UPDATE: Coach Fritz Announces GSU Football Staff Filling Out - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Coach Fritz Announces GSU Football Staff Filling Out


Story from January 24:  Georgia Southern football coach Willie Fritz joined WSAV's Ken Slats and Sports Radio 102.1's Seth Harp at halftime of the WSAV Blitz Basketball Series in Statesboro Thursday evening and revealed five hires for his coaching staff (former assistants at Sam Houston State).  Doug Ruse will come to Statesboro as Offensive Coordinator.  Matt Barrett is the Eagles new Wide Receivers' Coach.  Johnny Jernigan has been tabbed to coach the defensive line and Mike Mutz the defensive backs.  Kyle Speer is the new Strength & Conditioning Coach.

















JANUARY 29, 2013


Coach Fritz Announces Football Coaching Staff Additions
Eagle program adds five new coaches and retains two

STATESBORO, Ga. – Georgia Southern Head Football Coach Willie Fritz  announced the addition of five new members to his coaching staff and the retention of two assistant coaches for the 2014 season. Joining the Eagle Football coaching staff are four assistant coaches from Sam Houston State: Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Doug Ruse, Wide Receivers Coach Matt Barrett, Defensive Ends Coach Johnny Jernigan, and Linebackers Coach Michael Mutz (pronounced Moo-tz). Kevin Peoples, who coached at UAB last season, will coach the defensive line. Defensive Coordinator Jack Curtis and Assistant Coach Chad Lunsford have been retained. Curtis will continue to work with the Eagle secondary while Lunsford moves to the role of tight ends coach after his first season with the wide receivers in 2013.

Fritz was introduced as the Eagles' ninth head coach on January 10 and has been assembling both his coaching staff and his first recruiting class in the past few weeks. Of Fritz's assistant coaches announced to date, several have worked together at other institutions, including Sam Houston State, Arkansas State and Northwestern State. Curtis, Peoples and Ruse were members of the Red Wolves Football staff from 2002-2008 and also coached together at Northwestern State. Peoples served under Coach Fritz as a defensive line coach at both Blinn College and Central Missouri.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Sam Houston State for Coach Fritz for the last two seasons, Doug Ruse joins Georgia Southern in the same role. A finalist for the FCS Coordinator of the Year award in 2012, the Kansas City, Mo., native has consistently produced high-scoring, high-powered offenses during his 20-plus-year coaching career.

In Ruse's first of two seasons in Huntsville, the Bearkats ranked among the top 10 in the 2012 FCS national rankings in four major offensive statistics. Last year, the results were also impressive, with Sam Houston State again among the nation's leaders in rushing, scoring and total offense and boasting a top-20 ranking in passing efficiency.

Sam Houston State was the only NCAA FCS team to average more than 40 points a game in each of the last two years and became in 2012 only the third team in NCAA FCS history to score 600 points in a single season. The Bearkats were second in the nation in 2012 and fourth in 2013 in scoring, despite increasing its average to 41.1 points per game. In both years, Sam Houston topped the Southland Conference in scoring offense and rushing offense, with a league-best 5.7 yards per carry and 79 touchdowns.

Over the last two seasons, the Bearkats racked up 50 or more points in a game on 11 occasions, showcasing an offense that dominated opponents. Ruse's offense in 2012 also produced school records with 6,878 yards of total offense yards and an average of 268.3 rushing yards per game en route to a Southland Conference title, an 11-4 record and NCAA Division I Championship finals appearance.

Individual records and accolades accompanied the Bearkats' team success over the last two years.

Seven Bearkats on offense earned 2012 All-Southland honors, five selected to the first team and two to the second team. Sam Houston State was represented by five student-athletes, including four-time honoree Tim Flanders, on 2013 All-Southland Conference teams. The 2012 Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Flanders earned national recognition as he his name was listed on several All-America teams with a first-team nod from the Associated Press, while Kaleb Hopson was a third-team selection by The Sports Network. Sam Houston State quarterback Brian Bell, a three-time all-league selection, added to his totals as the Bearkats' career leader in passing yards, yards of total offense and passing touchdowns.

As offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Ruse worked closely with Western Illinois quarterback Matt Barr, the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award in 2010 as he broke numerous single-season and single-game records. The Missouri Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Barr accounted for a WIU-record seven touchdowns in a game (6 pass, 1 rush), and set a single-game quarterback rushing record. His name stands at the top of the single-season chart for passing yards (3,410), passing touchdowns (27), and total offense (3,859) in addition to QB records for rushing yards (449), and rushing scores (7).

