2008 NEWBERRY COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA GUIDE
Offensive Line Coach
Head coach Zak Willis enters
his sixth season as the
head football coach at Newberry
College in the fall of
Through five seasons at
Newberry, Willis has compiled
a won-loss record of 33-21
(.611) overall, making him
the winningest head football
coach in the institution’s history
in terms of winning percentage.
Willis’ 2007 squad finished the season with a record of
9-2, the second-best season of the program. Only the 2006
playoff squad had a better year.
The 2007 team, the last to compete as Newberry “Indians”,
finished the season with a national ranking of 18th in the
American Football Coaches Association Top 25 poll.
A total of eight Newberry players were named to all-South
Atlantic Conference teams, with four of those earning first
The seniors of the 2007 team excelled both on and off
the field. Alex Haynes earned multiple all-Southeast Region
honors and was named an Honorable Mention all-American
by D2Football.com. The running back also participated in the
2007 East Coast Bowl all-star game.
Derrick Hines and Corky Howell were leaders on the field
and in the classroom, earning ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA
Academic All-District laurels.
Offensive lineman Heath Benedict earned the most honors
in school history before his tragic death in March of 2008.
He became the school’s first representative in the Senior
Bowl, participated in the NFL Scouting Combine, was a national
finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award (best lineman in
Division II), earned the Football Gazette Lineman of the Year,
was named to four All-American squads and won the SAC’s
Jacobs Blocking Trophy for the second consecutive year.
Newberry carries a five-game winning streak from the
2007 season into the 2008 campaign, and have a record of
20-4 in the last two years.
The scarlet and gray have also enjoyed a considerable
home-field advantage at Setzler Field under Willis’ leadership.
Newberry has won 15 consecutive home games, which
HEAD COACH ZAK WILLIS
Furman, 1990 • Entering Sixth Season at Newberry College
is the third-longest home winning streak in NCAA Division II.
Overall, Newberry is 22-8 at home under coach Willis, including
the postseason win over Albany State in 2006 and win
over Division I-FCS opponent Coastal Carolina in 2004.
Willis led the Indians to their best season in school history
in 2006, as Newberry finished the season with an 11-2
record and captured their first-ever South Atlantic Conference
Championship. Willis led the Scarlet and Gray to their firstever
appearance in the NCAA Division II Playoffs, advancing
into the quarterfinal round. Willis was named the SAC Coach
of the Year in 2006.
The 2006 Indians finished the season
with a national ranking of 12th in the
American Football Coaches Association
Top 25 Poll.
A total of 10 players were
named to the All-SAC teams
in 2006. Quarterback Josh
Stepp, who was a First-
Team selection at quarterback,
named the SAC’s
Offensive Player of the
Offensive lineman Heath
Benedict was also named to the
Little All-American First Team by
the Associated Press, the first
Newberry player to make this
team since 1979.
Willis brought the Indians their
first winning conference season in
20 years in 2005. The 4-3 mark and
third place finish was the best since
1985’s 4-2-1 record.
Newberry’s 5-4 overall finish was
the first .500+ mark in seven years.
The Indians put together their first
four-game conference winning
streak in Newberry history. Along
the way, they broke a five-game losing
streak to Tusculum, an eightgame
losing streak to Catawba,
12 2008 NEWBERRY COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA GUIDE
and a six-game losing streak to Mars Hill, all those victories
coming on the road.
Willis directed the Indians to a 5-6 record in 2004, the team’s
best since 1999. Newberry book-ended six conference losses
with wins over Division I-AA Coastal Carolina, giving them their
only loss on the year, and archrival Presbyterian College, bringing
the Bronze Derby back to Newberry after seven seasons in
In his initial season, Willis broke an 18-game conference
losing streak dating back three seasons by knocking off Lenoir-
Rhyne in the homecoming game. Newberry went on to win its
second conference game over Wingate later in the season.
The Newberry football team has also earned the highest
grade point average of any football team in the South Atlantic
Conference in the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic
years. A total of 45 players were named to the SAC Commissioner’s
Honor Roll in those seasons.
