Derek Mason's first staff at Vanderbilt is nearing its completion as the 44-year old head coach has hired former UCLA head coach and Houston Texans quarterback coach Karl Dorrell as the team's offensive coordinator.
VandySports.com broke the news on Dorrell inside the War Room late Tuesday night and the appointment was later confirmed by sources in contact with FootballScoop.com, one of the industry leaders in coaching moves.
"He's a young 50. Has the legs and the desire to recruit and has the brains and experience to score all the points they will need." an assistant in the NFL told the FootballScoop.
Official Vanderbilt confirmation of Dorrell's hire is expected shortly.
Dorrell, who's also expected to coach the Vanderbilt quarterbacks, comes from a heavy offensive background that includes nine years of service as a position coach in the NFL, seven years as an offensive coordinator on the college level and a focus on developing both receivers and quarterbacks as a position coach.
The 50-year old native Alamenda, California has spent the last two years as the quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans. He was a part of a Texans coaching staff that led the young franchise to its best season in team history in 2012, going 12-4 and capturing a AFC South Division title before losing in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub passed for 4,008 yards and 22 touchdowns against 12 interceptions under Dorrell in 2012, earning his second career spot in the Pro Bowl while ranking 9th in the league in passer rating.
Though things went completely sour for the Texans in 2013, Dorrell did gain praise throughout the coaching community for his work with undrafted back-up quarterback Case Keenum after an injury to Schaub in the sixth game of the season. Keenum threw for 1,760 yards and nine touchdowns against six interceptions in 8 starts and ranked fifth in the league in yards per completion.
Dorrell's first stint as a NFL QB coach came a year before in 2011 when he instructed Miami Dolphins passers. Injury was also a issue that season as starter Chad Henne went down with a dislocated shoulder in Week 4, after throwing for 861 yards in the Dolphins first three games. Backup Matt Moore took over and enjoyed his best season of his career under Dorrell, throwing for 2,497 yards and 16 touchdowns against just nine picks. Miami went 6-6 with Moore at quarterback after starting off the season at 0-4.
Dorrell spent three seasons as the Dolphins receivers coach as well, overseeing a unit that was primarily comprised of Davone Bess, Ted Ginn Jr, Greg Camarillo, Brian Hartline and later Brandon Marshall. The trio of Bess, Ginn and Camarillo combined for 1,957 yards in 2008 en route to a 11-5 record and AFC East Division title. He coached a trio of Marshall, Hartline and Bess to 2,449 receiving yards in 2010. Those numbers could've been even better had Marshall not missed a pair of games due to injury.
Perhaps Dorrell's most significant coaching job came between 2003-2007 when he served as the head coach of his alma mater, UCLA. The Bruins went 35-27 under Dorrell's guidance during five seasons, culminating with five bowl appearances and a 24-18 record within the Pac 10 conference.
Dorrell's strongest year in Pasadena came in his third season in 2005 where he directed the Bruins to a 10-2 record that included wins over Oklahoma, a Top 10 ranked California and a win over Northwestern in the Sun Bowl. UCLA was ranked much of the season, reaching as high as 7th in the AP Top 25 before suffering an upset loss at Arizona. The Bruins were ranked 13th in the final coaches poll and 16th in the final AP poll following the 2005 bowl season.
UCLA ranked 23rd in total offense that season and was fifth in scoring offense with an average of 39 points per game. The Bruins also ranked fourth in pass efficiency under Dorrell and offensive coordinator and future Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable. Quarterback Drew Olson passed for 3,198 yards and 34 touchdowns against just six interceptions that season and future NFL Pro Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew was one of the nation's most explosive players with nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards and 20 total touchdowns. Future NFL tight end Marcedes Lewis also ranked among the nation's best with 741 yards and 10 touchdowns on 58 receptions.
UCLA went 7-6 the following year in 2006 despite the loss of many major players including Olson, Jones-Drew and Lewis. The Bruins started the season at 4-1 but lost four straight with three losses against Top 20 teams Oregon, Notre Dame and Cal. UCLA did close out the year with three wins including a win over 10-4 Oregon State and a 13-9 win over rival USC when the Trojans were ranked No. 2 in the country. The victory denied USC an opportunity to return to the BCS National Championship game.
UCLA came into the 2007 season with high expectations and a 14th ranking in the Top 25, but a 4-1 start was undermined quickly due to a rash of injuries, including a pair of injuries to starting quarterback Ben Olson and later backup passer Patrick Cowan. The offense struggled greatly without consistency at quarterback and a offensive line that struggled to protect passers.
