After sharing recruiting trail, Brian Angelichio, Matt Rhule reconnect in Carolina
Back when Angelichio coached at Pitt and Rhule was at Temple, the two would share recruiting tips.
By Myles Simmons Jul 07, 2020

CHARLOTTE – Back when Brian Angelichio and Matt Rhule were college coaches on the recruiting circuit around a decade ago, they'd sometimes meet up for a burger when crossing paths in Pennsylvania.

Angelichio was an assistant coach for Pitt while Rhule was an assistant at Temple. As Angelichio explains it, the two would cross-reference their notes on players they'd seen. Questions like, "Hey, did you go to this school and see this guy?" were common. And if there were a player who wasn't up to a certain standard, one would let the other know he could save himself a trip.

"I guess we're not supposed to do this," Angelichio recently admitted, with the statute of limitations having expired. "We were just young and running around the Philly area and Harrisburg area, recruiting as many players as we could."

While the two coaches shared that previous connection, they did not work together until Rhule hired Angelichio as Carolina's tight ends coach in January. He's coached the position for over a decade, spending the last eight seasons in the NFL.

Angelichio began coaching soon after finishing his playing career at St. Lawrence University, where he was a three-year starter at outside linebacker. After a season at SUNY-Brockport as secondary coach, he moved to Ithaca College in Upstate New York.

While Angelichio started off coaching linebackers for the Division III program, he moved to wide receivers, then offensive line before spending 2000-05 as the program's offensive coordinator. He believes he benefited from not only moving from defense to offense but also from coaching a small program.

"We didn't quite line the fields on our own," Angelichio joked, "but I think when you do that, and then (become) the offensive coordinator at a Division III school, you have a knowledge of the offense. You don't have the luxury of having a full staff of 10 assistants like you do in Division I. So if you want to put a play in, you have to understand it from all areas."

In 2006, Angelichio moved on to Pitt to coach under Dave Wannstedt for five seasons before heading to Rutgers to coach tight ends under Greg Schiano. Angelichio then took the same position under Schiano with the Buccaneers in 2012, and he's been coaching NFL tight ends ever since.

From stops in Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Green Bay and Washington, Angelichio has seen the position evolve as fast as any in football.

"(Tight ends are) kind of becoming a weapon that can be used in so many different ways," said Angelichio, who in 2015 helped coach former Panther Gary Barnidge to a Pro Bowl.

"People want that pass-catcher that can run down the field, that can beat the safeties and the linebackers and can control inside the numbers. Then you want to have that guy that has enough flexibility where you can split him out. Then you've got to have him in-line in the run game," Angelichio continued. "So I think that hybrid type, that dual-threat is really what everyone is searching for because I think it allows you the most flexibility for an offense.

"You try not to be one-dimensional, where when this guy's in, you're just running the ball. Or when this guy's in, you're just throwing the ball. As much diversity as you can create within the groupings, I think it presents more problems for the defense."

That means each tight end on the roster needs to learn every aspect of the position, from run blocking to running routes when lined up on the outside as a wide receiver.

"I have told every tight end that I've coached, 'I am not going to pigeonhole you into — you only do this. After that, it'll be our job to be able to put you in the best position on Sundays,'" Angelichio said.

It will take some time for the Panthers' coaching staff to determine exact strengths and weaknesses once training camp begins. But Angelichio liked what he saw from Carolina's tight ends during the virtual offseason program, calling the group hard working and focused.

Of course, the position lost significant production when the Panthers released Greg Olsen after his ninth season in Carolina. 

"Obviously, it'll be a big year for the group to see who steps up," Angelichio said. 

The bulk of that opportunity will go to Ian Thomas, who flashed potential when filling in for an injured Olsen the past two seasons. According to Angelichio, the Packers were targeting Thomas in the 2018 draft, but the Panthers grabbed him before Green Bay could do it later in the fourth round.

"He's a guy who kind of does a little bit of everything," Angelichio said. "He's got some strength. He's got explosion. He's a guy who can run, can catch the ball, blocks. So we're excited."

Angelichio also likes the depth at his position. Some players have NFL experience like Chris Manhertz, Temarrick Hemingway, and Alex Armah, who is technically listed as a fullback. Colin Thompson, who played under Rhule at Temple product, has been on offseason rosters and played in the XFL before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the league. Plus, undrafted free agents Giovanni Ricci and Cam Sutton will compete for a roster spot during camp.

"We might be young, but between Temarrick, and Chris and Alex, those guys have played real football in real games, and that's all real positive stuff," Angelichio said. "I think collectively, when you add in Collin Thompson, and then Gio Ricci and Cam Sutton, we're gonna be able to put some guys out there that I think that we'll be happy with and will help us as a football team."

back to top

Related Content