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RICHMOND, Ky. – New Eastern Kentucky University football head coach Walt Wells announced his coaching staff for the 2020 season.
Former Colonel Jake Johnson will serve as the defensive coordinator. Derek Day joins the staff to coach inside linebackers and serve as the co-special teams coordinator. Jeremy Hawkins comes to EKU to coach the defensive line. Shannon Morrison remains on the staff and will coach the defensive backs.
On the offensive side of the ball, Andy Richman is the new offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Caleb Cox will coach wide receivers. Eric Losey is the new offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Troy Rothenbuhler will stay on the staff as the quarterbacks coach after working with the tight ends last season.
John Barnett (Director of Football Operations), Ryan Gravel (Director of Player Personnel) and Austin Crowe (Equipment Coordinator) will remain part of the staff as well.
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Johnson previously spent 12 seasons (2004-15) on the Colonel coaching staff, including the final 11 as the defensive line coach.
Johnson worked on the staff at Murray State University from 2016 to 2019. After spending his first two seasons with the Racers as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, Johnson served as the defensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019 while still also coaching the linebacker position group.
Under his guidance as defensive coordinator, Murray State improved its scoring and rushing defense each season. Linebacker Quincy Williams was selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the highest draft pick in MSU history. In addition, defensive back Marquez Sanford signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019.
Johnson recruited multiple all-conference players. In 2018 he successfully recruited the No. 1 and No. 5 ranked players in the Ohio Valley Conference. As the special teams coordinator, Johnson tutored kicker Connor Mitchell who led the nation in field goals per game (1.82) and set a school record with six field goals in a game during the 2016 season.
“I’m excited to have Jake back in Richmond and at EKU,” Wells said. “It’s a place that is so dear to his heart, and it’s great to have a former Colonel leading our defense. Jake did a great job at Murray State, as the special teams coordinator and the defensive coordinator, developing Quincy Williams and Marquez Sanford into NFL players. We’re fortunate to have him back and look forward to having his leadership on defense.”
In his first stint at Eastern Kentucky, Johnson helped the Colonels win OVC Championships in 2007, 2008 and 2011 and make four FCS playoff appearances. He coached 17 defensive linemen who earned All-Ohio Valley Conference honors and five who picked up All-America recognition. In 2015, Noah Spence and Bryce Krebs were named to the All-OVC team. Spence was also chosen as the OVC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, earned All-America honors and was drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. EKU ranked first or second in the OVC in rushing defense in each of his final four seasons as defensive line coach.
After graduating from Eastern in 2002 with a bachelor’s of science degree in geography, with an emphasis in global studies, Johnson spent a year at Wingate University as an assistant coach. His duties there included serving as the Bulldogs’ full-time tight ends coach and assistant offensive line coach, while also aiding in player recruitment and game-day planning. Johnson then returned to Eastern Kentucky in 2004 as a graduate assistant coach.
A three-year starting offensive lineman during his collegiate career, Johnson garnered All-Ohio Valley Conference accolades at center in 2001. That same year, Johnson served as the Colonels’ offensive team captain and was named the squad’s offensive lineman of the year.
Richman was the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at New Mexico State University from 2015 through the 2019 season. He coached a Sunbelt Conference Newcomer of the Year and an Associated Press All-America running back. In 2017, the Aggies’ offense ranked sixth in the nation in passing offense while winning seven games and earning a victory in the Arizona Bowl. It was NMSU’s first bowl appearance since 1960.
From 2011 through the 2014 season, Richman served on the staff at Valdosta State University. He was the offensive line coach and run game coordinator during the 2012 season and the offensive coordinator in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Richman tutored six first team all-conference linemen, four All-America offensive linemen selections and a fourth round NFL Draft pick. VSU had two 1,000-yard rushers in 2012 on its way to winning the Division II National Championship. He helped the Blazers reach the final eight in 2014 playoffs.
Richman was an offensive line quality control assistant for the Wisconsin Badgers from 2008 to 2010. He helped Wisconsin reach three bowl games including the 2011 Rose Bowl after winning the Big Ten Championship. Richman was an offensive line assistant, working primarily with the centers and guards, at Louisiana during the 2007 season.
