Louisiana talent part of plan to build winner for Texas State’s Everett Withers

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Damien Williams, #12 for Texas State
Damien Williams (#12) for Texas State scored his first touchdown for the Bobcats in their season opening victory over HBU.

Everett Withers has spent the past 30 seasons in the coaching profession. He enters his second year as head coach at Texas State University in San Marcos.

The Withers resume’ includes stops in the NFL including with the New Orleans Saints as well as a stint as outside linebackers coach coach at Tulane. He was defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Ohio State. While with the Buckeyes, Ohio State set a school record with a 24-game winning streak and ranked second in the Big Ten with 14 interceptions.

His previous head coaching experience came at James Madison (2014-’15) and interim at North Carolina (2011). The overall head coaching record for Withers is 27-23.

The 54-year old Charlotte native looks to be a great fit to help lift the Texas State program to lofty heights in the Sun Belt Conference.

“In 30 years in the business, I’ve learned from some of the best coaches in the business — Jim Mora Sr., Greg Davis , Mack Brown, Jeff Fisher and Urban Meyer. I’ve taken a lot from those guys, tried to come up with my plan. Going into year two, we’re transforming our team in what I want it to be,” said Withers.

Despite the gap between Power 5 schools and the rest of college football, Withers recognizes key similarities in his college football travels.

“Your expectations , your culture, your program,” he said.” Every school in America can have a winning culture on Saturdays and leading up to Saturday. I’ve taken a lot of things from guys who I’ve worked for and used it for what I want to do, what we call ‘our path’.”

No matter where you coach, games can be won on defense and the Bobcats have some play-makers on that side of the ball. Withers is excited about potential there.

“We have a very young team, but I think the strength of our team are the linebackers,” said Withers. “Our linebacking corps is our strength this year.”

On the inside, 6-foot-2, 232 pound sophomore Bryan London was third in the FBS in 2016 with 141 tackles, including 8.5 for loss. Fellow inside linebacker Gabe Loyd (6-2, 232) is a seasoned senior who played well last season in totaling 102 tackles.

Withers recognizes the wealth of talent that resides in Louisiana, and he has struck oil as a recruiter in the Metro New Orleans area. Like every other college recruiter nationwide, he knows that high school players from here are well coached and possess a hunger to excel.

While he was an assistant coach at Southern Miss, Withers secured a prized recruit from the Crescent City who went onto brilliance in the NFL. Karr’s Patrick Surtain excelled as a cornerback.

Three locals on his Texas State roster are East Jefferson’s Elijah Rogers, St. Paul’s T.J. Bedford and Rummel’s Damian Williams, a graduate transfer quarterback from Mississippi State.

“That state has such rich high school football,” Withers noted. “We’re too close not to go dip our toe in the state for recruiting. We expect those guys to all be factors for us.”

“T.J. Bedford is a big, fast freshman (6-4. 195) at receiver. With Rogers, we’re fortunate to get him to be one of our tight ends. He helps make the position one of the strengths of our team.”

Williams (6-1, 215 earned a start on the road against Ole Miss as a freshman in 2013 and made 10 additional appearances for the Bulldogs including 93 yards rushing and a touchdown against LSU in 2016. As a freshman at Rummel, he led the Raiders to a state title game in 2009.

“Damian has played in SEC games,” Withers explained. “He’s been in games that count at a very high level. That truly matters. Kids look at him and say ‘here is a guy that’s been in some high level football games’. With his leadership, his competitive spirit. I expect him to compete and help lead our football team.”

In his first Bobcats start, Williams went 18 of 28 for 135 yards and ended up the team’s second leading rusher with 43 yards and a touchdown in a 20-11 season-opening victory against Houston Baptist last weekend.

The competition gets stiffer this week as the Bobcats travel to Folsom Field in Boulder to battle the Colorado Buffaloes.

Withers holds lofty but realistic expectations for his 2017 squad.

“I think we’re a better football program than we were a year ago,” Withers noted. “I don’t know if we’ll be a better team, but we’re a better football program.”

More importantly for a coach who was seen it all, pieces are beginning to fit their places for building a winning program long-term.

“We’re young, and 31 percent of our roster are freshmen. They’re going to be fun to watch,” said Withers. “They’re going to make mistakes, but hopefully we can grow. We want to grow from week one until the end of the season. We’re looking for growth, improvement and transformation.”

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Rene Nadeau

Rene Nadeau

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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