We already knew the Aggies were in the market for a new RB coach, with the team not renewing the contract of Tommie Robinson. But it appears they may be hiring a new position coach on the other side of the ball as well, as ESPN’s Pete Thamel is reporting that A&M Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebacker Coach Tyler Santucci is being targeted as the new defensive coordinator for the Duke Blue Devils.
Sources: Duke is targeting Texas A&M assistant Tyler Santucci to be the school’s next defensive coordinator. He’d replace Robb Smith, who returned to his family’s home in MInnesota to be closer to them.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 21, 2023
The head coach at Duke is of course former A&M DC Mike Elko. Santucci worked with Elko at A&M, Notre Dame and Wake Forest, so to say the two are familiar with each other is an understatement. Duke is in the market for a DC after Robb Smith is stepping down from the role after one season, reportedly to be closer to his family in Minnesota.
Santucci has been a highly-regarded assistant over the past few seasons, which is part of why he was given a raise and a Co-DC title one year ago in order to retain him following the departure of Elko to Duke. However, the Aggies’ recent recruiting struggles at linebacker may have many A&M fans welcoming his departure. For two years in a row, the Aggies secured a verbal commitment from the nation’s top linebacker only to see them decommit and end up signing with a rival school (Harold Perkins to LSU in 2022, Anthony Hill to Texas in 2023). In addition, the Aggies saw three linebackers hit the transfer portal in Andre White, Tarian Lee and Ish Harris, and have failed to bring in any portal linebackers of their own, despite reportedly heavy pursuit of guys like Mason Cobb (Oklahoma State to USC), Omar Speights (Oregon State to LSU) and Monty Montgomery (Louisville to Ole Miss).
While this departure would open up a position on the coaching staff position, it’s not a foregone conclusion that it would be another linebacker coach. Defensive Coordinator D.J. Durkin served as the LB Coach when he was a DC at Ole Miss, so he could potentially do so again in College Station. If he did, it seems likely A&M would look to add another secondary coach to complement T.J. Rushing.