Derham Cato is familiar with both UW’s football program and its next offensive coordinator.
Perhaps that’s why Cato — who has served for the last four seasons as an offensive analyst at Washington — has been promoted to tight ends coach, head coach Jimmy Lake announced Saturday.
“Derham has worked his way up to this position,” Lake said in a statement. “He’s a very smart coach and he’s a grinder. He’s knowledgeable in the passing and run games, and he’s been an offensive coordinator and coached tight ends.”
Cato agreed to a two-year deal with an annual salary of $225,000, according to the memorandum of understanding provided to The Seattle Times by UW on Saturday.
Prior to arriving at Washington in February 2016, Cato served as Davidson’s offensive coordinator in 2015 and offensive line coach and tight ends coach in 2014. He was a graduate assistant at Vanderbilt from 2011 to 2013, working alongside new UW offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach John Donovan.
Now, 24 hours after Donovan’s hire was made public, Cato’s promotion finalized Lake’s first staff as UW’s head coach.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to take the next step in my career,” Cato said in a statement. “I’m very grateful to Coach Lake and I can’t wait to get going.”
During Cato’s four seasons as an offensive analyst on Montlake, the Huskies won a pair of Pac-12 titles (2016 and 2018). That included a school-record 77 touchdowns and 585 points (41.3 per game) in 2016, when Washington advanced to the College Football Playoff. He was on staff for three consecutive 10-win seasons and New Year’s Six bowl appearances as well.
Vanderbilt went 24-15 over during Cato’s three years in Nashville, won nine games each in 2012 and 2013, and finished in the AP top 25 each of those years. The Commodores posted three of the top-four total yardage marks in school history in the process, including a school-record 4,936 yards in 2012. That team averaged 30.1 points per game, also a school record.
UW’s previous tight ends coach, Jordan Paopao, was not retained after nine seasons on Montlake (and the last seven as Washington’s tight ends coach). Paopao — whose guaranteed salary last season was $300,000 — was subsequently hired this week to be the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at UNLV.
A three-year starter at defensive tackle for Dartmouth, Cato graduated with a bachelor’s degree in government in 2005. He played professionally in the Arena Football League, NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League, while also working for four years at his high school alma mater — Charlotte (N.C.) Country Day School — as a strength and conditioning coach, special teams coordinator, defensive line coach and assistant offensive line coach. His college coaching career began at his alma mater, where he tutored the Dartmouth tight ends in 2010.
But what will Washington’s tight ends room look like in 2020? The Huskies are currently slated to have six scholarship tight ends next fall — senior Jacob Kizer, juniors Cade Otton and Corey Luciano, sophomore Devin Culp and true freshmen Mark Redman and Mason West. Jack Yary — a four-star tight end out of Murrieta, Calif. — could add to that haul as well, should he sign with Washington in February.
Of course, UW will be missing arguably its most dynamic playmaker. Junior tight end Hunter Bryant — who recorded a team-high 825 receiving yards, as well as 52 catches, 15.9 yards per reception and three touchdowns in 12 games last season — has declared for the 2020 NFL draft. Otton (32 catches, 344 yards, two TDs) and walk-on Jack Westover (three catches, 9 yards, one TD) are the only other tight ends who registered a reception last season.
Still, the tight end figures to play a major role in the “aggressive, pro-style offense” that Lake and Donovan intend to implement this offseason.
In finalizing his staff on Saturday, Lake also announced a pair of small title changes. Outside linebackers coach Pete Kwiatkowski has been elevated once again from co-defensive coordinator to defensive coordinator, while defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe has added the co-defensive coordinator title.
Kwiatkowski, 54, was the defensive coordinator at Boise State from 2010 to 2013 and Washington from 2014 to 2017, before voluntarily passing play-calling duties to Lake prior to the 2018 season. The 44-year-old Malloe — an outside linebacker and safety at UW from 1993 to 1996 — returned to the program as its defensive line coach in 2016.
Washington 2020 coaching staff
Jimmy Lake, head coach
Pete Kwiatkowski, defensive coordinator, outside linebackers coach
Ikaika Malloe, co-defensive coordinator, defensive line coach
Bob Gregory, special teams coordinator, linebackers coach
Will Harris, defensive backs coach
Terrence Brown, assistant defensive backs coach
John Donovan, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach
Scott Huff, offensive line coach
Keith Bhonapha, running backs coach
Junior Adams, wide receivers coach
Derham Cato, tight ends coach