Head Coach
Mike Houston

Mike Houston, who guided James Madison to successive NCAA FCS Championship Game appearances and one national title, was named head football coach at East Carolina University in December of 2018.

The Franklin, N.C. native owns an 80-25 record and a combined six conference championships in eight seasons as a head coach. Houston signed a five-year contract and will be formally introduced as the Pirates' 22nd head coach at a 10 a.m. press conference Tuesday inside the Murphy Center.

His acceptance of the ECU position officially ended a three-year tenure as the Dukes' head coach. Houston guided JMU to a 37-6 three-year record, which included three NCAA FCS postseason appearances (2016 National Champions, 2017 National Runner-Up, 2018 second round) and a pair of Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championships.

The Dukes recorded consecutive 14-1 seasons in 2016 and 2017, which was a school record for single-season victories. JMU won a CAA and program-record 26-straight games between the two seasons, which ranks second all-time in FCS history. The Dukes sported a 15-3 ledger against Top 25 teams during Houston's three seasons, claimed a 34-14 victory over the Pirates in 2017 and hosted ESPN's College GameDay twice in three years.

Houston, who was named the 2016 AFCA FCS National and 2016 CAA Coach-of-the-Year, mentored 15 All-America selections including 2017 Consensus FCS player Andrew Ankrah, 44 All-CAA honorees (23 first-teamers) and five conference player-of-the-year winners (one offense, two defense, two special teams).

Houston led the Dukes to the 2016 NCAA Division I FCS Football Championship with a 28-14 win over No. 13 Youngstown State. In 2017, JMU made a return trip to the national title game before falling 17-13 to No. 2 North Dakota State. His final game as the Dukes' head coach ended with a 23-20 setback at No. 9 Colgate during second round action of the FCS Playoffs on Saturday.

Possessing 13 years of collegiate coaching experience, including eight as a head coach, Houston arrived in Harrisonburg, Va. after serving two years as head coach at The Citadel (2014-15). He led the Bulldogs to a 14-11 record in his two seasons and is the only coach in The Citadel's history to win a Southern Conference championship within his first two seasons.

In 2015, he guided the Bulldogs to the program's fourth winning season since 1995 with a 9-4 record and a share of the 2015 SoCon title. The Citadel boasted a conference-best +117 scoring margin, including a +100 edge during league play, and Houston went on to be named SoCon Coach-of-the-Year and AFCA Region 2 Coach-of-the-Year. They also defeated Southeastern Conference member South Carolina 23-22 in the regular-season finale and advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs after upsetting ninth-ranked Coastal Carolina.

In the first-round playoff victory, Houston's run game broke a school record with four 100-yard rushers as it piled up 524 yards on the ground, the most in a NCAA playoff game since 2012 and the second-highest in 2015 for FCS, only behind the Bulldogs' nation-best 535 rushing yards in the season opener.

Prior to The Citadel, Houston spent three seasons as the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne, an NCAA Division II school in the South Atlantic Conference. He accumulated a 29-8 record at the helm and directed the Bears to three consecutive SAC championships, a stretch that included a school-record 13 wins in his final year.

Houston was named SAC Coach-of-the-Year each season and was also the Don Hansen Super Region II Coach-of-the-Year in 2013. In his final season at LRU, the Bears advanced to the Division II national championship game and earned a No. 2 national ranking in the final polls.

Before his elevation to head coach, Houston served as Lenoir-Rhyne's defensive coordinator and secondary coach from 2007-10 and spent the 2006 year as associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Brevard College.

Houston is a 1994 graduate of Mars Hill University, where he played tight end for the Lions and earned a bachelor's degree in biology. In 2014, Houston was inducted into the Franklin High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

He is married to the former Amanda Owen and they have two sons, Owen Michael and Reid Wilson.

Special Teams Coordinator / Bandits
Toy Tesh

Tesh’s hiring ends a two-year stint at James Madison University where he served in the same role for the Dukes. Last season, he directed the efforts of a special teams unit that stood among the FCS leaders in punt returns (second/21.31 ypp), kick return defense (third/14.30 ypp) and kick returns (37th/21.96 ypp). He mentored five special teamers to all-conference honors with D’Angelo Amos (punt return) and Robert Carter, Jr. (specialist) garnering first-team accolades.

Ethan Ratke (17 o 19 FGAs, 35 PATs) and Tyler Gray (6 of 8 FGs, 15 PATs) drilled a combined 23 field goals and connected on all 50 point after attempts for a total of 119 of the Dukes 441 points.

