Billy Napier named Ragin’ Cajuns head football coach
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Director of Athletics Dr. Bryan Maggard announced that Billy Napier will be the 26th Head Coach in Louisiana football history.
Napier comes to the Ragin’ Cajuns from Arizona State where he served as Associate Head Coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“We are absolutely thrilled to identify a Head Football coach with the experience and success that Billy Napier brings to the University of Louisiana,” Dr. Maggard said. “Coach Napier is highly respected within the coaching profession and brings tremendous experience from nationally-ranked programs. He is widely considered to be one of America’s top recruiters and offensive minds and will instill the values of a Championship program into Ragin’ Cajuns Football.”
“My family and I are excited and humbled for the opportunity to serve Cajun Nation and our Louisiana football program,” Napier said. “We will make it a priority to bring in the best talent from the state of Louisiana and the nation.”
Napier is widely respected in the coaching profession as one of the most talented recruiters in college football and has served as a wide receivers coach at Alabama (2013-17), the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach at Colorado State (2012) and was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Clemson (2009-10).
In his career, Napier has been instrumental in two National Championships at Alabama in 2011 and 2015 and has coached in 11 bowl games.
A press conference will be held Monday, December 18 at noon at the Cajundome.
Arizona State (2017)
Napier was recently named the Associate Head Coach under newly appointed ASU Head Coach Herm Edwards. In his first year with the program, Napier guided the Sun Devil offense to the 14th highest-graded offense in the FBS according to Pro Football Focus – including the 10th highest-graded passing attack in the nation. ASU was graded 54th in the nation in total offense last season and 86th in the passing game on the year. The offensive turnaround ( 40 positions) was the eighth-largest in the FBS and ASU was one of just three programs to move from outside the Top-50 to inside of it in just one season. The 76-spot swing in the passing game rankings was the third highest in all of the FBS (second among Power Five schools).
ASU developed one of the elite red zone scoring teams in the nation under Napier, tied for first nationally in converting on 95.83 percent of its red zone appearances (46-of-48) with the only two “blemishes” against the Sun Devils coming when the team took a knee late in the fourth quarter. ASU was 11th nationally in red zone touchdown scoring with 36 touchdowns on those 48 attempts (75.00).
Ball security was another notable facet of Napier’s offense. The Sun Devils turned the ball over just 11 times in 2017, which ranks 12th nationally after finishing 82nd in the country a year ago with 21 turnovers. ASU is 17th nationally with just five fumbles lost in 2017, and none of those have been by a running back. ASU’s six total interceptions this season are the 17th-fewest in the country with three of the six coming on tipped balls.
Alabama (2011, 2013-17)
Prior to Arizona State, Napier spent five seasons as the wide receivers coach at the University of Alabama. Napier served an integral role in achieving National Championships in 2011 and 2015 as part of the Alabama coaching staff and also coached in the 2016 National Championship game.
He was instrumental in helping Nick Saban and Alabama achieve a 63-7 record in five seasons (2011, 2013-2016) and was part of the great run of 26 consecutive wins from 2015-2016. In 70 games at Alabama, the Crimson Tide offense averaged 6.27 yards per play and 36.4 points per game.
In 2016, Napier’s wide receiver corps were led by junior ArDarius Stewart and sophomore Calvin Ridley. Ridley led the way with 72 receptions while Stewart had a team high 864 yards. Ridley added 769 yards and seven scores while Stewart caught 54 passes with eight scores. Graduate transfer Gehrig Dieter caught 15 passes for 214 yards and four scores while Cam Sims also hauled in 14 receptions for 152 yards.
Napier had to replace Amari Cooper in 2015 after the Tide’s career receptions leader was taken No. 4 overall in the NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Stewart, senior transfer Richard Mullaney and Ridley emerged as the Tide’s go-to receivers after Robert Foster was lost in the third game to injury. Ridley led the team with a freshman-record 89 catches for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns. Stewart added 63 catches for 700 yards and four touchdowns, while Mullaney had 38 catches for 390 yards and five scores.
Napier’s 2014 unit was led by Alabama’s first Biletnikoff Award winner in Cooper, who caught a school- and SEC-record 124 passes for a UA-record 1,727 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Cooper led the country in receptions (124), was second nationally in receiving yards (1,727), receiving touchdowns (16) and catches per game (8.9) while ranking third in yards per game (123.4). A Heisman Trophy finalist and unanimous first team All-American, Cooper smashed all of the Tide’s career receiving marks with 228 receptions, 3,463 yards and tied the SEC record with 31 receiving touchdowns. Senior DeAndrew White provided Alabama with a dangerous and reliable target opposite Cooper with 40 receptions for 504 yards and four scores.
In his first season as the Crimson Tide’s receivers coach in 2013, Napier built a deep and talented group of wide outs. Alabama had four players with at least 32 receptions, led by Cooper’s 45 catches for 736 yards. The wide receivers accounted for 72.1 percent of the passes caught in 2013 and 20 of the 30 passing touchdowns. Kevin Norwood produced a career year with seven touchdowns and 568 receiving yards on 38 grabs. Jones also caught 36 balls for 349 yards and White hauled in 32 catches for 534 yards and four scores.
