Football: SMU poaches UConn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee

Former UConn football offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will leave the Huskies for the same role with the SMU Mustangs. (Photo courtesy of UConn Athletics)

Former UConn football offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will leave the Huskies for the same role with the SMU Mustangs. (Photo courtesy of UConn Athletics)

UConn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee left Storrs for greener pastures Thursday after just one year with the program. Lashlee will join new SMU head coach Sonny Dykes’ staff in the same role, leading the Mustangs’ offense.

“The draw to be closer to home for Lauren and I (with fouryoung kids) was something we could not pass up,” Lashlee said in a statement.

Lashlee was courted by “multiple Power Five programs,” according to Pony Stampede’s Billy Embody, who first broke the news, but ultimately chose to sign with the Mustangs in a huge blow to UConn.

Lashlee improved UConn’s offense drastically in nearly every category in 2017. The Huskies went from 120th to 82nd in yards per play, and 127th to 102nd in explosiveness (points per play), mostly due to Lashlee’s unique spread-option offense.

Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs had by far the best season of his career under Lashlee, completing 67 percent of his passes for 2287 yards and 14 touchdowns, all career-highs despite only playing nine games.

Lashlee had a big hand in senior running back Arkeel Newsome’s resurgence, turning him from an every down workhorse back into a change-of-pace receiving threat. The move paid dividends as Newsome caught 25 passes for 541 yards receiving and averaged 8.7 yards per play from the line of scrimmage, all career-highs.  

Lashlee’s offense was also instrumental in the development of promising young skill players Kevin Mensah, Nate Hopkins and Hergy Mayala, all of whom had great seasons.

Lashlee came to UConn last year from football powerhouse Auburn, taking less money and moving farther away from his wife and children to coach with the Huskies. Now, UConn will see Lashlee, potentially the Huskies’ future head coach, take his offensive schemes to a American Athletic Conference rival.


Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.