This first name that came to mind when I heard that Indiana was going to name position coach Nick Sheridan as their next offensive coordinator was Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay.
Not because of similarities in scheme or background or anything specific like that, but Sheridan, like McVay, is young. Very young.
And like McVay, Sheridan is thought of as a bright football mind who folks have always taken a chance on at a young age because they see the potential.
At just 31 years old, Sheridan is very young for power five coordinator standards. In fact, he is less than half the age of former IU offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, who brought Sheridan along with him from Tennessee.
Along with 32 year old defensive coordinator Kane Wommack, Indiana head coach Tom Allen has the youngest coordinator duo in power five college football.
But there is a reason why Sheridan got this job, and several other opportunities along they way, at a young age.
Sheridan has been around the game — and a student of the game — his entire life.
A FOOTBALL LIFE
If the name Bill Sheridan sounds familiar in the context of football, there is a good chance that he coached a team near you. Like most football coaches, Nick’s father has had a coaching career that has had many stops along the way.
And in Bill’s case, there have been several high profile stops.
Making it as far as defensive coordinator in the NFL on two occasions, Bill was the linebackers coach for the 2007 Super Bowl champion New York Giants. His defensive coordinator stints were with the Giants (2009) and Tampa Bay (2012-13).
A Detroit native, Bill played college football at Grand Valley State, and he got his first coaching opportunity as a graduate assistant at Michigan during the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
His next stop was in Maine as a linebackers coach, and that is where Nick was born in 1988. Growing up in a football household, Nick simply grew up as a student of the game.
Subsequent stops saw Bill go to Cincinnati, Army, Michigan State, Notre Dame and ultimately back to Michigan before heading to the professional ranks.
After 13 seasons in the NFL, Bill has returned to the college level where he is currently the defensive coordinator for Boston College.
A MICHIGAN MAN
Not long after his father left Ann Arbor for the NFL, Nick arrived as a walk-on quarterback for the Wolverines. Arriving in 2006, he played there for his first two seasons under head coach Lloyd Carr, and his last three under Rich Rodriguez.
Rodriguez ultimately granted Nick a scholarship, and he appeared in a total of 10 games during his career, including eight during the 2008 season.
Playing at 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, Sheridan beat out Steven Threet for the starting quarterback job in 2008. He was 11-of-19 for 98 yards along with a touchdown and an interception as the Wolverines lost their season opener against Utah.
Threet took over as the starter after week one, but he dealt with injuries and Sheridan played extensively, including starts in the last three games of the season. His best performance came in a win against Minnesota, when Nick went 18-of-30 for 203 yards and a touchdown.
Michigan finished the season 3-9, their worst campaign in nearly half a century.
In 2009 Sheridan came up on the short end of a quarterback competition that included freshmen Tate Forcier and eventual star Denard Robinson.
Nick never played against Indiana. For his career he was 70-of-148 passing (47.3 percent) for 701 yards to go with 2 touchdowns and six interceptions. He added 45 carries for 103 yards and another score.
During his time at Michigan, Sheridan also worked behind future NFL quarterbacks Chad Henne and Ryan Mallett. He is a 2010 graduate of Michigan with a degree in political science.
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON
After graduating, Sheridan spent one fall coaching at his high school in Saline, Mich. Bill also coached a Michigan high school team as his first job after his playing career.
Nick then landed a job as a graduate assistant on Willie Taggart’s staff at Western Kentucky in 2011. Michigan was the common denominator between Taggart and Sheridan.
Taggart played quarterback at Western Kentucky for former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh’s father Jack. The elder Harbaugh then hired Taggart to join him on the Hilltoppers’ coaching staff. After Taggart worked under Jim Harbaugh for several years at Stanford, he returned to Western Kentucky as its head coach and brought on Sheridan.
Bill Sheridan was a graduate assistant in 1985-86 at Michigan when Jim Harbaugh played there, and the elder Sheridan also coached with Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh at Cincinnati from 1989-91.
A VERY YOUNG FULL TIME COACH
Sheridan was promoted to full-time quarterbacks coach at Western Kentucky at age 24 after his stint as a graduate assistant.
