew’s older sister, who is an operations and recruiting assistant. — Bonagura


No. 21 Wisconsin: Offensive lineman Tyler Biadasz

The center needs to understand the duties of every offensive lineman and is often one of the more cerebral players on offense. So it’s not surprising that people at Wisconsin named Biadasz as a future head coach. He has stepped into a leadership role within one of the strengths of Wisconsin’s offense and returned this season to help the team after a disappointing season. He has a shot at a long NFL career, but when his playing days are over, he also has a good shot at being a successful coach. — VanHaaren


No. 22 Iowa: Quarterback Nate Stanley

Stanley was mentioned at Iowa as one of the top candidates to have a successful career as a coach, partially because of the position he plays, partially because of his football IQ and also because his father was a high school basketball and football coach. If Stanley has an itch to coach himself, he has a good enough grasp on the game and a blueprint for what is required. — VanHaaren


No. 23 Auburn: Defensive tackle Derrick Brown

Brown already has the football side of things down. Barring an unexpected development, he should be a first-round pick next year. But what you might not see from the defensive tackle is the leader he is. Nicknamed “Baby Barack,” he’s vice president of the student-athlete advisory committee and a member of the SEC’s football leadership council. He was a finalist for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award, which goes to the player who best demonstrates an outstanding record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship. — Scarborough


No. 24 Nebraska: Quarterback Andrew Bunch

Quarterbacks are most often the players who transition into coaching, and getting a couple of years of tutelage under Scott Frost is a good place to start. Bunch — an all-academic pick who spends a good deal of his time volunteering — might be destined for a backup role behind Adrian Martinez as a player, but his football career doesn’t have to end there. — Murphy


No. 25 Army: Defensive back Malik Hancock

The staff at Army believes Hancock has future head-coaching potential because of the sophomore’s personality, work ethic and intelligence on the field. — Trotter