|Duane Vaughn is Furman's new defensive coordinator.
Photo courtesy of Furman
Vaughn came to Furman in 2011 as part of the new staff for Bruce Fowler, who Vaughn played for at Vanderbilt. Over the last eight seasons, Vaughn has coached the Paladins' tight ends, safeties and - for the past two seasons - outside linebackers. He's also served as Furman's recruiting coordinator the last two years. In a corresponding move to Vaughn's promotion, Hendrix announced that inside linebackers coach Ken Lamendola is taking over that position.
"It's just a natural progression for Duane (to be the defensive coordinator). He's been here eight years now and everything I've ever given him to do, he's just been exceptional at," Hendrix said. "He's smart, a Vandy grad. He has a good rapport with the kids and has a good grasp on what we're doing defensively.
"I've been pretty pleased with the progression we're making (defensively) and I think this gives us the best chance to continue that."
When word started to get out about Staggs leaving, Hendrix said he heard from plenty of coaches in replacing him. For Hendrix, Vaughn "checked all the boxes," just as he did two years ago when he and Brian Bratton were retained from Fowler's staff.
"He's a guy that could've left since I've been here," Hendrix said. "I think he wanted to move up the chain here. It's funny how that works sometimes. Guys will pass up opportunities, keep working, and get a chance."
Staggs departure for Coastal Carolina following Chadwell being named head coach there should not come as a shock. He worked as Chadwell's defensive coordinator at both North Greenville and Charleston Southern previously.
A few days after Staggs left, Furman also lost cornerbacks coach Addison Williams, who departed for a position at Auburn. Hendrix said while the Paladins may do some different things on defense, there wouldn't be any dramatic shifts from what Furman has been doing defensively.
"If you have good coaches and you do well, you're probably going to lose some of them. That's the nature of the business," Hendrix said. "I've learned in this job, you better be looking ahead and always planning."
Staggs' two seasons as defensive coordinator was highlighted by an aggressive style of defense. After Furman totaled 20 sacks over 22 games in 2015 and 2016, the Paladins piled up 61 sacks in 23 games over the last two years. One of the big contributors to that sack total was one of Vaughn's players, Adrian Hope. Hope led the country with 15.5 sacks as a freshman last season.
"Chad did a great job here. I appreciate his hard work. He had a huge hand in changing the culture of our defense from the time he got here," Hendrix said. "At the end of the day, he left it much better than he found it."
"Addison's a young guy who had a chance to go work at an SEC school. He did a really good job here as well. I think he struggled with the decision a little bit, but I'm happy for him. ... I wish both of them nothing nothing but the best."
Ojong joins staff
On Wednesday, Hendrix announced one of two new assistant coaching hires set to be made. Rod Ojong officially joined Hendrix's staff as the new cornerbacks coach. Ojong previously served as cornerbacks coach at Austin Peay last season. Prior to that, Ojong was a defensive graduate assistant in the 2016 and 2017 seasons at North Carolina.
Ojong also gained coaching experience at Memphis, West Georgia, Lindsey Wilson and Monmouth (Ill.) College. The Brooklyn native was a team captain as a senior linebacker at Monmouth in 2011 and he recorded a team-high 104 tackles that season.
"I met him several years ago and was impressed with him from the start," Hendrix said. "He's had some tremendous mentors and comes highly recommended from some of the best coaches in all of college football."
Hendrix said the final assistant to fill out his coaching staff would likely be hired after spring practice, which is set to conclude on Feb. 26.