In 2018, the Dukes allowed 14.6 points and 289.5 total yards per game while ranking among the national leaders (Top 25) in 11 statistical categories including defensive TDs (seventh/four), scoring defense (seventh/14.6 ppg), total defense (seventh/289.5 ypg), rush defense (10th/104.4 rypg), passing efficiency defense (15th/109.9), third down conversion defense (17th/30.9 pct.), first down defense (22nd/194 yards), passing yards allowed (22nd/185.1 yppg), turnovers gained (22nd/23), interceptions (23rd/14) and sacks (23rd/2.77 spg).

In his initial year with the program, JMU’s special teams was one of the best in the Colonial Athletic Association in nearly every area. The Dukes led the CAA and ranked fourth in the FCS in punt return defense (3.33) and was 10th in punt return average (13.0). They were also ninth nationally in net punting (38.8) and top 30 in kickoff returns (21.8).

He coached two players to All-CAA status, which included John Miller being named CAA Special Teams Player-of-the-Year. In addition to Miller’s first-team honor, punter Harry O’Kelly was voted as a second-teamer.

Amos and Miller were the CAA’s top-two punt returners, as they averaged 15.8 and 11.7 yards per return, respectively. O’Kelly was second in the league in punting (41.3) and Ratke ranked second in the CAA in field goals (14) and fourth in percentage (.778). JMU’s combined 23 field goals between Ratke and Gray was well ahead of every other CAA squad.

In 2016, The Citadel finished 10-2 overall and won the Southern Conference title for the second-straight year with a perfect 8-0 record. It set multiple school records, including a record 10-game win streak. The Bulldogs also set a program mark for most road victories in a season, with six, and turned in the SoCon’s seventh perfect conference record in 84 years to earn the No. 6 overall seed for the playoffs.

The Bulldogs’ defense ranked seventh nationally in pass defense and eighth in in total defense, allowing just 302.7 yards of offense per game. They led the conference with 2.5 touchdowns allowed per game (30), and were second with 28 sacks, tied for the third-highest single-season total in school history.

Tesh’s defensive line was led by First-Team All-SoCon performer Joe Crochet, who additionally was named a Second-Team Academic All-American honoree. He also directed Ken Allen to second-team all-conference honors. As a unit the defensive line recorded 24.5 sacks, which accounted for 88 percent of the team’s 28 total sacks, and 49 tackles for loss, which was more than 50 percent of the team’s season total.

During the 2015 season, The Citadel were co-champions of the SoCon behind a then-school-record-tying six conference wins. The Bulldogs finished 9-4 to advance to the FCS playoffs for only the second time in school history. The Bulldogs had a +117 scoring margin, including +100 in SoCon play, and earned the program’s first road playoff win in a 41-38 triumph at Coastal Carolina.

The Bulldogs’ defense led the FCS with a school-record 515 interception return yards and five interception return touchdowns. The Citadel also led the Southern and ranked third in FCS with 20 interceptions, the third-highest single-season total in program history, and with 31 turnovers forced. Under Tesh’s tutelage Mitchell Jeter was named SoCon Defensive Player-of-the-Year and earned All-America status, while Mark Thomas was a second-team all-league choice and Allen was all-freshman team selection. In his first year in 2014, Jeter earned second team all-conference accolades.

Prior to his arrival at The Citadel, Tesh spent the previous six seasons with Houston at Lenoir-Rhyne, where he coached the running backs in 2008 and oversaw the defensive line from 2009-13. He was part of L-R’s 2013 team that advanced to the NCAA Division II national championship game after leading the South Atlantic Conference in total defense, rushing defense, sacks and scoring defense.

Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks
Donnie Kirkpatrick

Donnie Kirkpatrick returns to East Carolina University after spending three seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at James Madison University. Kirkpatrick, who served as an assistant head coach, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for the Pirates from 2005 to 2015, was officially named ECU’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Dec. 7, 2018.

In his three years with the JMU program, he led one of the top offenses in the FCS, including a record-breaking 2016 campaign that resulted in JMU winning the NCAA Division I national championship. The Dukes won a pair of Colonial Athletic Association titles and made three-straight FCS postseason appearances (2016 National Champions, 2017 National Runner-Up, 2018 second round).

