John Denton's Knights Insider: O'Leary Happy with Coaching Consistency

Jan. 28, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF head coach George O'Leary is a big believer that coaching continuity and consistency play a major role in a program's ability to have sustained success. So with that thought in mind, O'Leary's choice for the vacant defensive coordinator job was not only the easy choice, but the only choice.

John Skladany, who served as UCF's defensive coordinator in 2007 and returned this past season as linebackers coach, was promoted from within as the Knights' defensive coordinator on Friday. Skladany was the defensive coordinator on the 2007 UCF team that won the Conference USA title and reached the Liberty Bowl. That defense had five all-conference players and four that went onto play professional football in the NFL or Canada.

Also, O'Leary announced on Friday that 28-year veteran coach Al Seamonson had been hired to be the Knights' linebackers coach. Seamonson worked at Maryland the previous 10 years as a linebackers coach.

``I've always been big on stability and consistency as far as coaches are concerned,'' O'Leary said. ``John had coordinated here before and I've been pleased with what he's done since he's been here and I'm always going to try and promote from within and give loyalty. If you want loyalty, you have to give it. So I was happy to promote John and bring in Al as the linebackers coach.''

The defensive coordinator void was created when popular coach Dave Huxtable left the program to take a similar position at the University of Wisconsin. UCF is coming off its finest season in school history, getting ranked for the first time ever, going 11-3 while winning the C-USA crown and beating Georgia in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

The Knights are entering the final weekend of recruiting before National Signing Day on Wednesday, but O'Leary said that was no rush to have his defensive coaching staff filled out in time for recruits to see what was in place.

``That wasn't a factor at all. I didn't get anybody questioning who was what defensively, probably because of my background,'' said O'Leary who has been recruiting in South Florida, Denver, Louisville and Lexington, Ky. the past week alone. ``It usually affects people more offensively because they want to know what offense you are going to run. Defensively, you have to line up one way or another and tackle the ball.''

O'Leary believes that UCF's defense will be able to make a smooth and easy transition from Huxtable to Skladany because of the familiarity with the coach. His veteran linebacking corps, led by seniors Derrick Hallman and Lawrence Young and junior Josh Linam, was a standout group for the Knights this past season, and O'Leary likes what Skladany has added to the program through the years.

``I think John's a teacher and there's a coach-me-coach attitude that he demands from his players. He works at the game extremely hard,'' O'Leary said. ``And the year with Hux he picked up some things that we'd like to install here. I'm never going to let it get too far away from what I want done. John was a natural choice knowing the situation here, knowing the players and knowing what he has to work with. So it's an easy transition for him.''

Seamonson came highly recommended by former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, a close coaching friend of O'Leary's from their time together at Georgia Tech a decade ago. Seamonson, who has also worked at Wisconsin, Army, The Citadel (with current UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe) and Bowling Green, also has a history of working with special teams and is a strong recruiter who scouted the North Florida area for Maryland.

``Al is the kind of guy who could be a coordinator tomorrow as well,'' O'Leary said of Seamonson's depth of knowledge. ``(Friedgen) called and a number of people called regarding Al. Ralph had high regards for his work ethic and his recruiting abilities and said he was everything that you look for in an assistant coach.''

O'Leary said he couldn't be happier with how the recruiting process has gone and he said more and more high school athletes know about UCF's program now following the Knights successful season, exposure on national television and Liberty Bowl victory. O'Leary said the only task now is retaining the players he has committed and closing on a few other signees.

``We have really filled a lot of positions where we wanted to help ourselves,'' O'Leary said. ``It's not just taking kids, but taking kids who can help you fill your losses. I think we've addressed our depth and added some quality kids.''

John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.