Tucker, Golesh, Halzle Take On New University of Central Florida Football Assignments
By John Heisler, UCF // January 10, 2020
UCF KNIGHT FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – UCF running back coach and passing game coordinator Anthony Tucker, former Iowa State tight end coach and Cyclone recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh and UCF offensive quality control assistant Joey Halzle are taking on new assignments on Knight head coach Josh Heupel’s football coaching staff for 2020.
Tucker, a member of the UCF staff the past two seasons, has been promoted to co-offensive coordinator and will share that role with Golesh. Halzle will coach the Knight quarterbacks.
“Anthony has done a great job of shaping what we do offensively,” says Heupel.
“He has been excellent in terms of leading his guys and developing them on and off the field. He has invested a lot in our program, and I’m extremely excited to have him take a greater leadership role with what we are doing.
“Alex is a tremendous teacher and motivator. He has done a great job of developing his guys wherever he has been. He has a fantastic track record as an elite recruiter.
You look at what he has been able to do on the offensive side of the ball, developing the tight ends and the numbers they’ve put up–and so we’re excited about all the things he brings to what we do offensively and schematically.
“I’ve either coached Joey or coached with him 10 of the last 12 years. He has a great understanding of what it means to play the quarterback position. He’s a fantastic teacher and understands the preparation you have to put in.
“He knows what it feels like to be inside the pocket when you play the position, and I think that will be critically valuable for him inside our meeting room in dealing with Dillon Gabriel and Darriel Mack. I’m looking forward to him developing those two guys, helping them understand what defenses are doing and getting them to go play their best football.”
The UCF running game, the last two seasons under the direction of Tucker, produced the best back-to-back years in Knight history.
Tucker originally was named to the UCF football staff in December 2017 as the Knights’ running backs coach and added the title of passing game coordinator in the summer of 2019.
In 2019 the Knights’ diversified run game saw the top four runners combine for 2,488 yards, 27 TDs and an amazing average of 6.46 yards per carry.
UCF averaged 223.8 rushing yards per game last year, marking the first time in Knight history it has topped the 200-yard mark in consecutive seasons (and only the third time in UCF history that figure has been surpassed).
Otis Anderson, Adrian Killins Jr., Bentavious Thompson and Greg McCrae all contributed at least 529 yards in 2019—as Killins averaged 7.2 yards per carry and Thompson was right behind at 6.9. Killins won second-team all-conference honors for a second straight year, while Anderson (UCF’s top rusher with 726 yards) merited honorable mention status.
In his first year with the Knights in 2018, Tucker helped lead UCF to its second straight undefeated regular season and second consecutive American Athletic Conference Championship.
The Knights earned a berth in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl and rose as high as seventh in both the Associated Press top 25 and the Amway poll of coaches.
In 2019 UCF added a 10-3 record and fourth straight postseason assignment (a program record), including a Gasparilla Bowl win over Marshall.
The Knights rushing attack in 2018 set program records with 3,448 rushing yards, 265.2 rushing yards per game, 43 rushing touchdowns and 5.8 yards per carry.
UCF ranked fifth in the nation with 347 first downs, eighth in rushing offense, fifth with 522.7 yards of total offense per game and sixth in scoring with 43.2 points per game. In 2019 Tucker pushed the Knights to rank second nationally in total offense (540.5) and fifth in scoring (43.4).
Tucker helped lead one of the top running back corps in the country in 2018, as McCrae destroyed the UCF single-season record and ranked second in the nation with 8.89 yards per carry.
McCrae became UCF’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2013 and his 1,182 yards stood as the fourth-best single-season performance in program history.
Tucker came to Orlando after serving two seasons as running backs coach at Maryland. Prior to his time with the Terrapins, Tucker was a three-year member of the coaching staff at Arkansas State.
He also has coaching experience at Idaho State and was on staff at Colorado. He coached wide receivers and was passing game coordinator at Lakewood (California) High School from 2006-09.
Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Tucker played professional football. He signed as a free agent with the New York Giants in 1999 and earned a practice squad spot in 2000.
He played for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe in 2001 and signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2002 before suffering a career-ending injury.
Tucker holds a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, where he was a two-year starter at wide receiver.
He was a Western Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete and a three-time member of the Dean’s List–and was once a member of the President’s List by virtue of having a 4.0 GPA.
Golesh was in his fourth season in 2019 at Iowa State after reuniting with Cyclone head coach Matt Campbell. Golesh and Campbell were assistants on Toledo’s staff from 2009-11.