Last year, Kirkpatrick led an offense that averaged 406.9 yards per game and ranked nationally (Top 20) in four statistical categories completion percentage (second/67.4 pct.), first down offense (eighth/279 yards), third down percentage (13th/45.6 pct.) and scoring offense (18th/33.9 ppg). Quarterback Ben DiNucci, a Third-team All-CAA selection, stood third in the county in completion percentage (68.3), 27th in passing efficiency (139.4) and points responsible for (152), while ranking 36th in passing yards (2,275). He accounted for 25 touchdowns (16 pass, 9 rush) and tallied 2,708 yards of total offense (2,275 pass, 433 rush).

In 2017, JMU’s offense was Top 25 in five categories, including third in first downs (325). The Dukes were also ninth in completion percentage (64.9 pct.), 15th in scoring offense (34.4), 22nd in pass efficiency (142.46), 25th in rushing offense (194.3) and 30th in total offense (419.0).

JMU quarterback Bryan Schor completed his career as one of the most decorated in school history. Schor, who was voted the CAA Chuck Boone Leadership Award winner, was a Second Team All-CAA selection who threw for over 3,200 yards and 26 touchdowns while ranking in the Top 10 in the FCS in completion percentage (65 pct.).

Kirkpatrick brought 32 years of collegiate coaching experience to Harrisonburg, including three as a head coach. Prior to his hiring at JMU, he spent the past 11 seasons at ECU, where he served as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, as well as the assistant head coach for the 2015 season.

During his tenure managing the Pirate receivers from 2005-15, he produced six first-team all-conference (Conference USA, American Athletic Conference) selections, two all-rookie team choices, an Associated Press All-America pick, a league most valuable player award, an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision career record and three NFL draft picks.

He helped lead ECU to back-to-back C-USA championships in 2008-09 and eight bowl appearances, including wins in the 2007 Hawai’i Bowl against Boise State and the 2013 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl against Ohio.

In 2014, Kirkpatrick concluding his tutoring of Justin Hardy, who set an NCAA career record with 387 career receptions on his way to being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Formerly a walk-on, Kirkpatrick coached Hardy to ECU rookie records of 64 receptions and 658 yards in 2011.

The 2010 season saw ECU’s receiving corps reach greater heights, as Harris was named C-USA MVP after setting then-single season and career records at ECU for receptions (101/268) and reception yardage (1,123/3,001).

In his short time at the helm of the Mocs’ football program, Kirkpatrick orchestrated one of the top aerial attacks in Southern Conference history, ranking first in passing offense (339.1) and total offense (453.5) in his initial season in 2000. His offensive units followed that up by ranking third in passing in 2001 (192.7) and second in 2002 (220.4).

Before being named head coach, he was offensive coordinator at Chattanooga for two years (1998-99), years which saw the offense lead the SoCon in passing (326.5) and total offense (454.4) in his final season before taking over the head coaching job.

Kirkpatrick spent three seasons on Ron Cooper’s staff at Louisville (1995-97), where he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He began the development of Chris Redman, who was a third-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and one of the top passers in school and C-USA history. He coached with Cooper for two seasons at Eastern Michigan (1993-94), handling wide receivers the first season before being promoted to assistant head coach, a role in which he led the quarterbacks and running backs. He worked directly with then-rookie Charlie Batch, a second-round draft selection by the Detroit Lions. He went on to play 15 years between Detroit and the Pittsburgh Steelers and win two Super Bowls.

His initial two coaching stops included South Carolina (1989-92) and Appalachian State (1984-1988).

Assistant Coach- Outside Receivers
Drew Dudzik

Drew Dudzik was hired at East Carolina University on Dec. 7, 2018 as an assistant coach working with the outside receivers. With his hire, Dudzik officially ends a three-year stint a James Madison University where he served in the same role.

Dudzik mentored a pair of receivers in Riley Stapleton (62 for 710 yards, 7 TDs) and Jake Brown (38 for 455 yards, 2 TDs) that combined to grab 100 passes for 1,165 yards and nine scores. Stapleton, who was the third player under Dudzik’s tenure to have 700 yards receiving, ranked 43rd nationally in receiving TDs, 64th in receptions per game (4.7) and 65th in receiving yards to lead all JMU pass catchers.

The Dukes’ offense that averaged 406.9 yards per game and ranked nationally (Top 20) in four statistical categories completion percentage (second/67.4 pct.), first down offense (eighth/279 yards), third down percentage (13th/45.6 pct.) and scoring offense (18th/33.9 ppg).

In 2017, Dudzik’s unit combined for 172 receptions for 2,311 yards and 15 touchdowns. He coached Terrence Alls to his second straight all-conference season, as he was a Third-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection. Alls recorded 55 receptions for a team-high 710 yards and two touchdowns, marking the second consecutive season a JMU player surpassed 700 receiving yards.

