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UAB Head Coach Trent Dilfer convinced one of the best offensive minds in college football to join his staff.
“This guy is truly a unicorn.”
That was how UAB head coach Trent Dilfer described his offensive coordinator Alex Mortensen at AAC Media Days.
Mortensen? Isn’t that?
Alex is the son of Chris Mortensen, the legendary sports journalist well-known for his work at ESPN covering the NFL.
At 37 years old, his son Alex is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football.
But no one’s ever heard of him.
During his media day press conference, I asked Coach Dilfer about Mortensen.
“Alex is a guy a lot of people have tried to hire away from Nick [Saban] for years,” Dilfer said, “I had a portfolio, probably 150 deep, of coaches that I’ve been vetting over the years. My two favorite offensive guys happen to be in this conference [AAC]. One I hired, Alex Mortensen. And the other Tom [Herman] hired, Charlie Frye.”
Mortensen played quarterback for the Arkansas Razorbacks before transferring to Samford. And after a brief stint with the Tennessee Titans, he found himself in coaching.
In 2014, Nick Saban hired him as a graduate assistant. He remained on Alabama’s staff for nearly a decade.
Mortensen saw it all during his time with the Crimson Tide.
Both schematically and coaching personalities.
From the West Coast offense to the Run and Shoot. From Lane Kiffin to Bill O’Brien.
Four of the five offensive coordinators Mortensen assisted are current Power 5 or NFL head coaches. The fifth, Bill O’Brien, has been a head coach at each of those levels.
Mortensen’s experience understudying diverse coaches and schemes bodes well for working with Dilfer, especially since the Blazer head coach is not attached to a particular offensive system.
“I’m not a system guy; I don’t believe in systems,” Dilfer said, “But from an X-O standpoint, we have the same belief system, so we work very well together. He’s done an incredible job.”
Mortensen was an integral part of Alabama’s offensive transformation that began when current Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin was offensive coordinator.
While Mortensen was a graduate assistant, the Tide began transitioning from a run-oriented pro-style attack to a spread-heavy offense that put more emphasis on the passing game.
Nine years and three national championships later, Mortensen became one of the hottest names among college football coaches.
“I’m not gonna have him long. That’s just the fact of the matter,” Dilfer concluded, “He’s gonna be one of the super, super superstars in college football rather quickly, but I’m sure glad I have him now.”
Mortensen has flown under the radar his whole career, so the public eye doesn’t know how good he is as a coach.
Trent Dilfer knows.
Nick Saban knows.
And it’s only a matter of time before the college football world knows too.
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