It’s natural for former players to become coaches at positions in which they played. That just makes the most sense, but every once in awhile, someone breaks the mold.

Former two-time All-ACC safety and current Michigan coach Josh Gattis is one of those exceptions that breaks the norm. Despite playing safety at Wake Forest, he is in his first season as offensive coordinator at Michigan.

After ending his NFL playing career in 2008, Gattis became a graduate assistant at North Carolina in 2010. From that point, he’s actually never coached the position, or even the side of the ball, in which he played. Gattis became the Western Michigan wide receivers coach in 2011 and then worked his way up to his first co-offensive coordinator position for Alabama in 2018.

“My first dream was to be a very successful defensive coordinator,” said Gattis according to “But my first job opportunity came on the offensive side of the ball at North Carolina. I told myself, ‘I’ll learn offensive schemes. I’ll learn protections. I’ll learn the run game, and be a better defensive coordinator.’

“Little did I know I was going to fall in love with the offensive side of the ball. My advantage there early in my coaching career was understanding defense. That’s where I was able to bring the most immediate value. I told my receivers, ‘Look at the technique this defensive back is playing, and how do you beat that technique?’ That led to a lot of early success while I still was going through the growing process (on offense).”

Prior to heading to Tuscaloosa, Gattis coached wide receivers at Penn State under then offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who’s moved on to become the head coach at Mississippi State. Gattis credits Moorhead as a big influence, but he’s also received tutelage from Nick Saban, James Franklin and now Jim Harbaugh.

As Gattis continues to climb the coaching ranks, he becomes a more incredible story.

Gattis will have to get Michigan’s offense in order soon, though, as the Wolverines have struggled a bit out of the gate this year. Through two weeks, Michigan is ninth in total offense and 12th in scoring in the Big Ten.