via/ Hawaii Football

Hawai’i football adds former Jets, Bills DC among latest staff changes


HONOLULU – The staff tweaks keep coming for the University of Hawai’i football program. 

After not renewing the expiring contracts of three coaches earlier this month, the ‘Bows coaching staff received a few more changes on January 19 as Colorado defensive quality control coach Dennis Thurman officially signed on to be the Rainbow Warriors’ defensive coordinator for the 2024 season, reassigning coach Jacob Yoro to head the safeties room. Thurman, a former NFL defensive back, has 31 years of coaching experience under his belt, 17 coming at the NFL level with two stops in the AFC East as a defensive coordinator for four seasons. 

In addition to Thurman, the ‘Bows will add a familiar face back to the staff as Jeff Reinebold makes his return to Mānoa as the defensive line coach. The 40-year football coaching veteran served as the director of player development for UH during the 2022 season before returning to the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats as the team’s special teams coordinator and assistant defensive backs coach, his third stint with the franchise.  

Reinebold now joins the Hawai’i program for the third time, previously serving on the 2006 and 2007 staff as the defensive line coach along with his director of player development tenure in 2022. 

Hawai’i will also make a familiar addition to the offensive side of the staff as Dan Morrison officially joins the program as the new QB coach and co-offensive coordinator. The longtime offensive mind coached for the ‘Bows for nine seasons during the June Jones era and enjoyed record-setting success as the associate head coach, co-OC and QBs coach while at SMU. 

Morrison, often referenced as a “quarterback whisperer” by those within the sport, could be found at multiple practices throughout the 2023 calendar year for Hawai’i but never was added to the official coaching staff. While at UH under Jones, Morrison helped current ‘Bows head coach Timmy Chang break NCAA records for career passing yards (17,072) and UH legend Colt Brennan set the career passing touchdowns mark (131) and coached Brennan through his record-setting season in which he tossed a record-58 touchdown passes. 

In every season with Morrison on staff, the ‘Bows finished in the top five nationally in the passing game. 

Thurman played nine seasons in the NFL from 1978-1986, eight with the Dallas Cowboys and one final season with the then-St. Louis Cardinals – who would later become the Phoenix Cardinals before finally settling on the Arizona Cardinals’ name today – and compiled 36 interceptions in his career, nine of which came during the 1981 season. 

Following his playing career, Thurman took a couple of seasons off before returning to football as a DB coach for the Phoenix Cardinals for the 1988 and 1989 seasons. He returned to his alma mater, USC, a few years later and stayed with the Trojans from 1993-2000 in the same role, helping coach future NFL standouts like Troy Polamalu, Brian Kelly and Jason Sehorn. 

After a 5-7 season in 2000, Thurman took a year off and went back to the professional ranks as a defensive assistant on Ravens’ defensive coordinator Rex Ryan’s staff in 2002, where he would stay until Ryan took the New York Jets head coaching job in January of 2009 – following the defensive guru to the Meadowlands as the defensive backs coach and helping lead the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games and the franchise’s last two playoff appearances. 

Prior to the 2013 season, Thurman was promoted to defensive coordinator for New York and helped lead a defense that allowed 24.2 points per game and finished sixth in the league in 2014 for yards allowed per game with 327.2 yards a contest. During his six seasons with the Jets, Thurman was credited for continuing the growth of NFL Pro Football Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis and multi-time Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie. 

In January 2015, Thurman was named the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, following Ryan further north. While in Buffalo, Thurman was a key contributor in the All-Pro development of Stephon Gilmore – who was a Pro Bowler under the supervision of Thurman. 

The University of Hawai’i football program is scheduled to begin spring practices on January 29. The ‘Bows are expected to participate in four practices a week, Monday through Friday (with the exception of Wednesdays).