Four of JMU’s outside receivers tallied more than 400 receiving yards. Riley Stapleton and David Eldridge each had 42 catches, combining for over 1,100 yards, and Ishmael Hyman reached more than 400 yards. Stapleton led the team with five receiving touchdowns, while Eldridge and Hyman both had four.

In 2017, JMU’s offense ranked third nationally in first downs (325), ninth in completion percentage (64.9 pct.), 15th in scoring offense (34.4), 22nd in pass efficiency (142.46) and 30th in total offense (419.0).

In his first season working with the receivers, he coached three players to all-conference status, with one earning All-America accolades. Rashard Davis set the CAA record and led the country with four punt returns for a touchdown en route to earning First-Team All-America honors and being voted the CAA Special Teams Player-of-the-Year.

He and Brandon Ravenel both earned First-Team All-CAA accolades, while Alls was a third-team all-conference pick in 2016. Following the year, Davis was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles to a free-agent contract and won Super Bowl LII as a member of the practice squad.

JMU’s offense set several conference records in 2016, including scoring (700), total offense (7,612) and first downs (380). The Dukes paced the FCS in completion percentage (70.8 pct.) and first downs (380), as the passing efficiency from quarterback Bryan Schor to his receivers proved to be the best in the country.

Dudzik’s receivers produced a program-first during that year, as the group produced the first season ever with four receivers tallying at least 500 receiving yards. Ravenel led the group with 720 receiving yards, good for ninth in JMU single-season history, while Domo Taylor, Alls and Davis each surpassed 500. JMU’s receivers accounted for 19 of the team’s 34 passing touchdowns.

Dudzik returned home to JMU where he was a four-year letterwinner and guided the Dukes to one of the biggest wins in program history as a player. He spent the previous two seasons at Duke, where he served as graduate assistant and football operations assistant, working primarily with the receivers.

In his two years with the Blue Devils, they won 17 games and were champions at the 2015 New Era Pinstripe Bowl with an overtime win over Indiana. This past season, Duke's offense was third-best in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense (439.4) while ranking fifth in scoring (31.5) and passing offense (246.5). T.J. Rahming was Freshman All-America selection after making a Duke rookie-record 40 receptions for 522 yards. In 2014, Jamison Crowder was a First Team All-ACC pick after making 85 catches for 1,044 yards and six touchdowns.

A native of Clifton, Va., Dudzik played in 37 career games at JMU, which included him being the full-time starter his senior year. He passed for 1,925 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 728 yards and 10 scores during his career. On Sept. 11, 2010, Dudzik and the Dukes rallied from a nine-point, second-half deficit to stun FBS foe Virginia Tech. In that game, Dudzik passed for 121 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 35 more and the game-winning 12-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Dudzik graduated from Madison in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in sport and recreation management and earned his master’s degree in sports leadership before becoming one of only 10 college graduates throughout the U.S. selected to work with the Cisco Sales Associate Program.

He graduated from the program in 2013 and became an Account Manager for the 2013 fiscal year. In 2013 he also coached running backs at Cardinal Gibbons High School before joining the Duke staff in 2014.

Assistant Coach- Cornerbacks
Brandon Lynch

Brandon Lynch is in his third season on the ECU staff following his appointment on January 15, 2017.

After directing the entire Pirate secondary during his first campaign, his focus moved solely to the cornerback position in 2018.

During his first year at ECU, Lynch had direct oversight of two of the top three tacklers on the Pirates' unit as safeties Korrin Wiggins (first) and Devon Sutton (third) racked up 96 and 68 stops each, respectively.

His acceptance of the position on the Pirates' staff concluded four years of service at Northern Iowa where he directed the secondary since 2013 and was the program's associate head coach for defense during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

While coaching the Panthers' defensive backs, Lynch played a key role for a 2016 unit that statistically ranked among the NCAA FCS level's Top 25 in defensive touchdowns (5th), total defense (9th), passes intercepted (12th), first down defense (13th), rushing defense (16th), team sacks (18), turnovers gained (21st) and scoring defense (23rd) by allowing only 22.0 points per game.

A year earlier, Lynch developed three of his secondary members into All-America performers, including consensus selection and Chicago Bears fourth-round draft choice Deiondre' Hall. Bolstered by Hall's school record for pick-sixes, UNI stood third nationally in turnovers forced and 13th in passes intercepted, while rating 16th in scoring defense.