Behind Golesh’s efforts, Iowa State’s recruiting sky-rocketed, recording four of the best classes in school history. The last four Cyclone recruiting classes have all ranked in the nation’s top 50, including a pair of top-40 classes.
The 2019 Iowa State recruiting class was the best in school history according to 247Sports, ranking No. 39 nationally and compiling a program-best .8550 composite rating. Then the Cyclones’ 2020 early class signed in December ranked 43rd by 247Sports.
Golesh mentored all-conference performers at tight end in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as the Cyclones recorded a pair of 8-5 seasons and back-to-back bowl berths in 2017 and 2018.
In 2018 Iowa State broke its school record for conference victories in a season (six), tying for third in the Big 12 for the best conference finish 40 years.
In 2019 the Cyclones ended 7-6 after an appearance in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, for their third consecutive bowl invitation—with their five regular-season defeats coming by a combined 21 points.
In the season before Golesh came to Ames, Iowa State tight ends caught a combined five passes in 2015. In 2019 Cyclone tight ends caught 75 passes under his direction with that sort of production a big part of Iowa State’s success.
In 2019 sophomore tight end starter Charlie Kolar caught 51 passes for 697 yards (most yards all-time by a Cyclone tight end in a season) and seven TDs, helping him earn second-team All-America honors from Pro Football Focus and first-team all-Big 12 recognition, as well as first-team Academic All-America notice.
That tight end production helped Iowa State in 2019 rank 11th nationally and second in the Big 12 in passing offense at 311.3 yards per game.
Kolar as a freshman was a second-team all-Big 12 pick during the 2018 campaign, while tight end Chase Allen was a second-team all-Big 12 selection in 2017.
Golesh previously was the tight ends coach at Illinois in 2013 and 2015 and worked with the Illini running backs/tight ends in 2014.
He was the Illinois recruiting coordinator from 2012-14, the special teams coordinator in 2015 and worked with the specialists all four years.
Golesh was on staff at Toledo for three years from 2009-2011, serving as both tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Golesh aided the Toledo program in securing the No. 1 recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference in consecutive years.
The 2010 Rocket class was No. 1 in the league according to Rivals.com, while both Rivals and Scout.com rated the 2011 class No. 1.
Prior to going to Toledo, Golesh spent three seasons as a graduate assistant coach, two at Northern Illinois (2006-07) and one at Oklahoma State.
Golesh worked with the outside linebackers at Oklahoma State in 2008, helping the Cowboys to a 9-4 record and a berth in the Holiday Bowl.
At Northern Illinois, Golesh worked for one season with the secondary and one with the offensive line, helping the Huskies make the 2006 Poinsettia Bowl.
Golesh got his start in the coaching business as a student assistant coach while attending Ohio State as an undergraduate. He spent two and a half years aiding the Buckeyes’ defensive coaches while working with the defensive line.
During his time at Ohio State, the Buckeyes claimed the 2005 Big Ten championship and went on to earn a victory in the Fiesta Bowl over Notre Dame.
Golesh also spent one year as a defensive line coach in a first-year football program at newly opened Westerville Central (Ohio) High School in 2003.
Golesh was born in Moscow, Russia, but grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and Dublin, Ohio, where he was a three-year letter-winner in football at Dublin Scioto High School.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio State in 2006.
Halzle spent his first season in 2019 as an offensive quality control assistant for the UCF football program, working closely with the Knight quarterbacks, including freshman starter Dillon Gabriel.
The former Oklahoma quarterback previously spent the 2016 season as an offensive analyst and assistant quarterback coach at Missouri after a year in that same role at Utah State in 2015.
He was an offensive graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma from 2012-14 after helping the Sooners from 2009-11 as an offensive quality control assistant coach.
In all those roles he worked under Heupel.
Halzle won three letters as a Sooner signal-caller from 2006-08, helping Oklahoma to Big 12 Conference titles each of those years and the national championship game in 2008.
He also attended Golden West Junior College (Huntington Beach, California) after graduating from Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, California.
He graduated from Oklahoma in 2008 with a degree in human relations and went on to earn a master’s degree in administrative leadership from Oklahoma in 2014.
The hiring of Golesh and the promotion of Halzle to a full-time assistant role fill the slots of former UCF offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, now in that same role at Ole Miss, and former Knight tight end coach Jon Cooper, now an assistant coach at Arkansas.