Willis was hired as the 17th football coach in the history of
the Division II institution at a press conference held at the Newberry
Opera House on December 17, 2002.
Willis completed a three-year stint as the head coach at
Pikeville (Ky.) College, where he helped start football in the
2000 season at the NAIA institution. His teams went 9-11 in
two years at the varsity level, including a 6-4 record in 2002.
During Pikeville’s club campaign in 2000, Willis took a team
from scratch to a 7-1 record.
Willis, 40, is the youngest head football coach in the state
of South Carolina. He is the second youngest coach in the
South Atlantic Conference, just a year older than fellow Furman
Paladin alum Frankie DeBusk, who heads the Tusculum College
program. The two were teammates at the Greenville, S.C.,
Division I-AA program.
A South Carolina native, Willis hails from McColl, a few miles
from the North Carolina/South Carolina border.
He was a graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina
for the four years prior to his time at Pikeville, under head
coaches Brad Scott and Lou Holtz. He served as tight ends
coach and assistant to the recruiting coordinator.
Prior to his time at USC, Willis was the defensive coordinator
at Greenville (Ill.) College, leading that squad to league
bests in turnover margin and rushing defense, while putting up
number-two total defensive numbers in the 1996 season, his
last with the school. He coached eight All-Conference players
and three All-Americans while at Greenville College.
Willis is married to the former Sara Ratliff and has a son,
Zackary, aged 8. The couple are also the proud parents of an
infant daughter, Reagan.
2008 NEWBERRY COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA GUIDE
THE ZAK WILLIS FILE
Age: 40 (born December 30, 1967)
Laurinburg, North Carolina
McColl, South Carolina
High School: McColl High School
Alma Mater: Furman (1990)
Degree: Southwestern Baptist Seminary (1992)
M.A., Religious Education
Three-year letterman at Furman
son Zackary (8), daughter Reagan (infant)
Head Coaching Experience:
2000 Pikeville (Ky.) Club Head Coach 7-1
2001 Pikeville (Ky.) Head Coach 3-7
2002 Pikeville (Ky.) Head Coach 6-4
2003 Newberry Head Coach 3-7
2004 Newberry Head Coach 5-6
2005 Newberry Head Coach 5-4
2006 Newberry Head Coach 11-2
2007 Newberry Head Coach 9-2
2006 NCAA Division II Playoffs Newberry
NEWBERRY COLLEGE FOOTBALL
2006 SOUTH ATLANTIC CONFERENCE
2006 NCAA DIVISION II PLAYOFFS
ASSISTANT COACHES - OFFENSE
1992 Graduate of North Carolina State University
Second Season at Newberry
Recruiting Area: Midlands
1998 Graduate of Newberry College
Eighth Season at Newberry
Recruiting Area: Upstate and Midlands
Todd Varn is in his second stint with the Newberry
College staff, serving as offensive coordinator. The 2008
season will be Varn’s second as offensive coordinator at Newberry. From 1995-96,
Varn served one season each as running backs coach and linebackers coach.
Prior to this stint at Newberry, Varn was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks
coach at Presbyterian College in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
In 1997-98, Varn served as assistant coach at Virginia Military Institute, coaching
the Keydets’ defensive backs in 1997 and linebackers and special teams coach
He was offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and running backs coach at
Charleston Southern University from 1999 to 2001, and was the quarterbacks coach
at Western Carolina University from 2002 to 2004, serving as offensive coordinator
for the Catamounts in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Varn recieved his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from North Carolina
State University in 1992, and was a four-year letterman at running back for the
Wolfpack from 1986-89,
Varn is married to the former Kris Herlong. They are the parents of twin boys,
Kody and Jarrett.
2003 Graduate of Newberry College
Second Season at Newberry
Recruiting Area: Pee Dee
Bradley Adams begins his second season as an assistant
coach at his alma mater after four seasons coaching in the
high school ranks. This is his second stint at Newberry, as
he assisted with defensive backs and linebackers in his
final semester as a student.
