JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Head Coach Ian Shields and Jacksonville University have filled their coaching staff with ten new hires owning diverse and contributing backgrounds and a collective ability to recruit high-quality student-athletes.
"I'm ecstatic about this coaching staff with the caliber of men to come here to Jacksonville University. I'm proud of this staff and I think the future is bright," said Shields. "There are coaches that have great experience and have been around for quite a while, with some for more than 20 years, and there are some who are just getting started as hungry, young professionals."
"What an impressive staff, one that is clearly capable of recruiting the exceptional football student-athletes that contribute to the richness of the high caliber student experience that is Jacksonville University,'' Chief Athletics Officer Dr. Donnie Horner said.
Tom Simi joins Jacksonville as its assistant head coach and will oversee the offensive line after coaching with Shields at Lenoir-Rhyne. Before Lenoir-Rhyne, he served as the co-offensive line coach at Army in 2013 and was the United States Military Academy Prep School head coach from 2009-12. Simi served as the offensive line coach for five seasons and later head coach at Feather River College in Quincy, Calif., prior to Army. The connection between Simi and Shields dates back to 1997 when the two coached at Eastern Oregon University.
Rich Ellerson steps in as defensive coordinator after serving as Army's head coach from 2009-13, which included a win in the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl, the program's first since 1985. Prior to West Point, Ellerson was the head coach at Cal Poly for eight years. His resume includes stints at Arizona twice, where he tutored College Football Hall of Famer Tedy Bruschi, Southern Utah, Hawaii, and the Canadian Football League.
From 1992-95, Ellerson worked under Dick Tomey at Arizona as assistant head coach and defensive line coach as part of the famous "Desert Swarm'' defense. During his tenure, the Wildcats were top-10 in total defense and second in the country against the rush in 1992 and '93. He also was instrumental with the Arizona special teams and his placekicker, Steve McLaughlin, won the Lou Groza Award in 1994.
Alan Darlin will coach the Dolphin linebackers and serve as the recruiting coordinator, a title he previously held at Lenoir-Rhyne. A 2009 graduate of Oregon State, Darlin was named second-team All-Pac-10 as a senior and was a four-year letterwinner for the Beavers. He registered 152 career tackles including 17.5 tackles-for-a-loss and eight sacks from his middle linebacker position.
Similar to his previous role at Lenoir-Rhyne, Mayur Chaudhari will mentor the safeties and oversee the special teams. Before his two seasons with the Bears, Chaudhari spent one season as Army's safeties coach and the head JV coach. His previous stops include time with the Atlanta Falcons, Virginia Military Institute, San Jose State, Menlo College, Stanford, and his alma mater, UC Davis.
Joe Anderson will lead the cornerbacks after one season coaching wide receivers at his alma mater, Lenoir-Rhyne. He was a three-year starter and in his career, totaled 166 tackles, four interceptions, 22 pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles. Anderson was a leader in the classroom as well, having earned Capital One CoSIDA NCAA Division II Academic All-America Football Team honors in both 2013 and 2014
Former West Point standout quarterback Trent Steelman will coach the Dolphin wide receivers. Steelman signed with the Ravens as a free agent in August 2015 after participating in Ravens rookie minicamp in 2013, but then had to fulfill his commitment to enter into military service with the Army. He was released from active duty in December 2014 to pursue a professional football career. His honors include MVP of the International Federation of American Football World Championship as Team USA took home gold. He graduated from Army as one of the most accomplished signal-callers in school history with career records of 45 rushing TDs and 6,043 combined rushing/passing yards.
Steven Sylvester joins Jacksonville to coach its running backs. Sylvester served as a graduate assistant for Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech for the past three seasons and coached the B-Backs. In 2014, the B-Back position rushed for 1,888 yards to help lead Tech to an Orange Bowl victory. Sylvester was a three-year starter at linebacker for the Yellow Jackets and played in 52 career games with 154 tackles, 19.5 tackles-for-a-loss, and seven sacks.
Local high school football coaching legend Kevin Sullivan joins the staff as Director of Operations and High School Relations. Sullivan began his career in 1981 at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, but is best known for turning the Jacksonville Jackson program into a powerhouse during 11 years there. His record at Jackson, according to The Florida Times-Union, was a sparkling 93-33. He exited Jackson to start the program at Atlantic High School in 2010 and retired from there in 2015.
Waylon Cox (JU '12) remains on staff as a graduate assistant and will work with the Dolphin defense, while Jesse Green and Austin Eisenhofer have been hired as offensive graduate assistants. Green will aid in mentoring the offensive tackles while Eisenhofer will work with Shields.
"The array of previous affiliations with quality universities and organizations is impressive,'' Horner said. "Arizona. Oregon State. Stanford. Cal-Poly. West Point. Georgia Tech. Washington & Lee. UC-Davis. The National Football League. The Canadian Football League. On and on. Our commitment to competing well in the Pioneer Football League is demonstrated in the strength of these credentials."
"There is a great mixture on our staff and I think that we will connect well with young student-athletes coming out of high school,'' Shields said. "I don't think that there will be a shortage of excellent, qualified football players looking toward Jacksonville University with a great location, degree, and winning football program.''