In 2010, the Leathernecks lead the Missouri Football Conference in scoring, passing and total offense as well as pass efficiency, and were ranked in the nation in total offense with 457.2 yards per game (5,944 yards in 13 games). Both those total offense figures, and the 3,465 passing yards in 2010, stand as WIU single-season records with the 32.5 points per game tied for the fourth-best scoring average all-time and the 423 points third-best in program history.

During that season, Western Illinois defeated ranked teams in North Dakota State and Northern Iowa and earned a playoff berth for the first time since 2003, advancing to the second round. The Leathernecks finished the season with a No. 17 ranking. The following year, the 2011 squad added an upset win to its accomplishments, topping 12th-ranked Southern Illinois.

Prior to his arrival at WIU, Ruse spent eight years at Arkansas State as offensive coordinator and mentor to the Red Wolves quarterbacks. Among his students was 2007 Davey O'Brien semifinalist Corey Leonard who tallied 252.9 yards per game of total offense and was responsible for 21 touchdowns that season. He ranked among the Sun Belt leaders in passing, total offense and passing efficiency. During his tenure, his student-athletes earned more than 20 first- or second-team all-Sun Belt Conference honors.

Several Arkansas State program records were rewritten when Ruse commanded the offense, including new single-game standards for passing yards, yards of total offense, yards per carry, and touchdowns, to name just a few. The 2008 season's 4,786 yards of total offense broke a 57-year old record with the marks for the 2002, 2005 and 2007 seasons all ranking in the top 10 in that statistical category. Countless individual additions were made to the top-10 lists across the offensive categories and four Red Wolves finished their careers among the ASU leaders for total offense under Ruse, including Leonard who reached the number one spot with his total of 8,887.

Ruse spent eight years at Northwestern State before moving to Arkansas State with Steve Roberts in 2002. Hired as the quarterbacks coach in 1994 by the program's winningest coach Sam Goodwin, he was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1997, helping the Demons to back-to-back Southland Conference titles and NCAA FCS playoff appearances. In addition to single-game, season and career passing and scoring records falling, the 1998 team tied the school record for most wins with 11 and finished with a number-three ranking after advancing to the NCAA semifinals.

A double alum of Northwest Missouri State, earning both his undergraduate (1986) and graduate (1988) degrees in Maryville, Mo., Ruse first served as a graduate assistant coach for the NWMS Bearcats. He joined the full-time staff with responsibilities for coaching the quarterbacks and in 1990 was named offensive coordinator.

Ruse and his wife, the former Sandy Gallagher, are the parents of three children, Adam, Megan and Whitney.

Veteran coach and recruiter Kevin Peoples joins Georgia Southern Football for 2014 and will coach the defensive line. Peoples spent last season as defensive line coach for UAB after three seasons at Arkansas, serving as the Razorbacks' defensive tackles coach in 2012.

Under Peoples' direction, the 2012 Arkansas defensive line earned a top-25 national ranking in sacks and the Razorbacks boasted a rushing defense that finished in the top 20. The Razorbacks posted consecutive 10-win seasons for just the third time in school history and made back-to-back BCS bowl appearances in 2010 (Sugar Bowl) and 2011 (Cotton Bowl). The 2011 squad capped its 11-2 season with a No. 5 national ranking following a 29-16 victory over Kansas State.

Peoples was part of the defensive staff at Arkansas State in 2002 that vaulted the Red Wolves 41 spots in the national rankings in total defense from 80th to 39th, one of only a handful of teams to make such a dramatic improvement. The Red Wolves' coaches built off that success, entrenching Arkansas State as one of the top two teams in in the Sun Belt in total defense for the next five years. Arkansas State won its first Sun Belt title in 2005 and appeared in the New Orleans Bowl.

In his eight years at Arkansas State, Peoples coached 11 all-Sun Belt Conference selections and mentored several student-athletes who earned All-Sun Belt Conference awards, including Corey Williams (2002, 2003), Jon Bradley (2002, 2003) Myron Anderson (2005), Jonathan Najm (2006), Jammarrow James (2006), Alex Carrington (2008, 2009) and Bryan Hall (2009).

