COACHING STAFF

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COACHING STAFF

COACHING STAFF

2008 NEWBERRY COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA GUIDE

Offensive Line Coach

Kevin Turco

11


Head coach Zak Willis enters

his sixth season as the

head football coach at Newberry

College in the fall of

2008

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

team honors.

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,

was also

named the SAC’s

Offensive Player of the

Year.

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

Clinton.

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)

Birthplace:

Hometown:

Laurinburg, North Carolina

McColl, South Carolina

High School: McColl High School

Alma Mater: Furman (1990)

B.A., History

Master’s

Degree: Southwestern Baptist Seminary (1992)

M.A., Religious Education

Playing Experience:

Three-year letterman at Furman

Defensive End

Married:

Children:

wife Sara

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

Postseason Experience:

2006 NCAA Division II Playoffs Newberry

NEWBERRY COLLEGE FOOTBALL

2006 SOUTH ATLANTIC CONFERENCE

CHAMPIONS

2006 NCAA DIVISION II PLAYOFFS

13


ASSISTANT COACHES - OFFENSE

TODD VARN

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

QUARTERBACKS

1992 Graduate of North Carolina State University

Second Season at Newberry

Recruiting Area: Midlands

IKE ALLRED

WIDE RECEIVERS

RECRUITING COORDINATOR

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

in 1998.

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.

BRADLEY ADAMS

RUNNING BACKS

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

2003 season.

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.

KEVIN TURCO

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

the Corps.

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

TODD KNIGHT

HEAD ASSISTANT

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

1989 Graduate of Gardner-Webb University

Fifth Season at Newberry

Recruiting Area: Lowcountry

Todd Knight is in his fifth season at Newberry as the

defensive coordinator.

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

coach.

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.

JASON BLALOCK

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

Newberry.

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

championship season.

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.

ANATHAN GIBSON

DEFENSIVE BACKS

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

City, KS.

Gibson was a four-year starter at Seneca High School under legendary head

coach Tom Bass. He is a 2007 graduate of Newberry College.

STEPHEN FLYNN

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

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

coach.

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.

EDDIE TAYLOR

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

one game.

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

15

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