Looking At The Houston Roughnecks 2024 UFL Coaching Staff

Looking At The Houston Roughnecks 2024 UFL Coaching Staff

The Houston Roughnecks have a brand new look for the 2024 UFL season. The team was rebranded from the USFL’s Houston Gamblers, which includes quite a few players – and, most of the coaching staff.

Curtis Johnson and his staff will be featured on the Roughnecks this year, as Wade Phillips & Co. has moved to San Antonio. Let’s take a look at Houston’s staff for this upcoming season.

Curtis ‘CJ’ Johnson – Head Coach

Head Coach Curtis Johnson will be back leading the Houston Roughnecks in 2024. CJ returns after a solid showing last season with the Houston Gamblers in the South Division of the USFL. They finished with a 5-5 record and were in the playoff race all the way through week ten. Overall, Johnson has had a very lengthy and successful career in the NCAA, as well as the NFL.

As a wide receivers coach, he won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints and a National Championship at the University of Miami. Following his success as an assistant, Johnson went on to become the head coach of Tulane University where he found early success – although he had his struggles in later years. He left the Green Wave with a 15-34 record, and after returning to the NFL as a receivers coach, was hired by the Gamblers in 2023.

Johnson has always been lauded as a fantastic recruiter – the UFL combines his ability to develop players and lead a locker room of professional athletes. The Roughnecks also don’t have a wide receiver coach on their staff, so expect Johnson to take some extra time coaching up that group.

Lionel Vital – General Manager

General Manager Lionel Vital is a new face in the front office for the Houston Roughnecks. He replaced GM Robert Morris, after Morris stepped down following the 2023 season. Vital has been around the game of football for a long time. He was drafted as a running back by the Washington Commanders in 1985 and played for four different NFL franchises, as well as two CFL squads. Following his playing career, Vital spent time at several different spots.

He worked as a scout and a front office member in the NFL, as well as alternative leagues. Vital has won four Super Bowls and a Grey Cup championship, so his qualifications speak for themselves. Most recently, he held the title of Senior Personnel Executive for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. This head coach/general manager pairing has the potential to blossom into one of the better duos in the league.

Eric Price – Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach

Eric Price returns to Houston as the OC and QB Coach under Curtis Johnson. In what seems to be a trend, Price is also very experienced as a coach, at both the collegiate and professional level. Price served under Johnson at Tulane University, where he held the same position that he currently does.

He’s had stops with the Jets, Chiefs, and Jaguars in the NFL, along with Tulane and Alabama in college. The offensive continuity and carryover from last season to this season should be a huge advantage for Houston. Returning players will be in year two of an offense which is certainly a positive.

Bob Connelly – Offensive Line Coach

A new face we’ll see coaching in Houston this season is O-Line Coach Bob Connelly. Connelly has been an offensive line coach at a multitude of different universities over the past two decades. Some of his more notable stops include: Alabama, USC, Arizona State, and Northern Arizona.

He was listed as a Top 25 recruiter by Rivals.com in 2005, showing how important player development is to this staff and league. His work with this group is a vital part of the Roughnecks’ season in 2024. Offensive line is the most developmental positional group in football, so Connelly has an opportunity to leave his mark.

Jordan Higgins – Tight Ends Coach

Tight Ends Coach Jordan Higgins will take over for Ray Rychleski this season in Houston. Higgins is a young coach, having played center at Texas Wesleyan University from 2018-2020.

After his playing career was cut short due to injury, he began coaching at TWU. He was the offensive line coach from that point on, prior to joining the Roughnecks staff during the offseason. He should bring a unique perspective to the TE room that will help with their blocking and run game.

Chris Wilson – Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach

Chris Wilson returns to the Roughnecks holding the same title he did last year with the Gamblers on Curtis Johnson’s staff. Wilson has been coaching for over thirty years at both the college and pro level. Most notably, he won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 as their defensive line coach.

Wilson is a former NFL draft pick, and prior to joining the coaching staff in 2023, he was the defensive coordinator for the University of Colorado. He has great personnel to work with this year and we should expect them to find a lot of success shutting down opposing offenses.

Kwahn Drake – Defensive Line Coach

Kwahn Drake retains his same position from last season with Houston. Prior to the 2023 season, Drake coached D-Line for the Michigan Panthers under Jeff Fisher, so this will be his third straight season coaching defensive line in the spring. Drake is noted for being extremely energetic and enthusiastic with both his players and staff. He has loads of experience coaching in college like much of the staff, and has spent time with Curtis Johnson at Tulane when CJ was the head coach of the Green Wave.

Brett Maxie – Defensive Backs Coach

Brett Maxie also returns holding the same position he did last season in the USFL with Houston. Maxie spent 13 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back with the Saints, Falcons, Panthers, and 49ers. He immediately began coaching when he retired in 1997 and spent time as a secondary coach with six NFL franchises. He bounced between college and pro football for the next two decades, and most recently was with Colorado as their safeties coach, before joining the Houston staff in 2023.

Zach Shagi – Assistant Secondary Coach

Shagi is another familiar face with the Roughnecks in 2024, but he has a slightly different title than last season. He was previously the Assistant Defensive Backs/Defensive Quality Coach. He’ll likely do much of the same this year for Houston. He started his coaching career at the high school level before spending time in the XFL, so he’s no stranger to spring football.

Garret Chachere – Special Teams Coach

Chachere is also returning with a different coaching title this year. He’ll be running special teams for the Roughnecks in 2024 after spending last season on the same staff as the Running Backs/Wide Receivers/Offensive Quality Coach. He has been coaching since 1991, and has worked at 13 different schools prior to joining Houston.

What are your thoughts on the Houston Roughnecks coaching staff for the 2024 UFL season? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!