Carrington, the league's Defensive Player of the year in 2008, was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills while both Williams and Bradley spent multiple seasons in the NFL. Hall was a member of the Baltimore Ravens when they won Super Bowl XLVII.

Team accomplishments and student-athlete accolades at Arkansas State were products of Peoples' coaching, effort and caring. In 2003, he was selected from 500 coaches as one of the recipients of the AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year Award, recognizing those coaches who made a significant contribution to their teams.

Peoples' experiences at different programs and levels have exposed him to a number of philosophies that have helped mold his evolving approach to defensive line play. He first joined Fritz's staff at Blinn Community College, helping the Buccanneers to the national junior college championship in 1995. The following year, he coached the defensive ends and worked with the kickoff coverage team at Northwestern State.

Reuniting with Fritz at Central Missouri for the 1997 and 1998 seasons, Peoples served as defensive line coach, tutoring first-team All-MIAA and All-Midwest Region defensive lineman Kenneth Bouie. The Mules' record holder with 23 tackles for loss in a single season in 1998, Bouie still appears in the UCM top 10 list for most tackles in a game and season as well as career tackles for loss. He earned All-America honors as a member of the Blinn championship team before continuing his collegiate career with UCM.

Peoples left for Northern Arizona in 1999 to coach the defensive line and special teams for the Lumberjacks and moved to the professional ranks with the XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws for the 2000 season.  In 2001, he accepted a position coaching defensive tackles back at Northwestern State for then-Demons and current Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Jack Curtis. When Steve Roberts took the reins of the Arkansas State program, Peoples became the Red Wolves' defensive line coach in January 2002.

A four-year starter at linebacker in college, Peoples launched his coaching career at his alma mater, Carroll College (Mont.) in 1993, spending two years under the tutelage of legendary coach Bob Petrino, Sr.  A two-time all-conference pick and all-district selection as a senior, Peoples helped lead the Saints to the 1989 Frontier Conference crown and a berth in the NAIA playoffs.

Peoples is married to the former Rebecca Chilton of Buckeye, Ariz.

Matt Barrett begins his 15th year of college coaching and first at Georgia Southern in 2014. The wide receivers coach in 2012 and 2013 for Coach Willie Fritz at Sam Houston State, he will assume that same role for the Eagles. Barrett joined the Bearkat staff after serving for nine seasons in the roles of offensive coordinator at Missouri Southern State and Catawba College, bringing his experience as a playcaller and technician.

During Barrett's two seasons in Huntsville, three Bearkat receivers were honored with All-Southland Conference accolades. In 2013, Torrance Williams caught 12 touchdowns and 962 total yards receiving to earn first-team all-conference recognition. Trey Diller, a Carolina Panthers signee, led the Bearkats with 62 catches for 927 yards, good for a spot on the All-Southland Conference team in 2012. Two-time All-Southland Conference selection Richard Sincere contributed to the receiving corps' 14.51 yards per catch average, a figure good for second nationally.

Twelve Bearkats had at least one TD reception as Sam Houston State in 2013 had one of the highest passing touchdown totals among NCAA FCS teams.

As the Bearkats rolled to the NCAA FCS national championship game in 2012, they employed an offensive attack with nearly 200 passing yards per game. The 6,878 yards of total offense included 2,853 passing yards for the school record. Sam Houston State ranked among the nation's leaders in scoring offense, holding the top spot through the regular season.

While at Missouri Southern State, Barrett guided the Lions to one of their most productive offensive years ever in 2010 with more than 2,500 passing yards and nearly 1,800 yards on the ground. In 2011, MSSU improved its national rankings in several statistical categories and increased its scoring by more than a touchdown per game. Twelve all-conference honors were bestowed upon nine Lions players in that two-year span.

Barrett joined Dave Bennett's staff at Catawba College (N.C.) in 2000 as an offensive assistant and the following year was promoted to running backs coach. Running back Rodney Wallace broke Catawba's freshman rushing record in 2001 and set the single-season rushing mark as sophomore. A rare first-team all-conference selection as a freshman, Wallace led the South Atlantic Conference in rushing and repeated as an All-SAC pick in 2002. He would go on to shatter Catawba's career rushing yards record and finish his career as a four-time all-conference honoree.

In 2003, Barrett earned the co-offensive coordinator title, coaching the quarterbacks and developing the Catawba passing game. That year, Barrett's quarterback Luke Samples was selected as the SAC Player of the Year, claimed a spot on the All-South Region team, and he would close his career as the Catawba Indians' winningest quarterback in the program's 100-year history.

