FAU Football: Willie Taggart announces changes in coaching staff

“I’m looking forward to this group coming together and helping me lead this program into spring ball and the upcoming season,” head coach Willie Taggart said when announcing the changes in his coaching staff.


Willie Taggart (pictured blue in middle) made changes in his coaching staff for the 2021 season. Photo by Alex Liscio.

Richard Pereira, Sports Editor

FAU football head coach Willie Taggart has announced changes in his coaching staff for the 2021 season, including the introduction of Michael Johnson. 

Johnson, who has been coaching for 23 years, will now be the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the team. Not only will he be reuniting with Taggart for the first time since 2018, when they were in Oregon, he will also be coaching his son, Michael Johnson Jr., who came to the program after transferring from Penn State.

Coaching in the National Football League (NFL) is something Johnson is familiar with. He was the quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach, and offensive coordinator for the then-San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and the San Francisco 49ers from 2000 to 2010.

Before joining FAU, Johnson was the wide receivers coach for Mississippi State in 2019. He helped them finish with a 6-7 record that season.

Raymond Woodie, who coached for 23 years like Johnson, has been promoted to associate head coach after serving as the outside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator last season. While remaining as the outside linebackers coach, he’ll also be taking the role of special teams coordinator.

As the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach last season, Drew Mehringer will now assume duties as the tight ends coach while remaining co-offensive coordinator.

Joey Thomas, who played in the NFL from 2004 to 2010 as a cornerback for the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, and the Miami Dolphins, and was an analyst for FAU in 2020, will replace Mehringer as the wide receivers coach.

Taggart’s first season with FAU ended with a 5-4 record, including a perfect 4-0 record at home. Despite that, the offense struggled that season, ranking 115th out of 127 teams, as it resulted in FAU losing their first bowl game 25-10 against the Memphis Tigers in the Montgomery Bowl.

In a press release from FAU Athletics, Taggart said he’s “excited” about the changes to the staff.

“Moving forward, we’ll have a talented mix of experienced veterans and younger coaches, all of whom I have had the opportunity to work with previously,” Taggart said. “I’m looking forward to this group coming together and helping me lead this program into spring ball and the upcoming season.”

The Owls are expected to start their 2021 season in Gainesville against the Florida Gators on Sept. 4.

Richard Pereira is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.