Lafayette, LA (ULL) - New head football coach Mark Hudspeth named most of his 2011 football staff on Saturday, as announced by the Ragin' Cajuns athletic department.
Hudspeth has hired eight of his nine coaches and a director of football operations.
"The staff is put together of not only outstanding coaches, but also outstanding recruiters," Hudspeth said. "Every one of these coaches has been highly successful and all of them are very well respected in the coaching community.
"I expect these coaches to push and demand a lot from our players this spring."
The defensive staff is complete, led by defensive coordinator Greg Stewart. Stewart, who will also coach the linebackers, is a coaching veteran of over 20 years. He has 18 years of experience on the Jacksonville State football staff, with 11 seasons as defensive coordinator for the Gamecocks.
Stewart turned the Gamecocks into the most dominant defense in the Ohio Valley Conference, continuously ranking among the conference leaders in fewest points and yards allowed. In 2010, Stewart's defense helped JSU gain national attention with their upset victory at Ole Miss.
David Saunders will serve as the Cajuns cornerbacks coach and assistant recruiting coordinator. He had three stints at Ole Miss, the last beginning in April 2010. During his first employment at Ole Miss, which began in December of 1998, Saunders established an acclaimed recruiting program and was lauded as one of the top nine recruiters in the nation by Tom Lemming of ESPN.com.
Saunders also has head coaching experience, serving as the head football coach of Millsaps College from 2003-05.
Mike Pelton will coach the Cajuns defensive linemen after spending last season at Vanderbilt. He was at Iowa State from 2007-08 under head coach Gene Chizic and served six years on the staff at Troy from 2001-06, including the final two years at co-defensive coordinator.
At Troy, Pelton worked with current Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Demarcus Ware and current New York Giants All-Pro Osi Umenyiora.
Current Cajuns defensive assistant Tim Rebowe stays on the staff, but moves from linebackers coach to safeties. Rebowe originally joined the Cajuns in 2004 as the safeties coach - a position he occupied for four seasons. The Cajuns pass defense had a stellar first year under Rebowe in 2004, finishing with a No. 11 national ranking in passing yards allowed. Both of Rebowe's starting safeties advanced to the NFL. Strong safety C.C. Brown (101 tackles) was drafted by the Houston Texans in the 2005 NFL Draft and free safety Antwain Spann, who signed as a free agent with the New York Giants, played in NFL Europe and several seasons with the New England Patriots.
In 2005, the Cajuns pass defense was 23rd nationally, allowing only 190 yards per game despite opponents facing an uphill climb in eight games. The Cajuns trailed after three quarters just twice in 2005.
The coaching staff is in the midst of their busiest recruiting period of the year, leading up to National Signing Day on Wednesday, February 2.
"All of these coaches expressed an interest in being part of UL and the local community," Hudspeth continued. "I know they are looking forward to getting their families here soon."
Jay Johnson has been named the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Johnson spent the 2010 year as Central Michigan's quarterbacks coach, helping young sophomore Ryan Radcliff post one of the top passing seasons in school history. Radcliff completed 282-of-466 passes for 3,358 yards and 17 touchdowns and ranked ninth nationally in both total passing yards and yards per game (279.8) and 11th in completions (23.5 per game).
Johnson came to CMU from Louisville, where he spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Prior to Louisville, Johnson was at Southern Miss for five seasons, including three as offensive coordinator (2005-07). The Golden Eagles made five consecutive bowl game appearances during Johnson's time on staff. In 2007, Southern Miss set a school record with 5,066 yards of total offense. The Golden Eagles ranked in the top 25 nationally in rushing in 2006 and 2007, gaining more than 2,000 yards on the ground each season.
Mitch Rodrigue will be the Cajuns running game coordinator and offensive line coach.
Rodrigue, a veteran of more than 20 years of coaching at the collegiate level, comes to UL after three years on the South Alabama coaching staff working with offensive tackles and tight ends.
Prior to his arrival at South Alabama, Rodrigue spent the previous nine seasons at Southern Miss, where he coached the offensive line (2003-07), tight ends (2000-02) and running backs (1999). During his tenure, he was a valuable member of the staff, not only on the field, but also as a recruiter, as he was named one of the Top 10 recruiters from a non-BCS conference by Rivals.com in 2006.
From 2003-07, Rodrigue worked directly with Johnson at USM.
Rodrigue also coached several seasons at Nicholls State (1993-98), serving as tight ends and offensive line coach, as well as offensive coordinator during his time with his alma mater. His stay at Nicholls State coincided with two members of the current Cajuns coaching staff. Hudspeth coached the Colonels wide receivers, tight ends and running backs from 1994-95 and Rebowe was the Colonels defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator from 1995-98.
Marquese Lovings joins the Cajuns as the running backs coach. He spent three seasons with the Mississippi State football program, the last as the defensive graduate assistant where he worked on the staff with Hudspeth.
A graduate and former player at Howard University, Lovings also has high school coaching on his resume. He earned his M.S. in Sports Administration from Mississippi State in 2008 and pursued a doctorate at MSU.
Reed Stringer will serve as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Most recently, Stringer served as the offensive player development coach at Clemson in 2010.
Before his time with the Tigers, Stringer spent seven seasons at Mississippi State in a variety of roles. He began as a graduate assistant with the Bulldogs offense, primarily working with the offensive line from 2003-2004. Stringer was then named the tight ends and special teams coach from 2005-08. He took over as the coordinator of recruiting operations at Mississippi State for head coach Dan Mullen in 2009. Stringer coached alongside Hudspeth during the 2009 season for the Bulldogs.
Considered to be a relentless and effective recruiter, Rivals.com rated Stringer among the "SEC's Top 10 Recruiters" for 2009.
Troy Wingerter will remain on the Cajuns football staff under his fourth different head coach. He moves from his role as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator to director of football operations.
Wingerter started his career with the UL athletic department in 1997. He was the tight ends coach as a graduate assistant from 1997-99 under former coaches Nelson Stokley and Jerry Baldwin.
Wingerter coached the defensive ends in 2001 under Baldwin and served in the role of tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator from 2002-10 under head coach Rickey Bustle. Wingerter was named Bustle's assistant head coach for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Wingerter helped develop the tight ends from a frequent red zone target for Cajuns quarterbacks to a legitimate weapon in the UL offense. Cajuns tight ends made 160 receptions for 2,283 yards with 22 touchdowns from 2008-10.
In 2010, tight end Ladarius Green was one of just eight semifinalists for the prestigious Mackey Award. He was a First Team All-Sun Belt selection, a First Team All-Louisiana pick and garnered Second Team All-American honors by CBSSports.com and Fourth Team All-American accolades by Phil Steele.
The lone vacancy on the staff remains at wide receiver. Hudspeth hopes to hire a receivers coach in the next few weeks.