Southern football coach Stump Mitchell appears close to filling out his staff.
With spots for a defensive assistant and special-teams coach open, Mitchell has been interviewing candidates and hopes to plug both holes by the first of July.
On Saturday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that the two roles would be handled by one person: Marty Biagi, who coached defensive backs at Arkansas Pine-Bluff last season.
Biagi’s mother, Marie, confirmed the hire by phone, but Mitchell said he has made no decision.
“Do I like him? Yes, I like him, but he has not been offered the job yet,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he has spoken with Biagi and three others about his open positions.
Prior to coaching, Biagi was a punter at Marshall, where he was a three-year letterwinner and two-time academic All-Conference USA selection.
That’s a plus for Mitchell, whose teams struggled in the kicking department last year. The Jaguars were just 5-for-10 on field goals, hit only 76 percent of extra-point attempts, and fell behind opponents in both average yards per punt and net punting average.
“I want somebody who has experience kicking,” Mitchell said. “He has great qualities that I’m interested in, but he does not have a job yet.”
Ideally, Mitchell said he would like to hire two assistants to help with defense and special teams. Biagi offers experience in both areas.
Special teams and Biagi’s defensive backs were two of the biggest differences in Southern’s 22-21 loss to UAPB last season. The Jaguars threw two interceptions — one of which led to a touchdown — missed an extra point, failed on a two-point conversion attempt and had another, low-flying extra point blocked as time expired.
Biagi previously served as a defensive and special-teams coach for three seasons while a graduate assistant at Arkansas.
“I’m happy for him,” then-Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino told the Democrat-Gazette after Biagi left for UAPB last spring. “He did a great job for us as a graduate assistant, not only what he (did) coaching our kickers and punters, but also what he did in recruiting. He was able to go outside the state in Virginia and North Carolina.
“He’s got a bright future ahead of him. He’ll do a really good job. He’s a good, young coach.”