Lynch mentored three All-Missouri Valley Football Conference picks in 2014 and helped the Panthers rank among the FCS's Top 15 in eight different statistical categories, including a No. 9 rating in total defense. Two of his players, Tim Kilfoy and Ray Mitchell, led the MVFC in interceptions and established a program career standard in interception return yards, respectively.

During his first year at Northern Iowa, Lynch tutored another trio of all-conference selections and assisted in a final No. 8 rank in scoring defense.

After earning an invitation to travel to Dallas and participate in the NCAA and NFL Coaching Academy in 2012, Lynch was selected for inclusion in the prestigious NFL Bill Walsh Minority Internship where he worked with defensive backs under the direction of former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier. He began his full-time coaching career as Lenoir-Rhyne's (N.C.) defensive backs coach and pass game coordinator in 2011 before making the move to UNI.

As a collegiate and professional player, Lynch was part of three championship squads. The two-year team captain helped Middle Tennessee to its first Sun Belt Conference title in 2001 before going on to play in the National Football League with the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. After being a member of the 2007 Super Bowl champion Colts under coach Tony Dungy, Lynch signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and contributed in their successful quest for the Grey Cup.

Lynch, 35, earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from MTSU in 2006.

He and his wife Francesca are the parents of three children - daughters Jordan and Peyton, along with son Brandon II.

Assistant Coach- TE's / Inside Receivers / Recruiting Coord.
Fontel Mines

Fontel Mines begins his first year at East Carolina University as an assistant coach working with the tight ends, inside receivers and serving as the program’s recruiting coordinator. His Dec. 7, 2018 appointment ends a two-year stint at James Madison University, where he worked primarily with the inside receivers.

During the 2018 season, Mines mentored a receiving and tight end group that combined to catch 102 passes for 1,272 yards and seven TDs. Dean ranked among the Top 100 in receiving TDs (88th/five) and receiving yards (97th/614), while Dylan Stapleton led all JMU tight ends with 19 receptions for 182 yards.

The Dukes’ offense that averaged 406.9 yards per game and ranked nationally (Top 20) in four statistical categories completion percentage (second/67.4 pct.), first down offense (eighth/279 yards), third down percentage (13th/45.6 pct.) and scoring offense (18th/33.9 ppg).

Prior to the 2018 season, Mines was named the program’s recruiting coordinator.

In his first season with the program, his inside receivers combined for 73 receptions for 795 yards and nine touchdowns. John Miller, who was named Colonial Athletic Association Special Teams Player-of-the-Year, led the unit with 35 receptions for 393 yards and a touchdown, and Clayton Cheatham was one of the leading freshman in the CAA, with four receiving touchdowns on eight catches and 137 yards.

In 2017, JMU’s offense ranked third nationally in first downs (325), ninth in completion percentage (64.9 pct.), 15th in scoring offense (34.4), 22nd in pass efficiency (142.46) and 30th in total offense (419.0).

A native of Richmond, Va., Mines was no stranger to JMU and the CAA, having spent the previous five seasons at Richmond, as well as three months at Delaware.

During his time with the Spiders, he coached both wide receivers (2012-13, 2015-16) and tight ends (2014), helping guide the team to three straight FCS playoff appearances, including a berth in the 2015 national semifinals. Richmond set nearly every passing record during his tenure with the program, turning in one of the nation’s best offensive units in terms of scoring and total offense. He additionally served as Richmond’s director of high school relations.

Mines coached three-time All-American Brian Brown, who finished his career in 2016 as UR’s all-time leader in every statistical category for a receiver and the eighth-most total yards by any player, with 4,203 career yards. As a senior, Brown set program records for receiving yards (1,485) and receiving touchdowns (11), en route to his third-straight season earning All-CAA and All-America honors. He was a finalist for the Bill Dudley Award and also named the best pass-catcher in the state by the Touchdown Club of Richmond.

Under Mines’ tutelage, three Spiders earned professional contracts with Ben Edwards (New York Giants), Reggie Diggs (Washington Redskins) and Brian Brown (Dallas Cowboys) each signing free agent deals following their collegiate careers. Five Richmond receivers earned multiple All-CAA accolades while he was with the program.

Prior to Richmond, Mines spent the 2011 season at Division II Chowan in North Carolina. He guided Robert Holland to CIAA Offensive Player-of-the-Year honors after he set every Chowan receiving record, as well as the CIAA and NCAA Division II career receptions record (325). As a senior, Hollan caught 69 passes for 943 yards and scored 13 total touchdowns. He was later drafted by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

He began his coaching career in 2010 at Hermitage High School in Richmond, where he was a standout high school player. He additionally participated in the Minority Internship with the Washington Redskins during the 2015 preseason and coached in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl later that year.

