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Rich Rodriguez completes coaching staff by promoting grad assistant Matt Caponi

Matt Caponi

Matt Caponi

Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez stayed in-house to replace departed safeties coach Tony Gibson.

Matt Caponi, who served as a defense graduate assistant last season, has been elevated to safeties coach, the school announced Friday morning.

Gibson left in January to join West Virginia.

Caponi joined the Arizona staff in January 2012 after spending one season as a defensive grad assistant under Todd Graham at Pittsburgh. Before that, Caponi was a defensive coordinator at Division III Washington & Jefferson College from 2008 to 2010.

He also coached the secondary at Washington & Jefferson from 2006 to 2009, and the linebackers in 2010.

Caponi was a free safety for Division III power Mount Union, which went 55-1 during his career from 2000 to 2003, winning three national titles. He began his coaching career there as a student assistant in 2004, becoming the school’s JV coordinator and linebackers coach a year later.

That era of Mount Union football also produced Toledo coach Matt Campbell, who graduated in 2002 and was the program’s offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Mount Union in 2005 and 2006. Campbell, at 33, was the youngest head coach at the FBS level last season, taking Arizona to overtime before losing the season-opener in Tucson.

The Wildcats have three new coaches for the 2013 season, including two promoted from within who have not been full-time coaches at the FBS level.

Charlie Ragle, the former head coach at Scottsdale Chaparral High School who was Arizona’s assistant director of football operations last season, is the new tight ends coach, replacing Spencer Leftwich. Ragle also will coach special teams.

Rodriguez brought in veteran Pac-12 assistant Jim Michalczik to replace Robert Anae as offensive coordinator.

Arizona also announced the hiring of Andrew Warsaw as an operations assistant. He was the director of operations at Fordham last season and held similar roles at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Penn and Villanova.

He is a 2009 graduate of West Virginia, where he got to know Rodriguez as a student manager for four seasons.

Arizona’s spring practice begins March 2.

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