Richman worked with Wells at Western Kentucky University during the 2006 season, serving as the tight ends coach. He also coached the defensive line at Denison University (2005), and running backs and tight ends at Reedley College (2004).
During the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Richman was graduate student assistant at Eastern Kentucky, working with the tight ends in 2002 and the defensive line in 2003. He was the offensive line coach at his alma mater, Wisconsin-Stevens Point, in 2001.
“It’s great to have Andy back to lead our offense here at EKU,” said Wells. “He has done a great job since he left at all his stops, including Wisconsin, at Valdosta State where he called the plays for a national championship team, and helping New Mexico State to their first bowl game in a long time as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach. I’ve known Andy for a long time. He’s a great coach and will do great things with our offense.”
Richman has successfully recruited Dallas and West Texas, southern Georgia, Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and the California and Arizona junior colleges.
Cox served as an offensive assistant at the University of Tennessee from 2016-19. In 2015, Cox was an offensive assistant at EKU. He worked as the wide receivers coach at Kentucky Christian University in 2013 and 2014.
“I got to know Caleb when I was here in 2015,” said Wells. “Then I had the opportunity to work with him at Tennessee. He’s been around great wide receiver coaches including Zach Azzanni who is with the Denver Broncos now and Tee Martin who’s at UT. Caleb is a great young coach and will also do a great job in recruiting.”
Cox helped Tennessee reach the Music City Bowl in 2016 and the Tax Slayer Bowl in 2019. He has coached three players who were either drafted or received invitations to an NFL camp, including former Colonel offensive lineman Justin Adekoya.
Cox has extensive recruiting experience in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Day previously worked on the staffs at Butler, Tennessee, Iowa State and Western Kentucky.
For the past three seasons (2017-19), Day served as the linebacker coach, co-special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Butler. He coached two all-conference linebackers and an all-league kicker.
As a defensive quality control assistant working with linebackers at Tennessee in 2015 and 2016, Day helped the Volunteers reach the 2015 Outback Bowl and the 2016 Music City Bowl. He coached All-Southeastern Conference linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin who was a fourth round NFL Draft pick, and all-freshman team linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr.
“I got to know Derek when I was at Western Kentucky and he’s gone on to have success coaching both defense and special teams,” Wells said. “I was also with him at Tennessee when he worked with the linebackers. He had the opportunity to work with Paul Rhoads, who I respect a lot, at Iowa State. Derek’s a good young coach and it’s good to have him and his family here.”
In 2012 and 2013, Day was a defensive graduate assistant linebackers coach at Iowa State. He helped the Cyclones reach the 2012 Liberty Bowl. He worked with two All-Big 12 and fifth round NFL Draft picks – linebackers AJ Klein (2013) and Jeremiah George (2014).
At Western Kentucky, Day served as a defensive graduate assistant with the defensive line and linebackers.
Hawkins previously worked on the staffs at Mercer, LSU and Alabama-Birmingham.
In 2019, Hawkins was the defensive line coach at Mercer. He also coached field goal block and the scout team offense. Hawkins was responsible for recruiting Georgia and Alabama.
“I had several people reach out to me about Jeremy and the job he did at UAB, LSU and Mercer,” said Wells. “He comes highly recommended from all those programs. He does a great job of developing young talent and getting involved as a positive role model in their lives. Jeremy has a strong reputation as a recruiter as well.”
As the assistant director of player personnel at LSU during the 2018 season, Hawkins helped the Tigers to a 10-3 record and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. His responsibilities included all aspects of recruiting, coordinating recruiting areas for all coaches, and discovery and evaluation of all prospects.
Hawkins served as the assistant defensive line coach and director of player personnel at Alabama-Birmingham during the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons. In his final season, the Blazers went 8-5 and earned a spot in the Bahamas Bowl. In addition to assisting with the defensive line, Hawkins coached the punt gunners, the scout team offense and recruited northeast Florida, Georgia high schools and junior colleges in Mississippi, Arizona and Georgia.
During the 2014 season, Hawkins was the head coach and defensive coordinator at Middle Georgia State College. In 2012 and 2013, he was the defensive line coach at Dublin High School. His college coaching career began as the running backs and tight ends coach at the University of Central Oklahoma during the 2011 season.
