First impressions: new football coaches Sherman, Bell, and Etheridge

Three members of Willie Fritz’s first Houston staff – Derrick Sherman, Shawn Bell, and Zac Etheridge – met with the media on Tuesday in the Carl Lewis Auditorium in the UH Athletics/Alumni Center. Fritz is expected to meet the media on Wednesday, National Signing Day.

All three mentioned that Fritz’s strengths are his clear vision for everyone in the program and building relationships.

“When you work for Coach Fritz, or you’re part of this program, you’re going to know exactly what is expected,” assistant head coach/WR coach Derrick Sherman said.

“I know what he expects, and I know how he wants it done,” Sherman said.

Sherman will lead a community engagement component of the football program, getting players into the community to serve. He has worked for Fritz at Georgia Southern and Tulane.

Bell was a fan-favorite QB at Baylor before embarking on a coaching career in Texas HS football and at Baylor. He came to Houston after his brother Brian, a former Fritz QB at Sam Houston State, accepted an analyst role on the staff.

“I just fell in love with him and his program and what he believed in,” QB coach Shawn Bell said about Fritz. “He’s been a guy I’ve always admired and had a great relationship with, and so I knew if the opportunity ever came, he’d be a guy I’d want to work for.”

Bell noted that he played in the Big 12, coached in the league for seven years, and believes UH has “a great opportunity to step in and have a big footprint in this conference.”

All three say they have experience recruiting Houston, and Fritz has assigned each of them a Houston-area territory in recruiting. “We’ve always been coming into Houston and getting guys,” Sherman said.

Zac Etheridge coached at UH under Dana Holgorsen but left to go to his alma mater under Bryan Harsin. Hugh Freeze retained him but chose Houston to return to UH after three years on the Plains. Etheridge said he would go into spring ball with an open mind but is watching game- and practice film of returning players. He will coach DBs focusing on corners, while Joshua Christian-Young will focus on the safeties.

In all of my conversations with members of Fritz’s staff, the point has been made that they are not looking for a quick fix. The plan is to recruit Houston high school players, Texas at large, and Louisiana. “Recruit, retain, develop” is the vision, not taking 25+ portal guys each year like the previous staff. There are no promises of insta-turnarounds but, to this point, no excuses, either.

“Well, I think it’s going to take time. I don’t think it’s something that’s going to happen overnight,” Bell said about rebuilding the Cougars. “The first thing this program needed was Willie Fritz.

“I know he’s won everywhere he’s been, and he’s going to win here, and we’re going to win here.”

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