When Taggart got the head coaching job at South Florida, Sheridan was one of five Western Kentucky assistants to join the Bulls staff in 2013.
By chance, father and son got to spend that year together in Tampa, as 2013 was one of two years that Bill spent as the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator.
While the family reunion was fortunate, it didn’t last. USF finished 108th in the nation in passing offense, finishing the season averaging 166.8 yards per game. Taggart fired offensive coordinator Walt Wells and Sheridan. The Buccaneers fired Bill after the 2013 season as well.
Tom Allen would serve as Taggart’s defensive coordinator at USF in 2015, and current IU offensive line coach Darren Hiller was a co-offensive coordinator there in 2016.
THE PATH TO INDIANA VIA KNOXVILLE
Sheridan saw a familiar orange at the Gator Bowl last week. And it was another former Michigan connection that gave him his next break in his career.
An offensive coordinator for the Wolverines under Carr, Mike DeBord was the Michigan play caller when Sheridan was there in 2006-07. Also in Ann Arbor at the time was Indiana running backs coach Mike Hart, who was first team All-Big Ten in 2007.
Sheridan spent his next three years (2014-16) at Tennessee as a graduate assistant under DeBord, who was now the offensive coordinator for the Vols. DeBord, who also had offensive line duties in Knoxville, has stated that in many ways he gave Sheridan the quarterback room at Tennessee.
Sheridan played a major role in developing Joshua Dobbs, who went on to become one of the most prolific passers in progam history and a fourth round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
An All-SEC selection, Dobbs became only the third QB in SEC history with 15 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing TDs in multiple seasons (Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott). Dobbs finished his career with 7,138 passing yards, the fifth-most in UT history. He also became just the fifth player in Vols history to eclipse 7,000 career passing yards.
“I know I had the title of coaching the quarterbacks, but I was assisting with the offensive line during those two years and Nick had the quarterbacks in meetings, practice and game preparation and did an outstanding job with them,” DeBord said when he brought Sheridan to IU. “I believe that Josh Dobbs success as a quarterback these past two years is not only the result of what Josh did but also what Nick did as a coach in his preparation and continuing his growth. I know he’ll continue to do a great job with our quarterbacks at Indiana University.”
DeBord was so impressed with Sheridan that he brought him along when the pair came to Bloomington in 2017 to serve under new head coach Tom Allen. Sheridan had briefly joined Central Michigan as a running backs coach in January, 2017 before choosing to come to IU a month later.
“Nick is a young offensive mind that I am very impressed with,” Allen said when he hired Sheridan in 2017. “I love the fact that he is a coach’s son. He has been around this game his entire life.”
Sheridan took the title of quarterbacks coach for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and then ceded that role to Kalen DeBoer and become the tight ends coach in 2019.
In 2017, the Hoosiers 265.7 passing yards per game ranked 35th in the country. Richard Lagow (1,936 yards; 15 TDs) and Ramsey (1,252 yards; 10 TDs) combined for 3,188 yards and 25 scores while completing 61.2 percent of their passes.
Ramsey earned freshman All-Big Ten honors after he set a then-school record (2nd in the Big Ten, T-13th nationally) with a 65.4 completion percentage. He has gone on to become IU’s all-time completion percentage leader under Sheridan’s tutelage.
Sheridan was named one of the nation’s Top 30 coaches under 30 years of age by 247Sports.com in 2017.
For the second-straight season in 2018, the Hoosiers finished third in the Big Ten in passing offense (257.8).
As the IU tight ends coach in 2019, Sheridan helped Peyton Hendershot eclipse the program’s all-time receiving yards in a season mark for a tight end.
Sheridan’s continuing influence in the quarterback room this year saw Ramsey and Michael Penix, Jr. combine to go 314-of-460 passing (68.3 percent) for 23 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and 3,848 yards.
After it was announced that Kalen DeBoer would become the head coach at Fresno State, Allen indicated that he wanted to identify an offensive coordinator that would maintain the same offensive system that DeBoer used.
Going into his fourth season at Indiana including a year under DeBoer, new offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan is well suited to do just that.
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