Nobody seems surprised by Brent Dearmon’s sudden rise up the coaching ladder.
Dearmon was recently promoted to KU’s offensive coordinator following a 2-4 start to the season, and was formally introduced to the media Thursday afternoon. Dearmon, who has had stints as a high school coach and at three levels of collegiate football, is now an OC at a Power Five program just 11 years after his coaching career began.
And Kerry Stevenson, the head coach who gave Dearmon his first shot, said he always knew it was a matter of time before this day came.
“In this business, I know a superstar when I see one,” said Stevenson, who is now the director of player development at Tennessee. “He doesn’t have any patience. He’s innovative and he’s not set in his ways. Those people that will do that have a chance to be very successful, so he’s going to do a great job.”
In 2008, around the time Dearmon’s playing career at the arena level was coming to a close, Stevenson gave him his first full-time coaching gig: an OC role at Vigor High School in Prichard, Ala.
Dearmon was a Vigor alumnus, and Stevenson had coached him during his junior campaign at the school. Even back then, Stephenson said he could tell Dearmon was a student of the game.
“He was just different,” Stevenson said. “He never has a closed mind. He was always trying to figure out a way to get better.”
Dearmon was constantly taking notes, Stevenson said, and his football IQ made up for the fact he wasn’t always the most athletic player on the field. So Stevenson knew exactly who to bring in when he needed an OC at Vigor.
Dearmon was there between 2008 and 2011, helping his former high school team win a state title in 2008 with a 15-0 record. The Wolves scored 577 points that year, which is still the highest number of total points in a single season in program history.
When Stevenson eventually made the step up to college football, he ended up opening a door for Dearmon as well. Stevenson was offered positions at both Auburn and Alabama, and felt he couldn't pass up the Alabama job. But he recommended Dearmon to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn for the role instead.
That job — an analyst position — was a pivotal step in his journey, Dearmon said.
“I think the Lord has brought me down a path for a reason,” Dearmon said. “I know God has prepared me through high school, through my time at Auburn, to Division II, to a head coach at NAIA, to right now. He’s prepared me through all those times in life.”
Dearmon got his first chance to run a college offense when he joined the Arkansas Tech staff as an offensive coordinator. The Wonder Boys produced the biggest offensive turnaround in college football in his first season, which included a 360% increase in rushing yards from the previous campaign.
In each of his three seasons at Arkansas Tech between 2014 and 2017, Dearmon had a quarterback make the all-conference team. Quarterback Ty Reasnor directed an offense that led the Great American Conference with an average of 40 points per game in 2017.
“He’s like nothing that I have played for before in terms of how he schemed up defenses,” Reasnor said. “Dearmon is the best football coach that I have ever played for.”
Dearmon continued his success during his one-year head coaching stint at his alma mater, Bethel University, in 2018, where he produced the nation’s highest-scoring offense at any level. In his lone season there, Dearmon guided the team to its best season in school history.
Bethel went 10-0 in the regular season, averaging 540.3 yards and 55.0 points per game. Quarterback Sam Castronova set the single-season school record with 28 touchdowns passes and 2,453 passing yards — records that were previously held by Dearmon himself.
“I felt like I was playing the best football of my life,” Castronova said. “Coach Dearmon is an offensive guru. He’s a great coach and a great guy, too. I don’t think (Kansas) could have picked anyone better for the job.”
It would have been easy for Dearmon to stay put at his alma mater. He enjoyed his routine of having lunch with Bethel’s president every Tuesday. He remains the school’s career record-holder in passing yards (7,045) and touchdowns (77), and could have accomplished even more as a head coach.
But Dearmon, who has a math degree like his father and Stevenson, has always been willing to take a chance or try something different.
When Les Miles became the head coach at Kansas this past offseason, it wasn’t long before he added Chip Lindsey as an offensive coordinator. Lindsey and Dearmon were once on the same staff at Auburn, which led to a reunion in Lawrence when Dearmon was brought on as an offensive consultant.
“I took a leap of faith leaving my alma mater,” Dearmon said. “I knew in order to get a position like this, I was going to have to do that. I came here with the full intention of learning everything that I could. I’m grateful for the opportunity to come here with a future Hall of Fame coach in Coach Miles.”
Only time will tell if Dearmon can orchestrate another offensive turnaround in such a short amount of time.
But, in reality, the Jayhawks can only go up from here. KU’s offense ranks 101st in the nation with an average of 22.8 points per game and 102nd in the country with an average 354.5 yards per contest.
Given what Dearmon has been able to do at every place he’s ever been, though, it is not hard to imagine Kansas showing improvement on offense in the second half of the regular season. In fact, those familiar with him fully expect it.
“He’s going to find a way to get it done with whatever he has,” Stevenson said. “He’s a winner. He’s just a superstar in this football business."