A 2007 graduate of Virginia, Mines was a four-year letter winner for the Cavaliers (2003-06) where he starred as a wide receiver. He made 20 starts recording 68 receptions for 737 yards with five touchdowns. After earning his degree in anthropology, Mines played four years in the National Football League as a tight end for the Chicago Bears before transitioning to coaching.

Assistant Coach- Offensive Line
Steve Shankweiler

Steve Shankweiler returns to East Carolina for his fourth stint as the offensive line coach, a position he began on Dec. 7, 2018. He brings more than four decades of coaching experience to Greenville, including 36 at the NCAA Division I level and 20 as an offensive coordinator.

His hire officially ends a one-year stint at James Madison University where he also coached the offensive line unit. While with the Dukes, he mentored a pair of all-conference linemen in Liam Fornadel (second-team) and Mac Patrick (third-team) that helped the offense average 33.9 points and 406.9 yards per game, while ranking nationally (Top 20) in four statistical categories completion percentage (second/67.4 pct.), first down offense (eighth/279 yards), third down percentage (13th/45.6 pct.) and scoring offense (18th/33.9 ppg).

The duo protected third-team all-conference selection Ben DiNucci, who stood third in the county in completion percentage (68.3), 27th in passing efficiency (139.4) and points responsible for (152), while ranking 36th in passing yards (2,275). He accounted for 25 touchdowns (16 pass, 9 rush) and tallied 2,708 yards of total offense (2,275 pass, 433 rush).

Prior to JMU, Shankweiler spent a season at NC State, where he was a defensive analyst. In that capacity, he analyzed opponents’ offenses to help the defensive staff and student-athletes prepare game plans.

Prior to his year-long stint with the Wolfpack, he spent four seasons at FIU (2013-16), where he was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. In his time with the Panthers, they set the single-season rushing record in 2016 behind all-time rushing leader Alex Gardner. The year prior, FIU produced the second-most passing yards and third-highest scoring average.

Shankweiler was a three-year offensive line coach at USF (2010-12) under Skip Holtz and in 2011, despite the loss of three seniors, the Bulls led the Big East in both rushing and fewest sacks allowed.

Most notably, Shankweiler has served three separate five-year runs at ECU, spanning three decades. The last was as an offensive line coach and coordinator from 2005-09 and was also the OC from 1987-91. He was also the offensive line coach from 1998-02. The Pirates played in seven bowl games during his time in Greenville, which included their historic 1991 season in which they won the Peach Bowl and finished the year ranked ninth – a program record.

Shankweiler has also had collegiate stops at South Carolina (2004 – OL Coach) under legendary coach Lou Holtz, Cincinnati (2003 – OL Coach), Georgia Tech (1992-94 – OC/OL Coach), Western Kentucky (1984-86 – OC/OL Coach) and The Citadel (1980-83 – DL Coach/OL Coach/Special Teams).

Additionally, he spent three years as a high school head coach in Georgia between his stops at Georgia Tech and ECU the second time. Shankweiler was head coach at Glyn Academy High School for one season (1995) before moving on to Griffin High School, where he led the football program and was the athletic director for two years (1996-97).

Shankweiler began his coaching career in the 1970s in Georgia, as he was the offensive line coach at Avondale High School (1974-75) and head coach at Redan High School (1976-79), where he won the Georgia state championship in 1979.

A six-time football and track letterwinner, Shankweiler graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College in 1974. He was an All-Southern Conference honoree and captain of the track program his senior season. He later earned his master’s degree from Georgia State in 1980.

Shankweiler and his wife Patti have two daughters, Lori and Jennifer, and a son, Kort.

Assistant Coach- Running Backs
De'Rail Sims

De’Rail Sims is in his first season as running backs coach at East Carolina University, officially joining the Pirate staff on Dec. 7, 2018.

A 2019 AFCA selection in the prestigious 35 under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute, which aims at identifying and developing premier, future leaders in the football coaches profession, Sims comes to ECU after overseeing James Madison’s run game the past three seasons.

The Dukes’ offense netted 2,383 rushing yards a year ago and averaged 183.3 yards per game, which stood fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association and 45th nationally. Cardon Johnson led the group with 657 yards and five touchdowns, while Trai Sharp (550 yards, 4 TDs) and Marcus Marshall (446 yards, 6 TDs) combined for nearly 1,000 yards and 10 scores to pace an offense that ranked 18th in the country in scoring (33.9 ppg).

