The New England Patriots in 2012 hired a young coach off Alabama’s staff as a special teams assistant. On Friday, they did the same.

The former was Joe Judge, who went on to spend eight seasons in New England before taking over as head coach of the New York Giants last month. The latter is Joe Houston, who will help to fill the Judge void in 2020.

Houston, a former collegiate kicker at USC, will join the Patriots’ coaching staff as an assistant special teams coordinator, according to a report from Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.

Houston worked under longtime Bill Belichick buddy Nick Saban at Alabama this past season, serving as a special teams analyst for the Crimson Tide. Before that, he spent four seasons at Iowa State (including one as special teams coordinator), one at Toledo and three at El Camino College.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell in 2018 called Houston “maybe the best kicking coach in the country.” He could be tasked with developing a young Patriots kicker this season, as incumbent Stephen Gostkowski is 36 and coming off season-ending hip surgery.

Houston also played in the Arena Football League in 2012 and in the Indoor Football League in 2013 and 2014. (In an odd coincidence, he and trick-shot kicker/ex-Patriots practice squadder Josh Gable both kicked for the IFL’s Nebraska Danger, though they didn’t overlap.)

With Houston now aboard, the Patriots likely will promote Cameron Achord, their special teams assistant for the last two seasons, to special teams coordinator, though no such promotion has been definitively reported. Judge served in that role from 2015 to 2019 and also coached Patriots wide receivers this past season.

Houston is the second Alabama assistant to make the move to New England this offseason. Vinnie Sunseri, a former Patriots safety, was a graduate assistant with the Tide for one season before landing an unspecified support role on Belichick’s staff last month.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images