Big promotion for Harrell

Big promotion for Harrell


Big promotion for Harrell


Franklin graduate Blake Harrell is the new defensive coordinator at The Citadel.

Franklin graduate Blake Harrell is the new defensive coordinator at The Citadel.

Franklin alum Blake Harrell has been promoted to defensive coordinator at The Citadel, the school announced Friday.

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CHARLESTON, S.C. – Blake Harrell has been promoted to defensive coordinator, The Citadel head coach Brent Thompson announced Friday.

“Blake Harrell is one of the best defensive minds I have ever worked with,” Coach Thompson said. “We have been together on the same staff since 2010, and he has proven to be a fantastic coach. Coach Harrell played a major role in exceptional defenses here at The Citadel and at Lenoir-Rhyne. His promotion provides stability for our coaching staff and cadet-athletes in a system they have had success running and are comfortable within.”

Harrell came to The Citadel in 2014 as the Bulldogs’ inside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. He will continue to coach inside linebackers in addition to his defensive coordinator responsibilities. A-Backs coach J.P. Gunter is taking over special teams coordinator duties.

“I am excited to be named defensive coordinator at The Citadel,” Coach Harrell said. “Coach Thompson and I have worked together for many years, and I’m looking forward to continuing to build on the championship foundation we set last season. The Citadel produces fantastic cadet-athletes, and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of developing them on and off the field.”

In 2015, The Citadel earned a co-Southern Conference championship behind a school-record-tying six SoCon wins and finished 9-4 overall after advancing to the second round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs for only the second time in school history. The Bulldogs, who finished the season with a conference-best +117 scoring margin that included a +100 margin in SoCon play, earned the program’s first road playoff win with a 41-38 victory at Coastal Carolina in the first round of the playoffs.

The Bulldogs’ physical defense showed remarkable improvement from 2014, lowering its points-per-game allowed average nearly seven points and allowing 86 less yards per game while forcing 19 more turnovers.

Kicker Eric Goins broke the single-season school record with 16 made field goals and moved into second on The Citadel’s all-time career list with 25 made field goals. Goins earned second-team All-Southern Conference recognition after scoring 90 points, the second-highest single-season kicking total in school history, with 42 made PATs that ranked fourth on the program’s single-season list. Goins also moved into fourth on the program’s career kicking points list and sixth all-time in career PATs made.

Linebacker James Riley led the Bulldogs with 103 tackles, tied for the third-highest single-season total in program history and the first 100-tackle season for a Bulldog since 2011, and his average of 7.9 tackles per game ranked ninth in the SoCon. Tevin Floyd was a second-team All-Southern Conference selection after he tied for first in FCS with two interception return touchdowns and topped the SoCon with 123 interception return yards, the third-highest total in FCS.

Under Harrell’s direction in 2014, Cam Jackson ranked fourth in the SoCon with an average of 21.1 yards per kickoff return, Will Vanvick was fifth in the league with a punting average of 39.5 and Goins tied for second in the conference with nine field goals. Floyd was seventh in the conference with 6.7 tackles per game.

Harrell joined the Lenoir-Rhyne staff in 2007 as inside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. In the spring of 2008, he assumed duties as the program’s coordinator of recruiting, a position he held for four years, and was the Bears’ run game coordinator in 2013.

In 2013 Harrell helped coach a Lenoir-Rhyne team that reached the National Championship Game. The Bears set a school record with 13 wins and finished the year ranked No. 2 in the nation in Division II. Defensively, Lenoir-Rhyne led the South Atlantic Conference in total defense, rushing defense, quarterback sacks and scoring defense. The Bears’ linebacker corps featured Rodney Singleton who was named the league’s Defensive Freshman of the Year and Tanner Botts who was named an All-American, first-team All-SAC and second team All-Super Region II.

Harrell’s special teams also excelled in 2013 as kicker Zach Neumann set a new program record for scoring in a season en route to earning All-American honors. Neumann also was named first-team All-SAC and first-team All-Super Region II. Michael Green also set new program records for punt return yards in a career and single season to go along with his Defensive Player of the Year honors.

In 2012, Harrell coached both of his inside linebackers, Botts and Demetrius Green, to first-team All-SAC honors while Neumann was named to the second team.

Harrell coached Green to SAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2011, and the Bears led the league in total defense for the second straight season. On special teams, the Bears finished fourth in the country with an average of 17.4 yards per punt return and with a kickoff return average of 25.1 yards. Kicker Colin Corpe finished his career as the Bears’ all-time leading scorer.

Prior to Lenoir-Rhyne, Harrell coached the 2005 and 2006 seasons at Franklin (N.C.) High School where he headed up the linebackers and added defensive coordinator duties in 2006. Harrell was part of a Franklin team that was 22-4 over those two seasons, and his 2006 defense held opponents to just nine points per game.

Harrell also coached at Fuquay-Varina (N.C.) High School in 2004 and McDowell (N.C.) High School in 2003 following his first stint at Franklin High School from 2001-02.

Harrell graduated from Western Carolina in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and was a student assistant for the Catamount football team in 2000. He earned his MBA from Lenoir-Rhyne in 2012.

Harrell and his wife, Jessie, have one daughter, Kennedy.

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