The Reese's Senior Bowl today announced that Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh has tabbed tight ends coach Ron Middleton to lead the National team, while Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has selected assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley to serve as head coach for the American team in the 73rd annual Reese's Senior Bowl to be played on Saturday February 5, 2022, at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of the University of South Alabama.
This marks the first time in the game's rich history where head coaches will serve in more an advisory capacity while promoting assistants into expanded leadership roles on the staff.
"I want to start by thanking Jim Nagy and the Senior Bowl for the change this year allowing an assistant to work as the head coach down in Mobile," said Middleton, who served as interim head coach for the Jets in the Week 16 victory over the Jaguars in 2021. "I also can't say enough about Robert Saleh for the opportunity to serve as an acting head coach during the season and certainly for this chance now. Our staff is full of deserving candidates, and I am proud to experience this week alongside them. Working with this group of extremely talented young men as they begin their professional careers is something we are all grateful to be a part of and our staff is excited to work with them for the week."
The Jets have also elevated linebackers coach Mike Rutenberg to defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese to offensive coordinator. The Lions have appointed defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant to defensive coordinator and tight ends coach Ben Johnson to offensive coordinator.
In addition, Senior Bowl Minority Fellowship coaches Reggie Barlow (Virginia State head coach) and T.C. Taylor (Jackson State offensive coordinator) will be working with the Lions staff, while Tyrone Wheatley (Morgan State head coach) and Jonathan Saxon (South Carolina State linebackers coach/defensive coordinator) will be assisting the Jets during the week. Barlow, Taylor, Wheatley, and Saxon will take part in on-field coaching, position meetings, and nightly staff evaluations. The primary goal of this first of its kind initiative is to connect HBCU coaches with NFL decision-makers in hope that it leads to future career opportunities, while also giving the rest of the league's teams four individuals to contact for more information on Senior Bowl participants.
The Reese's Senior Bowl is coming off a record-breaking year in which 106 players were selected in the 2021 NFL draft, which represents 41 percent of the entire class. Over the past three drafts (2019-2021), 88.4% of the players wound up making an active 53-man NFL roster at some point during their rookie season. Those three rosters have included the following standouts: QB Justin Herbert (Chargers), QB Mac Jones (Patriots), DS Jeremy Chinn (Panthers), WR Chase Claypool (Steelers), WR Brandon Aiyuk (49ers), QB Jalen Hurts (Eagles), DB Kyle Dugger (Patriots), RB Elijah Mitchell (49ers), RB Antonio Gibson (WFT), WR Terry McLaurin (WFT), OL Chris Lindstrom (Falcons), WR Deebo Samuel (49ers), OL Elgton Jenkins (Packers), DL Montez Sweat (WFT), RB Najee Harris (Steelers), RB Rhamondre Stevenson (Patriots), RB Michael Carter (Jets), WR Kadarius Toney (Giants), WR Devonta Smith (Eagles), OL Quinn Meinerz (Broncos), and OL Creed Humphrey (Chiefs).