Meet the Football Staff
The article below was released to major media earlier this week:
What has 5 Masters Degrees, a Rank 1 certification, 3 state and 2 National Championships, one defensive and one offensive All-America, two major college MVP awards, and over 18 years of professional playing experience? It sounds like a team, or maybe a coaching staff? What sport? Your hint is “oblong spheroid”. Football? Good job. Which team? The newly assembled coaching staff of the Kentucky Christian University Knights, in the little eastern Kentucky burg of Grayson.
While the program at KCU is entering only its 6th season, it has been successful beyond expectation. The Knights finished 2012 ranked #25 in the NAIA. Not bad for a school of 550 that has a football tradition going back only to 2007. But, it was a tough winter, with the surprise departure of second year Head Coach and former NFL Wide Receiver Mike Furrey, along with several of the coaches.
For some, this change foretold a reining in of the success at KCU. But this is not the expectation of the administration, and certainly was not the plans of the remaining coaches. The school selected Quarterbacks Coach Gene Peterson to the head spot, and he secured the core of the coaching staff to stay on. Then Coach Peterson and the staff set to work to find the best talent and most experience they could to continue to develop the squad. And they have done it. In football terms, they have advanced the ball deep into the red zone, and all that remains is to put the points on the board. The folks who are watching are impressed with the staff that has been assembled…. KCU received more votes than any other unranked NAIA team in the pre-season coaches’ poll earlier this month. If you didn’t follow that, KCU is unofficially ranked 26th in the NAIA, a drop of only 1 place from the post-season.
Gene Peterson is the new head coach, and he has the Rank 1 mentioned above. He has 30 years of football coaching experience, mostly at the high school level, and he has been at KCU for the past two seasons.
Larry Blackstone, the Defensive Coordinator, also in his third year at KCU, was an All-America in 1967, on both Offense and Defense. Fairmont State College (now University) won the NAIA National Championship that year, with Larry and his brother Barry as the defensive ends. Larry was also a running back who set a single season school record of 1288 running yards. He was drafted in the 1968 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders, along with Ken Stabler and Art Shell. Larry is in the Fairmont State Athletic Hall of Fame as a player, and in the Salem International University HOF after six seasons as the Head Coach.
Barry Blackstone, Offensive Line Coach, Special Teams Coordinator, and twin brother to Larry, was an All-WVIAC player at Fairmont State, and a leader on that National Championship team. He retired from coaching high school football in Ohio after 40 years as a coach, and nearly as long as a teacher. He also coached at Salem International for a while, and came to KCU prior to the 2011 season. He is the father-in-law of Marshall University WR Coach and former NFL player Mike Furrey.
Alfred Gene “Jitter” Fields is the new Strong Safeties and Defensive Backs Coach. He came to KCU directly from the Stars Football League in Florida, where he was a Head Coach. Jitter Fields played at the University of Texas and was drafted by New Orleans in the 5th Round in 1984, as a DB and kick returner. He played for the Saints, Colts and Chiefs of the NFL; the CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders; the Dallas Texans, Arizona Rattlers, and Detroit Drive of the Arena Football League; and the Oklahoma City Twisters of the MFL. At Oklahoma City, he transitioned from player to coach, and became a Defensive Coordinator. He coached in various Detroit area schools in football and track and field, and then moved to the Stars Football League.
James C. Harrell walked on at Florida, and played Safety, Defensive End, but was a standout on Special Teams. He signed with the Denver Broncos, but also saw action with the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. He played one year for the USFL Tampa Bay Bandits. In 8 years in the NFL, he played in 89 games, and was a defensive starter in 32 of them. He went on to coach high school football in the Tampa, FL area, and over a career spanning 23 seasons managed two (2) 4-A championships and a #8 ranking in the country. He has also served 3 NFL coaching internships: Rhein Fire of NFL Europe, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Detroit Lions.
Al Clark has coached in the Washington, DC area for several years, and was a QB coach at Richmond University for a while. He played at Virginia Tech, and was their starting QB and the team MVP in both 1997 and ’98. He led Tech to victory in the 1998 Music City Bowl, defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 38-7, for Tech’s largest-ever margin of victory in a bowl game. Oh, yeah, and a kid named Vick got his job after he graduated.
Matthew Johnson is the new Running Backs coach at KCU, and he came from William Penn University, where he coached Linebackers and was the JV Defensive Coordinator. He coached there for two seasons while working on a Masters of Business Leadership. He was formerly a high school coach in Michigan, where he led his team to 330 yards per game and a state playoff spot. He coached at Adrian College, and completed a Strength and Conditioning internship there. In 2011, he was published in Gridiron Strategies Magazine.
Jermaine Keyes won a state championship in Mississippi, then played JuCo ball prior to transferring to Kentucky State University. He played for the NFL Cleveland Browns, the CFL Edmonton Eskimos, and the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe. He played 6 seasons of indoor football in various leagues. He has coached high school in Mississippi and West Virginia, and one year at the University of Charleston (WV). He is the Cornerbacks coach.
Aaron Baker, the Strength and Conditioning Coach, just completed an S&C Internship with Texas Christian University. He was an all-conference Wide Receiver at Albion College in Michigan, and a triple-jumper. He has coached at Olivet College in Michigan and Louisburg College in North Carolina. He recently completed a Masters in Coaching degree from Ohio University.
Pressley Marshall was an all-state wide receiver at Fleming Co HS a few years ago, but a heart condition kept him from playing in college. He is entering his third year at KCU as the WR coach. James “Hoot” Gibson coaches the Defensive Line. His playing days as a Linebacker and Long Snapper at Carson-Newman College ended after a neck injury, but he has coached in eastern TN for the past few years, following the legacy of his father, Carson-Newman All-America player and Hall of Fame coach Jim “Hoot” Gibson. Tyrone Young is the Director of Football Operations, and he was a lineman for KCU. He coached at East Carter in 2012. Caleb Cox is a graduate assistant coach of wide receivers, and played here at KCU as well.
Between them, they have over 160 years of coaching experience, with about 30 of those coming at the college or professional level. They have playing experience totaling 24 years in 6 professional leagues, 16 championships as coaches, and have produced at least 9 All-America players. This staff is seasoned, experienced, mature, and continuing to develop the disciplinary excellence that is required to make a great squad. As of today, they have signed 40 new players, and have verbal commitments from many others. So, don’t be surprised if the 2013 Knights football team is better prepared and better able than in previous years.
Kentucky Christian University will be hosting their Spring Game (intra-squad) on Saturday, May 4, 2013, at 1:30 PM. Admission is free, and the excitement level is high.