Napier spent the 2011 season on the Alabama staff as an offensive analyst, helping the Crimson Tide win the 2011 BCS national championship. The Tide ranked 16th in scoring offense, 30th in total offense and 17th in rushing offense in 2011.
Colorado State (2012)
Prior to rejoining Alabama, Napier served as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at Colorado State in 2012 for former Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.
Injuries forced Napier to go deep down the bench looking for quarterbacks during his one season in Fort Collins. The Rams saw three quarterbacks play significant snaps as the starter with Garrett Grayson going down early in the season and M.J. McPeek following two weeks later, forcing redshirt freshman Conner Smith into action. The trio combined to throw for 2,520 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2012 as Colorado State won three of its final five games.
Clemson (2003-04, 2006-10)
Prior to his first stretch at Alabama, Napier spent seven of the previous eight years in two different stints at Clemson. During Napier’s final two seasons at Clemson he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. At the age of 29, he became the youngest coordinator in the nation and in Clemson history. In his first season as Clemson’s coordinator, the 2009 Tigers scored a school-record 436 points and collected 54 touchdowns (third-most in school history), averaged 5.73 yards per play (fourth best) and finished as the ACC Atlantic Division champions. Quarterback Kyle Parker was named a Freshman All-American and nine players Napier coached from 2009-10 went on to have careers in the NFL.
Napier also served as Clemson’s recruiting coordinator from 2006-08. In those three seasons, he compiled two top-25 recruiting classes, according to Rivals.com, and in 2008, his class was tabbed as the second-best in the nation by ESPN.com. Known to his peers as a top recruiter, Napier signed several players who went on to the NFL, including Kavell Conner, Crezdon Butler, Brandon Thompson and Marcus Gilchrist.
Napier was the 2007-08 tight ends coach at Clemson, helping lead the Tigers to two bowl games and a prolific offense. The 2007 season featured a 9-4 record and the ACC’s highest-scoring offense. In his first year back with Clemson (2006), Napier worked primarily with the Tigers’ tight ends but also was responsible for the punt team and assisted in several special-teams capacities. The 2006 Tigers led the ACC in total offense, rushing and scoring offense, advancing to the Music City Bowl.
Clemson averaged 410.9 yards per game and 32.7 points, more than doubling its opponent’s totals. Tight end Hunter Thomas started all 11 games for the Tigers, averaging 19.1 yards per reception. Michael Palmer, who Napier coached for three seasons, went on to the NFL. He also worked with the special teams units, helping develop one of the most talented players in Clemson history, C.J. Spiller.
Napier began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Clemson in 2003-04. The Tigers won nine games, including the Peach Bowl against Tennessee. The following season, Napier was a graduate assistant on defense, and gained his first experience with recruiting off the field.
South Carolina State (2005)
In 2005, Napier spent one season as the quarterbacks coach and play caller at South Carolina State. The Bulldogs finished the year 9-2 and ranked among the nation’s best in several offensive categories, including: rushing (12th), passing efficiency (15th) and scoring offense (17th). S.C. State also had the country’s fourth-best turnover margin, committing only 11 turnovers, roughly one-third of the total from the previous season (32). Napier developed Cleve McCoy and molded him into the MEAC Player of the Year. He also recruited offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath, who became a unanimous All-America selection and was drafted by the Detroit Lions.
As a player, Napier was a four-year letterwinner and two-time All-Southern Conference selection as the starting quarterback at Furman. The Paladins won two conference championships and in 2001, Napier’s junior year, advanced to the Division I-AA national championship game, losing to Montana.
He completed 64.8-percent of his career passes, setting a school record. As the team captain during a record-setting senior season, Napier amassed 2,475 passing yards, also a Furman record, and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding FCS offensive player.
Napier grew up in Chatsworth, Ga., and graduated from Murray County High School in 1998. He is married to the former Ali Gunn and the couple has a daughter, Annie, and sons, Sammy Nelson and Charlie. He earned his bachelor’s degree in health & exercise science from Furman in 2002.
Napier’s hiring is pending approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.
Napier At A Glance
Alma Mater: Furman, 2002
Hometown: Chatsworth, Georgia
Children: Annie, Sammy Nelson and Charlie
2017, Arizona State (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)
2013-2017, Alabama (Wide Receivers)
2012, Colorado State (Assistant HC/Quarterbacks)
2011, Alabama (Offensive Analyst)
2009-2010, Clemson (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)
2006-2008, Clemson (Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator)
2005, South Carolina State (Quarterbacks)
2004, Clemson (Defensive Grad. Assistant)
2003, Clemson (Graduate Assistant)
1999-2002, Furman University
Bowl Games – Coach
2016 BCS National Championship
2015 BCS National Championship
2014 Sugar Bowl
2013 Sugar Bowl
2011 BCS National Championship
2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl
2009 Music City Bowl
2008 Gator Bowl
2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl
2006 Music City Bowl
2003 Peach Bowl
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