In 2017, the Dukes were 25th nationally with 194.3 rushing yards per game. A pair of running backs earned postseason honors as Sharp was named Third-Team All-CAA and Marshall garnered all-state accolades after a strong postseason.

The team ran for 2,914 yards, with 2,501 coming from JMU's running backs. Marshall led a balanced rushing attack with 874 yards and a CAA-leading 11 touchdowns, while Sharp had 759 yards and four scores. Three others ran for over 250 yards.

The Dukes turned in a pair of 400-yard rushing performances, including 472 against Norfolk State, which produced seven rushing touchdowns. The Dukes also ran for 410 yards and four scores in the season-opening win at FBS-foe ECU. JMU had five games with at least three rushing scores and four games over 250 yards.

In his first season with the Dukes, the running game proved to be one of the nation’s best, as it broke the CAA single-season record with 4,125 rushing yards. JMU ranked second in the FCS in scoring (46.7), fourth in third-down conversions (50 pct.), fifth in rushing average (275.0), sixth in fumbles lost (4) and eighth in turnover margin (1.13).

The Dukes produced 18 100-yard rushing performances from the strong rushing attack, including a team-high 11 from All-American running back Khalid Abdullah.

Under Sims’ tutelage, Abdullah turned in one of the best individual seasons in JMU rushing history. Finishing eighth in the final voting for the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award, Abdullah rushed for 1,809 yards and 22 touchdowns, setting program single-season records in both categories. He also broke records for scoring (150) and total touchdowns (25) in 2016, while becoming JMU’s all-time leader in career rushing touchdowns (41), total touchdowns (45) and career scoring (270). He capped his career with the second-most rushing yards by any Duke in history, at 3,678.

Following the season, the first-team all-conference running back was named American Sports Network FCS National Player-of-the-Year. He recorded the 15th and final 100-yard game of his career in the national championship game, as he was named the Most Outstanding Player after scoring twice in JMU’s triumph over Youngstown State.

Sims came to Harrisonburg from Western Carolina, where he spent three years at as the running backs coach and director of player development (2013-15). During his time with the Catamounts, he helped the program to back-to-back winning seasons. WCU's ground game improved each season Sims was on staff, as the team combined to rush for 4,016 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016.

He led a pair of running backs to All-Southern Conference accolades as Detrez Newsome was a first-team selection in 2015 and an All-Rookie pick in 2014, while Darius Ramsey was a second-team honoree in 2014. Ramsey was also a 2014 Capital One Academic All-American. Prior to the 2015 season, Sims added the player personnel position to his duties, as he handled most of the team’s community service initiatives.

Also during the offseason following the 2014 season, Sims was selected to attend the prestigious NCAA and NFL Coaches Academy put on by the NCAA Leadership Development staff and National Football League Player Engagement.

Prior to WCU, Sims coached the running backs and additionally served as the video coordinator at Division II power Carson-Newman for one season (2012). He helped the Eagles to a 9-3 record and a berth in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals. Sims coached one All-America back in Brandon Baker after he rushed for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns. The C-N rushing attack led Division II, averaging nearly 380 yards per game and 52 touchdowns on the ground. The 52 rushing scores were the most by any school across all NCAA divisions.

A native of Union, S.C., Sims was a two-year starter at Pikesville, where he played from 2006-08. He began his collegiate coaching career in 2009 at Pikesville as a student assistant, working with the outside linebackers. Sims graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science.

Assistant Coach- Inside Linebackers
Byron Thweatt

Byron Thweatt, whose 14 years of experience includes three FCS Championship Game appearances, a pair of national titles and a FBS bowl victory, officially joined the ECU staff as inside linebackers coach on Dec. 21.

His hire officially ends a one-year stint at Marshall where he helped the Thundering Herd to a 9-4 overall record and a win in the 2018 Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. As linebackers coach, Thweatt mentored All-Conference USA selection Chase Haddock to a team-best and league seventh-most 98 tackles (37 solo), while fellow linebacker Frankie Hernandez tallied 69 stops and ranked fifth nationally with three fumble recoveries.

Marshall’s defense stood among the Top 20 regular season national leaders in seven statistical categories, including sacks (seventh/3.17 pg), rush defense (10th/105.3 ypg), 3rd down defense (15th/32.1 pct.), defensive TDs (16th/three), fumbles recovered (17th/11), 4th down defense (19th/40.9 pct.) and turnovers gained (20th/23).