Most recently, Adams was offensive coordinator, as well as strength and
conditioning coach at Mullins High School for the 2006 season. In 2005, Adams
held the same positions at Darlington High School. The 2004 season saw Adams
serve as special teams coordinator and academic coach at South Florence High
School, while he was strength and conditioning coach at Loris High School in the
As a player for the Indians, Adams played at free safety, rover, cornerback, wide
receiver and special teams from 1999 through 2002.
Adams is single and resides in Newberry.
Ike Allred is entering his eighth year with Newberry
College, coaching the wide receivers. During his tenure,
Allred has coached an All-Conference receiver every season, a two time All-Region
receiver, and a two time All-American.
Allred is also serving as the recruiting coordinator for the seventh consecutive
year. The recruiting classes have become among the best ever in the history of
the school, as well as, the largest.
Allred was a four year letterman as a wide receiver and return specialist for
Newberry. He is rated as one of the top ten in touchdown receptions. After his
eligibility expired in 1996, Allred coached one year as a student assistant before
graduating in 1998 with a BS in Biology.
Allred later coached for two seasons for Sam Baird at Newberry High School,
before returning to his alma mater.
Allred is a product of Anderson, where he graduated from T.L. Hanna High School.
Allred played for Harold Jones and is still the all-time leading receiver at Hanna.
Allred is married to the former Christel Smith of Newberry. They live in Newberry
and attend Wightman United Methodist Church in Prosperity.
1998 Graduate of Western New England University
Third Season at Newberry
Recruiting Area: Lowcountry and Midlands
Kevin Turco enters his third season at Newberry College
after spending a season at East Carolina University under
Skip Holtz as the offensive staff assistant.
He currently is in charge of coaching the offensive
linemen, known as the “Roach Patrol”. In his first season on the offensive line,
Turco coached all-American Heath Benedict as well as all-conference performers
Jonathan Dailey and Marchent Faustin. The “Roach Patrol” allowed only 12 sacks
in 11 games in 2007.
In 2006, Turco was the defensive line coach. While coaching the defensive line,
Turco coached a group that finished in the Top 40 in the nation in total defense and
scoring defense. Turco also coached Jonathan Breaux on the defensive line, who
was named to the All-SAC Second Team in 2006.
While at ECU, Turco worked as an assistant offensive line coach for the Pirates.
In 2004, he served as a graduate assistant coach, working with quarterbacks and
special teams, at the University of South Carolina under the legendary Lou Holtz.
Turco’s first collegiate coaching job was at his alma mater, Western New England
College in Springfield, Mass., with defensive line responsibilities. He held the same
position at the University of St. Mary (Kansas) and at St. Peter’s College (New Jersey).
In 1999, he coached the defensive line at Westfield (Mass.) High School.
Turco spent six years in the United States Marine Corps infantry, spending time
in Norway and Estonia before returning to the country to serve as a recruiter for
He graduated from Western New England in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in
history, and completed the requirements for a master’s degree in education from
the University of Saint Mary in 2003. Turco was a quarterback and special teams
participant for the Golden Bears of Western New England for the 1994 and 1995
seasons, prior to his enlistment with the Marines.
14 2008 NEWBERRY COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA GUIDE
ASSISTANT COACHES - DEFENSE
1989 Graduate of Gardner-Webb University
Fifth Season at Newberry
Recruiting Area: Lowcountry
Todd Knight is in his fifth season at Newberry as the
Following the 2006 SAC Championship season, Knight’s defense was the topranked
defense in the conference.
He was most recently at Charleston Southern University where he served as the
assistant head coach and defensive coordinator under David Dowd.
Under his guidance, the 2001 Buccaneers’ “Blue Collar” defense achieved a top
twenty I-AA national ranking in total defense.
Knight served as defensive coordinator at Lees-McRae College, and was the secondary
coach at his alma mater, former SAC member Gardner-Webb University.
He received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education in 1989 and earned
a Master of Arts in Physical Education the following year as a graduate assistant
He has a daughter, Anna Maria, who is a sophomore at Newberry College. He
is married to the former Tina Martin and the pair resides in Little Mountain with
their son Devin.
