Knight completes football staff for 2009 season
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NEWBERRY, S.C. - Newberry College head football coach Todd Knight is pleased to announce the completion of his coaching staff for the 2009 season. Knight, who is entering his first season as head coach for the scarlet and gray, will welcome four new additions to the staff, while two coaches will take on added responsibilities.

Todd Varn, who is entering his third season as the team's offensive coordinator, will now serve as assistant head coach to Knight. Newberry set a school record for most points per game at 35.0 in 2007, which was Varn's first season as offensive coordinator. Knight will retain his duties as defensive coordinator.

“In my opinion, Todd Varn is the best coordinator in the South Atlantic Conference,” Knight said. “As good of a football coach as he is, he is an even better man. That type of high character man who just happens to be a great football coach is what I was looking for in my assistant head coach.”

Ike Allred, who is the longest tenured member of the Newberry College athletic department's staff, enters his ninth season of coaching at Newberry. Allred will continue to coach the team's wide receivers and will take on the position of Director of Football Operations. He will also retain his position as recruiting coordinator.

“Coach Allred is the cornerstone of our football staff,” Knight said. “The move to football operations was a natural progression for him. Quite frankly, we can't do what we do without him.”

Three other coaches will continue their responsibilities for the football team. Stephen Flynn, in his seventh year of coaching at Newberry, will coach the outside linebackers, Kevin Turco, who is in his fourth season at Newberry, will coach the offensive line and Anathan Gibson, who is in his second season coaching at Newberry, will coach the defensive secondary.

“Coach Flynn probably coaches and teaches the fundamentals of the game better than anyone I've ever been around,” Knight said. “We're extremely lucky that he's decided to continue coaching with us. His experience will make us that much stronger in the fall.

“Coach Turco is the technician on our staff and in his position, it needs to be that way. His attention to detail is second to none thanks to his military training, and it carries over into how he coaches football. His Marines-style intensity makes the players and the coaches a stronger unit.

“As a former player, coach Gibson still carries that gameday enthusiasm into his coaching style. The players feed off of that, and they relate to him that much better because he is a former player. He is developing into a great young coach,” Knight added.

Five new faces will join the Newberry College football staff for the 2009 season. Zach Ellis will coach running backs, Mitch Hall will coach the defensive line and Jeremiah Jones will coach inside linebackers, while Tyler Carter joins the staff as the equipment manager and Donnie Thompson with serve as a strength and development consultant.

Hall joined the Newberry staff prior to spring practice after serving as the defensive coordinator at North Greenville University. In 2007 he coached the Crusaders' defensive line and was promoted to defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2008.

For the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Hall coached running backs and tight ends at Presbyterian College. The Blue Hose were the 2005 South Atlantic Conference champions and ranked first in the conference in scoring average.

A 2003 graduate of Western Carolina University, Hall served as a graduate assistant for the Catamounts in 2003 and 2004. He was a four-year letterman at linebacker and special teams playing for the Catamounts from 1998 to 2002.

“Coach Hall reminds me of a chemistry professor,” Knight said. “The intellectual side of him really comes out in his coaching, but he's got a switch too. At practice, you can tell when he flips it. He goes from chemistry professor to an intense old-school football coach very quickly. He does as good of a job playing those two opposing roles as well as I've seen in a coach.”

Ellis comes to Newberry after graduate assistantships at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of North Alabama.

For the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Ellis served at UAB as the assistant quarterbacks coach. In the 2006 season, he was the running backs coach at North Alabama.

A 2005 graduate of Presbyterian College, Ellis was a first team all-South Atlantic Conference selection at quarterback, SAC Offensive Player of the Year and Honorable Mention All-American as he led the Blue Hose to the NCAA Playoffs in 2005.

“Coach Ellis was able to beat us as a player at PC and a coach at UNA, so I listened to the old adage ‘If you can't beat them, join them,' and I decided to hire him,” Knight said. “He has experienced winning college football both as a player and a coach, and I know he will bring those high expectations with him to Newberry College.”

Jones comes back to Newberry after a successful playing career at linebacker for the Indians in the 1990s and experiencing success in both coaching and the private sector.

Jones made a total of 281 tackles from 1993-96, which places him eighth all-time in the Newberry College records and his 126 assisted tackles rank ninth in NC history.

After graduating from Newberry in 1998, Jones was a graduate assistant at Presbyterian College for the 1999, 2000 and 2001 seasons. In 1999, he assisted with the linebackers and special teams and then worked with the defensive line and special teams in 2000 and 2001.

For the 2002 season, Jones was the linebackers and strength and conditioning coach at Charleston Southern University. He returned to Presbyterian for the 2003 and 2004 season, when he served as linebackers coach, recruiting coordinator and video coordinator. He has been in the private sector since 2005.

“I can't think of a better person to be my first official hire than Jeremiah Jones,” Knight said. “He brings so many intangibles to our team. He played linebacker, he played here at Newberry College and he's a South Carolina guy. Bringing him back home to Newberry will prove to be a winning combination for our program.”

Carter will serve as equipment manager for the 2009 season. A May 2009 graduate of Newberry College, Carter served as a student assistant manager for the 2005 through 2008 seasons.

“Tyler did a great job as a student manager and I'm happy we can keep him here at Newberry,” Knight said. “He's an extremely dependable, loyal, hard-working young man and he will prove to be a strong asset for our program.”

Thompson played collegiate football at Shepherd University in West Virginia and played professionally for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as six seasons in the Arena Football League. In November 2008, he set the world record total weight in powerlifting with a 2,905 lbs. total (1,235 squat, 910 bench and 760 deadlift). He is currently training to break the 3,000 lbs. total before retiring from powerlifting.

“Donnie Thompson is a proven commodity,” Knight said. “We will be the only college in the country who can legitimately say their strength coach is the strongest man in the world. We hope his work ethic and motivation will transfer over to the players.”

The staff will continue its preparations for the much anticipated 2009 season. “Knight Time” will officially begin at 7 p.m. August 29 in Valdosta, Ga., as the scarlet and gray take on the Blazers of Valdosta State University.