Courtesy Angelo State Sports Information
SAN ANGELO – Angelo State head football coach Will Wagner has completed half of his full-time coaching staff with the addition of assistant coaches Russell Gaskamp and Michael Slater, as announced by the football office Friday afternoon.
Gaskamp, who was retained after previously serving as a coach with the Rams, will continue to serve as offensive line coach and will be ASU’s offensive coordinator. Slater, who has spent the past three seasons as an assistant with the defensive line at Rice University while earning his master’s degree, will coach the Rams’ defensive line and coordinate Angelo State’s recruiting efforts.
An offensive lineman and blocker for University of Texas Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, Russell Gaskamp joined the Angelo State staff as offensive line coach in 2009 and provided an immediate boost for the Rams on offense. Gaskamp’s offensive line helped pave the way for a 2009 team that produced nearly 400 yards of offense per game, the highest ASU output in more than three years and an increase of nearly 1,500 yards from the previous season.
The line continued to improve in 2010 and ranked third in the nation with just six sacks allowed in 10 games. Furthermore, ASU passed for a school record 3,086 yards and sophomore guard Austin Sumrall, a player Gaskamp recruited, was the first lineman to be selected to the Lone Star Conference First or Second Team since 2006. Gaskamp previously worked on the staffs at Lone Star Conference schools Southwestern Oklahoma State and Texas A&M-Commerce, after a coaching stint that saw three championship game appearances with the NAFL’s Austin Rattlers.
“Russell has been very instrumental in the transition, even before I decided to retain him,” Angelo State head coach Will Wagner said. “He did an unbelievable job of helping me out and getting things going. I had a great opportunity to sit and visit with him and was really impressed with his background and his ideas – what he wants to do with the offense. I think the kids really believe in him and are motivated by him. He does a great job with the offensive line, and I’m excited that he is going to be our offensive coordinator.”
Slater coached six Conference USA All-Conference players over the last three seasons assisting with the defensive line at Rice, including All-Conference USA First Team selection Cheta Ozougwu. Ozougwu also played for Slater at the high school level in Houston during part of Slaters 12 years coaching at the high school level at Alief Taylor and Alief Hastings high schools. Ozougwu will participate in this weekend’s East-West Shrine Game and has been invited to the NFL Combine.
As a high school coach, Slater was part of five different state playoff teams, including two state quarterfinalists in Class 5-A Division II. In 2003, Slater coached Michael Bennett, who later went on to star at Texas A&M before beginning an NFL career. Bennett played in 13 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.
Slater began his coaching career at Texas State University, where he served as a student assistant coach after an injury forced an end to his playing career. Slater played for Dennis Franchione and David Bailiff, whom he still considers a mentor.
“Michael was a grad assistant at Rice when my old college Craig Naivar was a defensive line coach at Rice (now defensive coordinator at Texas State),” Wagner said. “Craig had some unbelievable things to say about Michael, how great of a coach he is, what a great person, motivator, and technician he is – everything we are looking for here at Angelo State. We’re really excited to have him.
Wagner is expected to hire two more assistants in the coming weeks as Angelo State continues to build its recruiting class. The 2011 signing day for prospective football student-athletes is Feb. 2.
“Things are starting to calm down a little bit more,” Wagner said of the whirlwind weeks since taking the job in late December. “We’re just trying to catch up with recruiting because we’re behind with our late start on it. I’m really excited about the guys we’ve got coming in this weekend and next for visits. Coach Slater and Coach Gaskamp have been doing an great job since joining the staff and a our graduate assistant have done an unbelievable job of getting names of kids and film in front of us to watch and to evaluate. I’m really excited about recruiting and the potential athletes we can get into the program.”