2004 Graduate of Appalachian State University
Second Season at Newberry
Recruiting Area: Midlands and Upstate
Jason Blalock begins his second season with the Newberry
staff after three seasons as a graduate assistant at
Appalachian State. He will coach the defensive line for
In 2004, Blalock assisted with the instruction of the linebackers, while in 2005,
he assisted with the special teams and coached the defensive ends in the Mountaineers
Blalock played defensive tackle at Appalachian State, earning letters from 1999
through 2003, and playing as a starter for three seasons. He graduated from ASU
in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education with an emphasis in mathematics.
Jason married the former Susan Hopkins on June 28, 2008.
2007 Graduate of Newberry College
First Season at Newberry
Anathan Gibson begins his first full season as an assistant
coach on the Newberry staff, having previously served
as a student assistant in the 2006 SAC Championship
season. Gibson finished up his eligibility in 2005, appearing in seven games. He
showed his versatility by five different positions on the field for Newberry.
The Seneca, SC native started his career at Jones County Community College.
From there, Gibson went on to play at Dodge City Community College in Dodge
Gibson was a four-year starter at Seneca High School under legendary head
coach Tom Bass. He is a 2007 graduate of Newberry College.
2006 Graduate of Newberry College
Sixth Season at Newberry
Recruiting Area: Pee Dee and Upstate
Coach Flynn undertakes his sixth season as an assistant
football coach at Newberry College. He has served as the
Outside Linebackers coach all six years.
Before arriving at Newberry, Flynn coached several
years in the high school ranks. In 2002, he served as the
Offensive Coordinator at Keenan High School. Along with his coordinating duties,
he also coached the Quarterbacks, Running backs, and Defensive Secondary.
Prior to his stint at Keenan, Flynn coached five seasons from 1997 to 2001 at
Lugoff-Elgin High School. Over that period of time he served as Receivers coach,
Quarterbacks coach, and Running backs coach on the Offensive side of the ball.
His defensive duties included coaching the Secondary and Outside Linebackers.
In 1996 after a two year absence from coaching, Flynn took on his second stint
at his alma mater, Buford High School. During that season, Flynn served as the
Quarterbacks/Running backs coach. He also served as the assistant secondary
During the 1994 football season, Coach Flynn served as a volunteer assistant
in the Socastee football program. His duties included coaching the middle school
team and assisting with the varsity program as a scout. He contributed with all
phases of the game.
The 1993 football season was Coach Flynn’s inaugural season as a football
coach. He served as a volunteer assistant on the State Champion Runner-up team
at Buford High School, his alma mater. That year he coached the Quarterbacks
on Offense and assisted with the Secondary on Defense.
Coach Flynn played Quarterback and free safety on the gridiron at Buford High
School where he earned four varsity letters. He also played Free Safety at Lees-
McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C. where he earned one varsity letter in 1992.
Originally from Lancaster, S.C., Coach Flynn completed his associate’s degree
from the University of South Carolina-Lancaster in 1994 and finished his undergraduate
degree requirements in history at Newberry in 2006.
1986 Graduate of Newberry College
Fifth Season at Newberry
The Rev. Eddie Taylor will once again serve as Newberry’s
special teams coach. He set numerous kicking and
scoring records as a player at Newberry College.
He was best known for “THE KICK” to open the 1985
football season in which Newberry beat Furman 24-21. Eddie’s school and conference
record of 57 yards won the game for the Indians.
The school’s all time leader in field goals, he is tied for first in extra points, he is
currently fifth on the all time scoring list (201), and he is the second leading scoring
in the school for kickers.
He is also punted for the Indians and averaged 43 yards per punt on 200 punts.
He holds the most records for field goals in a season with 12, with 3 coming in
He was named Player of the Week in 1985, All District (four years), All Sac (2
years), won the team’s Special Teams Award(four years), and in 1985 was named
Honorable Mention All American.
He graduated and played professionally with the Atlanta Falcons. After leaving
the Falcons he coached several varsity sports before giving up his career to work
in the ministry.
2008 NEWBERRY COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA GUIDE