Quarterback Brad Roach led Catawba to a 10-1 conference championship season in 2007 and earned first-team AFCA All-America and South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year honors. He would sign with the Baltimore Ravens after his college career.

Numerous individual season and career passing, rushing and touchdowns records were set under Barrett's leadership as offensive coordinator and coach of the quarterbacks and wide receivers. At the end of his tenure at Catawba, Barrett helped produce two of the top three best seasons by receivers and six of the top 10 in school history.

More than a dozen team records were established and still stand, including marks for points, touchdowns, scoring average, yards per game and total yards. Virtually all of the passing records were also rewritten and Catawba's 81 touchdowns in 2007 ranked ahead of all NCAA Division I team totals.

Barrett began his coaching career as a defensive backs and special teams coach at Orange County High School in 1999 after his completing his undergraduate degree at N.C. State.

Born and raised in Fayetteville, N.C., Barrett and his wife Gretchen are the parents of a son, Samuel.

After four years with Coach Willie Fritz at Sam Houston State, Johnny Jernigan begins his first year with Georgia Southern and will coach the Eagle defensive ends.

Fritz assembled a defensive staff that made an immediate impact on the Bearkat program and Jernigan's arrival in early 2010 signaled a new approach to the coaching of the defensive line. The high-energy Houston, Texas, native helped Sam Houston State's defensive rankings in several categories rise more than 50 spots from the year prior. The Bearkats' rushing defense vaulted from 86th to eighth nationally, allowing 100 only rushing yards per game, an average of 69.82 yards less than the previous year.

That impressive average would fall again as the Sam Houston State won the 2011 FCS statistical title with the best defense of the run. The Bearkats allowed only 72.9 yards per game, an average second only to Alabama in the NCAA Division I rankings. The dominating defense during Sam Houston's 2011 Southland Conference championship season and NCAA title run was second in the country in scoring defense and turnover margin, third in total defense and fourth in pass efficiency defense.

Again in 2012, as Sam Houston State won back-to-back Southland Conference titles and advanced to the NCAA championship game for the second-straight year, Jernigan's defensive line helped place the Bearkats among the national leaders in total defense, scoring defense and turnover margin. Sam Houston State posted a final ranking of sixth in rush defense (98.53 yards per game) and tied for fifth in quarterback sacks with 38 that season.

In the league, the Bearkats held the No. 1 spot in 11 different defensive categories over the last three seasons. Evidence of the commanding defense line play, Sam Houston State has ranked first in rushing defense for four straight years (2010-2013) with no other Southland Conference team coming close to that streak in the last 10 seasons.

Jernigan coached three Bearkat linemen who would earn postseason accolades for their performances with J.T. Cleveland and Andrew Weaver both receiving All-America recognition. Cleveland, a All-Southland Conference selection three times in his career, would be included as a Phil Steele Publications All-American in 2011. Gary Lorance joined Cleveland as an All-SLC honoree in 2011 and 2012. 

Andrew Weaver led Sam Houston State with the most tackles by a lineman with 44 and was credited with a team-best seven sacks in 2013. His 8.5 tackles for loss were second on the team and he also forced two fumbles. With 17 career sacks, he stands third on the Bearkats' all-time list. An All-SLC honoree as a senior, he was named to the Associated Press' All-America third team.

Jernigan spent time at two Ohio Valley Conference institutions and coached a year at Henderson State before his appointment to Sam Houston State. At Murray State from 2006-2009, he helped the Racers' defense make significant improvements in their statistical standings as they moved to a No. 2 ranking in total defense, and to third in both rush and pass defense in 2008.

Included among the Murray State players Jernigan coached was two-time All-America defensive end and OVC Defensive Player of the Year Austen Lane. Twice selected to the OVC All-Conference first team, Lane set Murray State's single-season record and career records for sacks and tackles for loss. He became the Racers' highest-ever NFL draft pick, selected in the fifth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010.

At Tennessee-Martin for five years, Jernigan was the Skyhawks' defensive line coach and served as the team's interim head coach for its final four games of the 2002 season. In 2005, UT-Martin led the OVC in total defense and ranked second in pass defense.

