Jerod Mayo Adds Two of His Former Patriots Teammates to Coaching Staff

Jan 17, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo addresses media at a
Jan 17, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo addresses media at a / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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Jerod Mayo, a former New England Patriot himself, has tabbed two former Patriots as assistant coaches on his staff. On Friday, several reports indicated that former linebacker and three-time Super Bowl champion Dont'a Hightower would be returning to New England in a coaching capacity. On Sunday night during the Super Bowl, it was reported former wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, who was once mercilessly released the night before Super Bowl XLVI, would also be joining Mayo's staff as an assistant wide receivers coach.

Hightower has been a fan favorite in New England, suiting up for the Patriots from 2012-2021. Hightower's outstanding play earned him a spot on both New England's All-2010s Team and All-Dynasty Team. His tackle of Marshawn Lynch at the one yard line in Super Bowl XLIX and his strip sack of Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI live forever in Patriots' lore.

Hightower does not have any formal coaching experience, but per Jeff Howe of The Athletic, he was "born to be a coach". Hightower was a captain under two of the most legendary coaches in football history: Nick Saban at Alabama and Bill Belichick in New England.

Mayo clearly felt the same way about Hightower's potential as a coach, echoing Howe's sentiment when he spoke on his former fellow linebacker last spring and highlighted the Alabama product's football IQ.

"High and I have always had a great relationship. I was older. He was like a young pup, but he was very smart. He was very athletic. I got a chance to play beside him. I got a chance to coach him. There aren't many people like Hightower in terms of just his smarts. I think that gets overlooked a lot with High. High is a very smart football player."

Jerod Mayo via Mike Dussault

Per Albert Breer, the Patriots could still hire an outside linebackers coach with the departure of Steve Belichick to the University of Washington. Belichick had served as New England's outside linebackers coach since 2020. This move would keep Hightower's primary focus on the inside linebackers.

On Sunday night during the Super Bowl, it was then reported that former wide receiver Tiquan Underwood would be joining the Patriots as an assistant receivers coach.

Underwood spent the 2011 season as a member of the Patriots and a teammate of Jerod Mayo. He is perhaps best known in New England for his release the night before the a Super Bowl XLVI loss to the New York Giants.

Unlike Hightower, Underwood does have formal coaching experience and has spent a "ton of time around the Patriots over the years at training camp".

The former Rutgers captain began his coaching career in 2018 after five seasons in the NFL and four seasons in the Canadian Football League. He first served as the wide receivers coach at Lafayette before joining the Miami Dolphins in 2019 as an offensive quality control coach. He then returned to his alma mater for two seasons as the Scarlet Knights' receivers coach before joining the University of Pittsburgh as their wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator for the last two seasons.

It has not been confirmed that receivers coach Troy Brown will be returning to the team in 2024, but the working assumption for now is that Underwood will be working under Brown (yet another ex-Patriot).

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