Monday evening, the Carolina Panthers announced the hires of three new coaches and one assistant who has been promoted to a bigger role.
Frank Okam - Defensive Line Coach
Okam played his college ball at the University of Texas where he collected 95 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans where he spent the first two and a half years of his career. He then bounced around the league to three other teams playing for the Seahawks, Buccaneers, and Giants before getting into coaching.
Okam spent four years at Rice where he began as a grad assistant in 2014 and then was promoted to defensive line coach in 2016. One year after Matt Rhule went 1-11 in his first year as the head coach at Baylor, he hired Okam to be the team's defensive line coach and helped turn the Bears around. He followed Rhule to Carolina last year and was a defensive line assistant.
Don Johnson - Pass rush specialist
Johnson will be entering his 44th year of coaching. Since he won't be in a coordinating role, he may get overlooked but this is a quality hire for Carolina. Johnson has coached at high school, junior college, Division I-AA, Division I-A, and the NFL - he has seen it all. Over the last 15 years, Johnson has been mainly a defensive line coach in the NFL (2005-06 Bears, 2007-08 Raiders, 2009-15 Chargers, 2018 Cardinals).
The Panthers struggled to get to the quarterback a year ago averaging just 1.8 sacks per game. Johnson's expertise should help youngsters like Yetur Gross-Matos, Derrick Brown, and Brian Burns elevate their game.
Garret McGuire - Coaching assistant
McGuire becomes the youngest coach on the Panthers roster as he jumps straight out of playing college football to coaching in the NFL. McGuire played three years at Baylor under Matt Rhule as a quarterback but only saw action in four games. Despite coming right out of college, McGuire does have the coaching gene in his blood. His father, Joey McGuire, is the assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach at Baylor.
Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton - Coaching assistant
Knighton is another Rhule connection as he played at Temple from 2005-08. Before flipping over to the offensive side in 2007, Rhule spent his first season as the team's defensive line coach in 2006 and was able to develop a strong relationship with Knighton.
During his playing career, Knighton was a force in the middle. He totaled 184 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, and six sacks during his time at Temple. He went on to be drafted in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Knighton put together a pretty solid seven-year NFL career registering 230 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 38 QB hits, and 14 sacks. In addition to the Jaguars, Knighton also played for Denver and Washington.
Knighton got his start in coaching in 2018 as the defensive line coach at Wagner College, where he spent three seasons prior to being hired by Rhule in Carolina.
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