Jernigan's defensive lines in both 2003 and 2005 made their mark in the Skyhawk record book by posting two of the top-10 season sack totals. Defensive end Andre Plummer topped the annual list of leaders for 2003 in the individual sack category and by the end of his career, tied for the second-highest UT-Martin total with 15.0.

A coaching opportunity after graduation brought Jernigan to Kilgore College where he would begin his coaching career. Jernigan served as the Rangers' defensive line coach from 1994 until 1999. During those six seasons, the Kilgore defense claimed either second or third in the conference in total defense.

Derrick Pickens, one of Jernigan's players, became the first Kilgore defensive lineman to earn All-America honors and was named the Southwest Junior College Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He led the SWJCFC in tackles for loss and registered a league-best nine sacks in 1999. He signed with Iowa and started 22 games for the Hawkeyes over two seasons, earning Big Ten honors and was named the 2001 Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP.

A first-team All-Texas Junior College Football Conference defensive end at Tyler Junior College, Jernigan earned an associate of arts degree in health and physical education in 1992 and continued his collegiate career at Stephen F. Austin.

As a senior at SFA in 1993, Jernigan was a member of the Lumberjack team that secured a bid to the NCAA FCS playoffs and No. 14 final national ranking. The two-time letterwinner was a preseason second-team All-Southland Conference selection in 1993 after a solid effort in 1992 with 45 tackles and two sacks for All-SLC honorable mention laurels. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology from Stephen F. Austin in 1994.

Jernigan was a linebacker on the 1988 Navasota High School defense that was a major factor in the Rattlers' trip to the state finals that year. He and his wife LaShunta have two sons, Davon, who was a member of Navasota's 16-0 state championship team in 2012, and Amontae.

(pronounced MOO-tz)

Michael Mutz begins his first year at Georgia Southern as the Eagles' linebackers coach after one season at Sam Houston State.

In 2013, Mutz coached the Bearkat cornerbacks with Bookie Sneed earning first team All-Southland Conference and Sports Network All-America third-team honors. Sneed finished his career ranked in the Sam Houston State top-10 for interceptions with while De'Antrey Loche tied the single-season mark for interception returns for touchdowns with three.

From San Antonio, Texas, Mutz spent three years as a defensive coordinator, two at Missouri Southern State and one at Blinn College before returning to the Sam Houston State program under Coach Willie Fritz.

Mutz's MSSU Lions ranked at the top of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) in total defense and rush defense in 2010, and held opponent defenses to the lowest first downs total in the league. The following season, MSSU posted solid numbers in the conference and ranked eighth nationally in both tackles for loss and sacks.

All-Americans on the Lions' defense included defensive tackle Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State's career sacks leader, who was selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Williams was among the 16 MIAA All-Conference team members coached by Mutz during his tenure there, along with two Lions who were honored as academic All-Americans.

Mutz was also responsible for Missouri Southern State's kickoff and kickoff return teams in 2008 and 2009. In his first year in that coaching role, the Lions led the MIAA in that statistical category with more than 1,000 kickoff return yards for an average of 23.59 yards per return, good for 17th nationally.

At Blinn, Mutz oversaw the 2012 Buccaneers' defense, coached the linebackers and was responsible for the punting unit for special teams. Seven of his student-athletes from the 2012 season went on to sign scholarships at Division I programs.

Hired to Sam Houston State by legendary coach Ron Randleman in 2004, Mutz coached the defensive line, helping the Bearkats tie for the Southland Conference lead with 16 fumble recoveries. Sam Houston State won the Southland Conference championship that season and advanced to its first-ever NCAA FCS semifinal game. Polls placed that 11-3 squad as the No. 4 team in the nation, with its highest-ever wins total and highest-ever ranking to that point.

Mutz worked his way up the coaching ranks, earning his graduate degree at Southern Illinois while serving for two years as an assistant football coach working with the defensive line and secondary. He accepted a full-time position at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas in early 2001 and was part of the coaching staff that led the Greyhounds to three-straight playoff appearances.

In addition to his on-field coaching responsibilities, Mutz coordinated the video needs for Sam Houston State in 2013 as well as for both the Southern Illinois and Fort Scott programs. He coached the punt and kickoff coverage teams at Fort Scott and also handled duties as the assistant strength coach.

A 1997 graduate of Colorado Mesa University, Mutz was a two-year letterwinner at defensive back for the Mavericks. He will reside in Statesboro with his two Boston Terriers, Hank and Hudson.

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