Harper Announces Staff Changes
Jan. 16, 2007
NACOGDOCHES - Since being named as the university's 18th head football coach, J.C. Harper has been adamant about maintaining the chemistry between the SFA coaching staff and its players. Harper has named Darren Drago defensive coordinator and Chris Truax as offensive line coach.
"I felt keeping the chemistry and continuity within the staff was vital for our program to continue where we left off last season," said Harper. "I'm truly excited about our staff. I believe we have one of the best coaching staffs in the conference, if not the country."
Drago coached one of the youngest defensive lines in the nation last season, and boasted some pretty impressive numbers. Midway through the 2006 season, the 'Jacks defensive line boasted three true freshmen in the starting lineup. The two-deep consisted five true freshmen and a sophomore. Despite its youth, the line was a major reason for the defense's improvement in 2006. The 'Jacks led the SLC in scoring defense, rush defense and pass defense. Ends Timothy Knicky and Daimyeon Hoskin concluded the season earning honorable mention all-conference honors. Along with his responsibilities as defensive coordinator, Drago will continue to coach the 'Jacks' defensive line.
"Darren's promotion is well deserved," said Harper. "He came in and did a wonderful job with our defensive line. We both share the same philosophy on defense. He will do a great job running the defensive side of the ball."
Truax will begin coaching the offensive line, after working with the SFA running backs in 2006. In only one season, Truax transformed junior Louie Runnels into one of the premier backs in the league. He earned first-team All-SLC honors under Truax's guidance. Truax was also faced with the responsibility of replacing preseason first-team all-conference fullback Michael Motte, who was lost during the offseason due to an injury. Truax replaced him with redshirt freshman Leonard Lynce, and Lynce rewarded the decision by earning second-team All-SLC honors during his first season on the field.
Truax came to Nacogdoches after a four-year stint at Northwestern State, serving as associate head coach and co-offensive coordinator. During his time in Natchitoches, Truax helped produce one of the more potent offenses in the SLC. In 2004, the Demons finished second in the league averaging more than 33 points per game, while racking up almost 410 yards of total offense per contest. Truax as left a paper trail of success during his coaching career. He helped coach McNeese State to two NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearance, including the 1997 Division I-AA National Championship game, and won two SLC titles.
"Chris has coached the offensive line at McNeese State and Northwestern State," said Harper. "He has been a part of SLC Championship teams, and has coached in the NCAA Division I-AA Championship game. Success has followed Chris everywhere he has coached. I've coached against him, and I've had the privilege of coaching along side him. I sure am glad that he is on our team."
Harper has retained Arlington Nunn as assistant head coach and he will continue to work with the Lumberjack receivers. Under Nunn's tutelage the SFA receivers have become a major factor in the SLC. After a breakthrough rookie season, sophomore Dominique Edison earned honorable mention all-conference honors after finishing second in the conference in receiving yards. Not to be outdone by the underclassmen, junior Tyrell Williams recorded his second impressive season finishing third in the league in receptions per game.
Gerald Broussard begins his third season as the 'Jacks' offensive coordinator, but will work with tight ends and H-backs in 2007. Broussard has spent the previous two seasons developing a youthful offensive line. Despite its youth, the line was able to produce a first-team all-conference running back, while protecting first-team all-league quarterback Danny Southall.
Matt Graves begins his third season working with the Lumberjack secondary. Under Graves direction, the secondary has shown marked improvement. After finishing seventh in the league in 2005, SFA was fourth in pass defense in 2006. Senior safety Keldrick Holman recorded his two best seasons under Graves' direction earning consecutive All-American honors and first-team All-SLC recognition.
Eric Robinson has assisted Graves the past two seasons in the Lumberjack secondary, but will switch to coach linebackers in 2007. During his time on staff, Robinson has helped coach five total all-conference selections, two All-Americans and three players that have been invited to play in the Magnolia Grid Iron Classic. Robinson earned all-conference honors as a linebacker during his playing career at SFA.
Aaron De LaTorre returns after assisting Drago on the defensive line last season. A former All-SLC selection at SFA, and member of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys, De LaTorre's experience was invaluable to the 'Jacks' young defensive front. Despite the youth, De LaTorre helped produce two honorable mention all-conference selections. He will coach the running back position in 2007. After coaching the Lumberjack tight ends in 2006, B.J. McNutt will return to assist Coach Drago with the defensive line in 2007. McNutt was an assistant defensive line coach during the 2005 season, before taking over the tight ends. McNutt was responsible for helping senior Andrew Fleck make the conversion from defensive line to tight end during his final season. Fleck finished the year earning honorable mention all-conference honors.
The Lumberjacks coaching realignment comes only a day after Harper announced the hiring of former Tarleton State offensive coordinator Todd Schonhar. A 15-year veteran in the collegiate coaching ranks, Schonhar will serve as the 'Jacks quarterback coach.