Losey has served as the offensive line coach at Southern Mississippi, East Tennessee and Alcorn State.
Losey spent the 2019 season as a strength and conditioning intern at the University of South Carolina. He worked specifically with the Gamecock offensive line, a unit that helped USC rank sixth in the Southeastern Conference in passing yards per game.
During the 2017 and 2018 seasons Losey was the offensive line coach at Southern Miss. He helped the Golden Eagles to an 8-5 record and a trip to the Independence Bowl in 2017. That season, USM led Conference USA and was 11th in the country in fewest sacks allowed. In addition, the Golden Eagles ranked third in the conference in total offense, and fourth in passing, rushing and scoring. In 2018, Southern Miss led C-USA in completion percentage (third in NCAA), was third in red-zone offense and fourth in passing.
Under Losey’s tutelage, Trace Clopton earned All-America honors and a spot on the all-conference freshman team in 2018. Devin Farrior earned second team all-conference honors in 2017. Drake Dorbeck received honorable mention for the all-conference team in 2017. Arvin Fletcher picked up honorable mention all-conference recognition in 2017 and 2018, and was also chosen to the all-conference freshman team (2017).
Losey was the offensive line coach at East Tennessee from 2014 to 2016 and at Alcorn State during the 2013 season. He coached Ben Blackmon to a spot on the 2016 all-conference freshman team in 2016 at ETSU. Isaac Sampson was a first team All-American and all-conference pick in 2013 at Alcorn State. Jon Scott and Detonio Dade were second team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference picks. Losey helped ASU rank first in the conference in sacks allowed and second in scoring.
“Erik will guide our offensive line and recruiting efforts,” Wells said. “I had the opportunity to recruit Erik out of high school and coach him at WKU. He’s done a great job of coaching and recruiting at his stops. He developed very good offensive lines at ETSU and Alcorn State, and recruited and coached a freshman All-American at Southern Miss. I look forward to him leading our guys.”
During the spring of 2012, Losey coached tight ends at Campbell University. He moved over to coach the running backs during the 2012 season at Campbell. In 2011, he coached the offensive line at Webber International.
After starting his coaching career at Western Kentucky in a graduate assistant role in 2007 and 2008, Losey was an offensive quality control assistant at Florida State during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Morrison joined the EKU football program in January 2016. In 2020, Morrison will serve as the team’s defensive backs coach, the position he coached for the Colonels in 2016 and 2017. During the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Morrison coached the linebackers.
“Shannon came highly recommended from some people I have worked with in the past and who had also worked with him,” Wells said. “Butch Jones and T.J. Weist both spoke highly of Shannon. I got the chance to observe him and watch him recruit and be around the players. He’s a true professional and will do good things with our secondary.”
With Morrison’s assistance, the Colonels fielded one of the best defenses in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2018 and 2019. The 2018 unit finished second in the league in points allowed per game and total defense. The 2019 EKU defense was second in the OVC in points allowed, second in total defense, second in rushing defense and third in passing defense.
Eastern Kentucky was fifth in the nation in third down defense, seventh in fourth down defense, 11th in red-zone defense, 15th in rushing defense, 16th in total defense and 22nd in scoring defense in 2019.
Rothenbuhler joined the Eastern Kentucky program as tight ends coach in March 2019.
“I’m excited about Troy’s move from the tight ends coach to quarterbacks, which is where he naturally fits after having worked with the quarterbacks with the Arizona Cardinals and at several of his stops in college football,” said Wells. “I didn’t know Troy coming in, but we knew several people who were connected with each other. I observed him and he did an excellent job with recruiting and feel like he is a good fit here at EKU. He’ll bring a familiarity with the players and I look forward to continuing to work with him.”
Rothenbuhler helped the Colonels to a 7-5 record and a fourth place finish in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2019. His tight end group helped EKU lead the conference and finished 20th in the country in rushing. Eastern also led the conference in red-zone offense and was third in scoring.
Rothenbuhler spent the 2018 season with the Arizona Cardinals working with the quarterbacks in a quality control position. Prior to that, he spent six seasons (2011-17) as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Findlay.