UCLA still managed to go 6-6 and defeat a No. 10 California during the season and shutout No.9 Oregon to highlight the season. The Bruins also nearly upset No. 9 Arizona that season despite playing with third string quarterback Osaar Rasshan. Dorrell was dismissed as head coach after a 24-7 loss to No. 8 USC in the Bruins season-finale.
Dorrell spent three years as the Denver Broncos receivers coach in 2000-2002 under head coach Mike Shanahan. Dorrell's first season included a potent 1-2 punch as Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey became just the second set of receivers in league history to post 100 receptions in a season. The duo also combined for 1,919 yards and 17 touchdowns as the Broncos went 11-5 and reached the AFC playoffs as a wildcard.
Smith went on to post two more 1,000 yard seasons under Dorrell while McCaffrey rebounded from a injury plagued 2001 to haul in over 900 yards in 2002. Smith was named a Pro Bowler twice and McCaffrey got the nod once under Dorrell's time with Denver.
Dorrell has served as an offensive coordinator at the college level for seven seasons, all coming early in his coaching career. He got his start as a coordinator in 1990 at Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks offense set or broke school records during his two years under head coach Steve Axman. It was there that he met Derek Mason, who was playing as a corner for the Lumberjacks at the time.
After spending three successful years as a receivers coach at both Colorado and Arizona State, Dorrell emerged as a play-caller in 1995 under former college teammate and new Colorado head coach Rick Neuheisel.
The Buffs came out of the gates on fire during that debut season, averaging 43.6 points per game while going 5-0 with wins over No.3 Texas A&M and at 10th ranked Oklahoma. Colorado went on to also defeat No. 7 Kansas State and No. 12 Oregon in the Cotton Bowl to finish 10-2 and ranked 5th in the final AP poll. Colorado averaged 37 points game overall that season and were led by quarterbacks John Hessler and Koy Detmer whom combined for 3,237 yards and 28 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. The offense also featured 1,000 yard receiver Rae Carruth and all-purpose running back Herchell Troutman.
The Buffaloes started off the 1996 season ranked 5th in the country and went 10-2 with its only losses coming to 4th ranked Nebraska and 11th ranked Michigan. Detmer passed for 3,156 yards and 22 touchdowns as the full-time starter while Carruth and Phil Savoy combined for over 1,700 yards receiving and Troutman posted another 1,000 yard all-purpose season. Colorado ranked No. 8 in the final AP poll.
Colorado went 13-10 in Dorrell's final two seasons in Boulder, highlighted by a 8-4 season in 1998 that included wins over No. 15 Colorado State and No. 21 Oregon.
He spent the 1999 season as the offensive coordinator at Washington after Neuheisel took over as Huskies head coach. The Huskies averaged nearly 28 points per game through a 7-4 regular season, highlighted by wins over ranked teams Oregon and Stanford. Dorrell's offense featured a balanced passing attack as five players posted 200 receiving yards or more, led by Gerald Harris' 571 and Chris Juergens' 516. Three players also rushed for 400 yards or more during the season.
Dorrell starred at receiver for UCLA in the 1980's, posting 1,517 yards on 108 receptions. A part of three Rose Bowl winning teams under head coach Terry Donahue, Dorrell went on to spend some time with the Dallas Cowboys before moving on to coaching.
With a heavy background in the West Coast, Pro-Style offense, Dorrell is likely to establish a balanced passed attack with a versatile running game. Some of the basic principles of Dorrell's offense will likely fall in line with the Commodores former offensive philosophy under James Franklin.
Mason has also hired San Jose State defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson according to various reports, including Pete Roussell of CoachingSearch.com. He's expected to coach the Commodores outside linebackers.
He comes to Vanderbilt with a heavy background as a linebacker coach, specializing in the 3-4. The Houston native gained notoriety as the recruiting coordinator, associate head coach and linebackers coach at Cal for six years prior to coming back to San Jose.
Spearheading the Golden Bears recruiting effort, Thompson was recognized by many as a Top 25 national recruiter while securing several Top 25 recruiting classes. The 2010 signing class was ranked 11th by Rivals.com, the second highest ranking for the Golden Bears during the networks existence. Cal also had classes that ranked 17th and 23rd respectively with Thompson's help.
Known as a high-energy coach, Thompson mentored several exceptional linebackers at Cal including future pros Mychal Kendricks, the 2011 Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Mike Mohamed and D.J. Holt.
Thompson worked six years at San Jose State previously, primarily as a linebackers and defensive coach under Fitz Hill and later Dick Tomey. The highlight of his term in San Jose came in 2006 when the Spartans went 9-4 and won the New Mexico Bowl.
He spent seven years at Texas Southern and began his coaching career at his alma mater, Harding University.
Mason is expected to fill a few more spots on his staff in the coming days, including a defensive backs coach.