Alcorn State’s Jones finalizes coaching staff

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

LORMAN — New Alcorn State football coach Ernest Jones wasted no time in assembling his coaching staff, and he thinks he brought in a staff capable of winning the SWAC.

“I’m excited,” Jones said on Tuesday. “I feel I’ve put together a championship staff that will give us an opportunity to compete in the SWAC.”

Jones’ two biggest hires were that of offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator, positions he filled with men who have Division I coaching experience.

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Earnest Collins was tabbed as associate head coach/defensive coordinator and Dino Dawson was selected to lead the offense.

Collins comes to Alcorn State after holding the title of secondary coach at Conference USA champion Central Florida.

The Knights finished with a 10-4 record and despite their 10-3 loss to Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl, Collins’ defense held Bulldog quarterback Wesley Carroll to just 39 yards passing.

UCF’s defense ranked second in the nation with 23 interceptions on the season.

Dawson was the receivers coach at Illinois for the 2005 and 2006 seasons before sitting out the past football season.

The remaining staff hired by Jones was wide receivers coach Michael Armour, running backs coach Terrence Robinson, linebackers and recruiting coordinator Vach Shay, defensive back coach Jack Phillips, defensive line and special teams coach Keith Majors, offensive line coach Adam Shorter and strength coordinator Lorenzo Guess.

Jones said hiring coaching with Division I experience was important to him.

“I felt like that being in such a remote location, it was important to hire coaches from different areas,” Jones said. “I’m really excited about the caliber of coaches we have on the sidelines.”

Jones did not retain anyone from former coach Johnny Thomas’ staff, although he conducted interviews with many of them and had said continuity was important.

“It was a very tough decision (not to retain any previous assistants),” Jones said. “There were a couple of strong candidates but the people I talked to about the job (outside the program) were too great to pass up. To be able to get the guys were were able to get is exciting.”

Jones was hired on Dec. 11 to replace Thomas, who was fired after a 2-8 season.

Jones, the former running backs coach at Cincinnati, coached the Bearcats in the Papa John’ Bowl on Dec. 21, which they won 31-21 over Southern Miss.

Jones said he felt it was important to put a staff together quickly so they could begin the recruiting process.

“I wanted to get it done as soon as possible after the (bowl) game,” Jones said. “We got off to a late start which is why I wanted to get this done quickly.”