Scott Wachenheim has never coached in the NFL, but he has known Jim Zorn for 17 years.
That connection helped him Thursday, when he made the jump from assistant head coach at Liberty University to tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins.
"Scott is an experienced coach who has been successful in the collegiate ranks," Zorn said in a statement issued by the team. "He is a great communicator and an excellent teacher and has a strong desire to win. Throughout the interview process, the entire coaching staff was impressed with Scott's outstanding poise, ability and strong understanding of the game."
Wachenheim, 46, replaces Rennie Simmons, who retired Jan. 7 after 27 NFL seasons, including 18 with the Redskins. Wachenheim inherits Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley, solid veteran Todd Yoder and 2008 second-round draft choice Fred Davis. He was chosen over Bill Khayat, Washington's offensive quality control coach the past two seasons.
"If you are a competitor, you always want to compete at the highest level against the very best coaches," Wachenheim said in a team statement. "So to me, that is the most appealing aspect: having the opportunity to test my abilities against the very best in the business."
Wachenheim was a four-year starter on Air Force's offensive line, and earned honorable mention All-American honors as a senior in 1983, when the Falcons finished second in the nation in rushing. He stuck around after graduation to act as the offensive coordinator for Air Force's junior varsity. After fulfilling his military service obligations, he resumed his coaching career with two seasons at Arkansas and one with Colorado.
In 1992, Wachenheim was hired as recruiting coordinator at Utah State, where he also coached tight ends and offensive tackles under Zorn, who was the offensive coordinator. The Aggies won the Big West Conference and the Las Vegas Bowl in 1993.
He then spent 12 years at Rice, including five as the offensive coordinator, before becoming Liberty's offensive coordinator and line coach in 2006. He added the assistant head coach title in 2007. The Flames won the Big South Conference in 2008 and finished ninth in total offense in the Football Championship Subdivision.
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