Prior to arriving in Huntington, Thweatt spent two years as linebackers coach at James Madison where he helped the Dukes advance to back-to-back FCS title games, a national championship in 2016, two Colonial Athletic Association crowns and a 28-2 combined record. During the 2017 campaign under current ECU Defensive Coordinator Bob Trott, JMU led the country in scoring defense (11.1 ppg), interceptions (31), takeaways (44) and pass efficiency defense (83.12 rating).

The Dukes also stood third nationally at the FCS level in total defense (252.0 ypg), turnover margin (+1.47) and defensive touchdowns (five), while ranking fifth in sacks (3.40 pg), seventh in rushing defense (90.5 ypg), eighth in fumble recoveries (13) and 10th in both passing defense (161.5 ypg) and 3rd down defense (30.1 pct.).

Thweatt coached Kyre Hawkins (first-team) and Brandon Hereford (third-team) to All-CAA honors, while Hawkins also earned All-America honors by HERO Sports. The duo were two of the team’s top five tacklers combining for 176 stops with 18.0 TFLs and 11 sacks.

In his first season with the Dukes, he was part of a defensive turnaround that resulted in a No. 8 FCS ranking in turnover margin (+1.13), a No. 17 standing in scoring defense (21.2 ppg) and a No. 30 showing in total defense (344.3 ypg).

His inside linebacker corps was led by All-CAA standout Gage Steele, who led the squad with 104 total tackles and stood fourth in TFLs (6.5) and sacks (2.5).

Thweatt came to Harrisonburg from Virginia State where he spent the 2015 season as head coach of the NCAA Division II program. He led the Trojans to a 6-4 record and a third-place finish in the CIAA Northern Division in his lone season with the team.

Thweatt spent eight overall campaigns at Richmond (2007-14), most recently coaching inside linebackers and handling director of high school relations duties the last two years after serving as recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach, defensive tackles coach and as a defensive staff assistant with the Spiders. In all Richmond posted a 67-35 record during his stay, which included three 10-plus win seasons, four FCS playoff appearances and the 2008 FCS National Championship.

Thweatt began his collegiate coaching career after a pair of one-year stints as a graduate assistant at Richmond (2005) and alma mater Virginia (2006).

The four-year letterman was also a two-year captain who started 47 games for the Cavaliers, a then school-record for linebackers. As a senior he garnered Football News Honorable Mention All-America honors and was a finalist for the Bill Dudley Award after recording 125 tackles, which is tied for 11th on Virginia’s single-season charts.

Thweatt, a four-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, closed his collegiate career tallying 387 tackles (246 solo) which currently stands sixth all-time in program history.

After college, he spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans of the National Football League as well as playing in NFL Europe.

Thweatt and his wife, Mieya, have three daughters, Brianna, Bryce and Bralyn.

Director of Player Personnel and Recruiting
JP Gunter

J.P. Gunter is in his first season as ECU's director of player personnel and recruiting, a position he accepted on Jan. 7, 2019.

Gunter's arrival in Greenville follows a nine-year stay at The Citadel, which included eight full-time seasons coordinating the program's special teams and recruiting efforts. In 2015, he helped the Bulldogs capture their first Southern Conference championship since 1992 and earn a subsequent FCS Playoff appearance during Houston's final year as head coach before following with another title and postseason showing in 2016.

In all, Gunter's recruiting leadership provided The Citadel with 58 All-SoCon selections, seven All-America performers and two league defensive player-of-the-year nods. In the classroom, three of his recruits earned Academic All-America distinction. In addition to actively recruiting a six-state area (South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Texas), Gunter was responsible for coordinating all of the Bulldogs' summer prospect and youth camps.

After initially joining The Citadel staff as a graduate assistant quality control analyst working with the special teams unit in 2010, Gunter later held coaching assignments with the Bulldogs' wide receivers and A-backs. He spent the previous year as the offensive line coach, running game coordinator and special teams coordinator at Pikeville (Ky.) College, where he recruited student-athletes from eight states.

Gunter began his coaching career at alma mater Lenoir-Rhyne in 2007 as a graduate assistant offensive line and tight ends coach before serving as the Bears' outside linebackers coach, camp coordinator and academic liaison a year later.

A four-year letterman at LR from 2003-06, Gunter started at center for three seasons, served as a team captain and was an All-South Atlantic Conference selection.

A native of Irmo, S.C., Gunter earned his bachelor's degree in sports management with a minor in business administration in 2007. He completed his graduate certification in sports administration from The Citadel in 2011.

Gunter and his wife, Megan, have one son, Turner.