Willie Mack Garza joins McNeese football coaching staff

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LAKE CHARLES – McNeese football head coach Frank Wilson has announced the hiring of veteran coach Willie Mack Garza who will join the defensive side of the ball and coach the safeties.

With more than 20 years of college coaching experience, Garza has had previous Division I coaching stints at USC, Tennessee, TCU, Wyoming, Lamar, Prairie View, North Dakota State and Western Michigan and stops at then-D2 schools North Dakota State, Dixie State and Tarleton State.

“Willis Mack is a guy who brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff,” said Wilson. “He’s been in big game situations, coaching in national championships and in the SEC. He has a calm about him and fits in with our staff very well. He doesn’t have a big ego, is selfless and works relentlessly. He cares about the well-being of the student-athletes.”

While at Tennessee, he was on a coaching staff that also employed Wilson.

Prior to coaching safeties at Wyoming in 2019, Garza coached at Dixie State in St. George, Utah for the 2017 and ’18 seasons. He served as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Dixie State in 2018 after serving as the defensive pass-game coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2017. Following the 2018 season, he was hired as the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Texas A&M Commerce in January of 2019, prior to accepting his new position with the Cowboys.

Prior to Dixie State, Garza spent the 2016 season as the cornerbacks coach at Lamar University, and in 2015 he coached the linebackers and served as special teams coordinator at Prairie View A&M.

Garza coached two seasons, 2013 and 2014, at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss., where he served as the team’s defensive coordinator. During his time at Pearl River, Garza helped develop one of the nation’s top defensive units. PRCC ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense and 10th in pass defense.

He coached the defensive backs at the University of Southern California for one season in 2010. Prior to his stint at USC, Garza spent 2009 as the defensive backs coach at Tennessee. The Volunteers ranked 12th nationally in both fewest passing yards allowed and pass defense efficiency as they finished second in the SEC East and made an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Before moving to Tennessee, Garza spent four years (2005-09) at North Dakota State as the secondary coach for one season and the defensive coordinator in his final three. He served on the staff of current Wyoming head coach Bohl at NDSU during a period when the Bison were transitioning from the NCAA Division II level up to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level where they would become the dominant program in FCS.

The season prior to his four-year run at NDSU, Garza coached the secondary at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, in 2004. That season was preceded by three seasons coaching the cornerbacks at TCU from 2001-03. During his time with the Horned Frogs, Garza coached two-time All-Conference cornerback Jason Goss, who tied the school single-season record with eight interceptions in 2002. TCU captured the 2002 Conference USA Championship and played in bowl games all three seasons that Garza was on the coaching staff. The Horned Frogs appeared in the 2001 Gallery Furniture.com Bowl in Houston, won the 2002 AXA Liberty Bowl in Memphis and played in the 2003 PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl, which is now known as the Armed Forces Bowl

Garza’s first full-time college coaching position came at Western Michigan from 1997-2000. WMU achieved a 9-3 record in 2000, ranked No. 13 in the nation in pass defense and played in the Mid-American Conference Championship game.

He began his coaching career at the University of Texas, his alma mater, as a graduate assistant working with the cornerbacks and special teams for three seasons from 1994-96 under head coach John Mackovic. The Longhorns went 8-4 in 1994 and won the Sun Bowl; posted a 10-2-1 record in 1995 and played in the Sugar Bowl; and were 8-5 in 1996, won the inaugural Big 12 Championship Game and played in the Fiesta Bowl.

As a college player, he was a four-year starter at cornerback and safety at Texas for the 1988, ’90, ’91 and 92 seasons under then head coach David McWilliams. Garza was named a Freshman All-American and the Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year in 1988. The Longhorns went 10-2 in 1990 and played in the Cotton Bowl at the end of the season.

Garza was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 2001. He enjoyed a stellar prep career at Refugio High School where he earned Parade All-America, All-State and All-Decade (1980-1990) honors. In his senior season in 1987, Garza rushed for an amazing 2,954 yards and scored a then national record 56 touchdowns (336 total points). In addition to football, Garza was a track and field standout at Refugio, running the 100, 200 and a leg on the 400-meter relay and was one of the state’s top long jumpers. Refugio High School won the Texas 2A Boys State Track and Field Championship his junior year of 1986-87, and was the State Runner-up for the 2A State Football Championship his senior season of 1987.

He received his bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Texas in 1993.

Willie Mack Garza’s Coaching Experience
2021, McNeese, Safeties
2019, Wyoming, Safeties
2019, Texas A&M Commerce, Defensive Secondary
2018, Dixie State, Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Secondary
2017, Dixie State, Defensive Secondary
2016, Lamar, Cornerbacks Coach
2015, Prairie View A&M, Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator
2013-14, Pearl River C.C. (Miss.), Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Secondary
2010, USC, Defensive Secondary
2009, Tennessee, Defensive Secondary
2006-08, North Dakota State, Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Secondary
2005, North Dakota State, Defensive Secondary
2004, Tarleton State, Defensive Secondary
2001-03, TCU, Cornerbacks
1997-2000, Western Michigan, Defensive Secondary
1994-96, Texas, Graduate Assistant Coach

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