Patriots Add Former USC Kicker to Coaching Staff: Report

Joe Houston Alabama

Getty Images The Patriots have added another member of the Alabama coaching staff in 2020.

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick has a well-documented relationship with the University of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, including four years together on the Cleveland Browns’ staff from 1991-94. Saban was hired at Alabama in 2007, but the two coaching icons have remained connected in the years since – including sharing insights and talent from their respective programs.

In late January, New England hired former Alabama safety and graduate assistant Vinnie Sunseri for a support staff role. The former fifth-round pick spent time on the Patriots practice squad back in 2016 and clearly left an impression on Belichick and company during his brief stint. Now it appears another Alabama staff member has been poached by Foxborough’s finest.

According to The Athletic’s national college football writer Bruce Feldman, the Patriots have added former Alabama analyst Joe Houston to their 2020 staff as an assistant special teams coach.

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Per Michael Casagrande of

Houston was one of 11 analysts on the Alabama staff last season after coming over from Iowa State. He was an on-field assistant with the Cyclone in 2018 as the special teams coordinator but had been moved back into an off-field role before leaving for Alabama.

The former USC kicker was known as a “kicking whisperer,” The Des Moines Register wrote upon his promotion in 2018, but his role at Alabama prevented him from personally instructing the kickers in Tuscaloosa.

Houston appears to be at least part of the Patriots gap-fill solution to help replace former special teams coordinator Joe Judge, who was named the new head coach of the New York Giants earlier this offseason. While no official decision has been made, Cam Achord, New England’s assistant special teams coach in 2018-19, appears to be the favorite to take over Judge’s vacancy while receiving help from Houston and others.

During his redshirt senior season in 2010, Houston led USC in scoring to the tune of 100 percent PAT (43-of-43) and 62.5 percent field goal (10-of-16) conversion rates. He would later continue his pro kicking career with brief stints in the Arena Football League and Indoor Football League.

The former Trojan should provide some new perspective for veteran K Stephen Gostkowski, who missed all but four games last season after being placed on injured reserve in early October with a hip injury that would require season-ending surgery. The 36-year-old was off to a shaky start, missing a career-worst four extra points in as many weeks. Gostkowski will look to get back to his previously steady performance in 2020 as he plays out the final season of his two-year, $8.5 million extension signed last April.

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