College football: UTSA hires LSU assistant Frank Wilson as head coach
SAN ANTONIO — UTSA named Frank Wilson as its new head football coach on Friday. Wilson, who has 20 years of coaching experience and helped lead teams to eight bowl games, widely is regarded as one of the nation’s top college football recruiters.
In early January, UTSA retained Collegiate Sports Associates, a prominent sports consulting firm, to conduct an extensive national search for candidates and UTSA President Dr. Ricardo Romo appointed a university committee led by Athletics Director Lynn Hickey to recommend finalists for the position. Romo made the final selection after interviewing those candidates.
“Coach Wilson is an impressive leader who has the passion and vision to take UTSA football to the next level,” Romo said. “In our first five years of football, we have made great gains because of the tremendous support from our community. Coach Wilson is the ideal person to harness that momentum and keep UTSA moving forward.”
“Frank Wilson is an energetic and enthusiastic coach who will be a great leader for our student-athletes,” Hickey said. “His hire is a coup for UTSA and the city of San Antonio and I know our fans are going to be excited.”
Wilson is coming off a successful six-year stint as LSU’s assistant head coach/running backs and recruiting coordinator. He was vital to the Tigers' success both on and off the field, helping them post four seasons of at least 10 victories, while also annually orchestrating one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.
Wilson engineered signing classes that ranked among the nation's top 10 five times, including the second-rated class in 2014. He was named as the 2014 NFL.com Top Recruiter In College Football and 2011 Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com.
On the field, Wilson annually developed and managed an LSU backfield that featured some of the best young players in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Under Wilson’s guidance, the Tigers recorded 45 100-yard rushing games and produced four 1,000-yard individual rushers. LSU also has seen six of its running backs selected in the NFL Draft since Wilson joined the staff in 2010.
This past season saw Leonard Fournette lead the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with 162.8 rushing yards per game en route to consensus All-America honors. In 12 games of action, he finished the year with the nation's third-best total with a program-record 1,953 yards on 300 carries (6.5 avg.) and his 22 rushing touchdowns ranked fourth nationally. The Tigers averaged 256.8 rushing yards per contest, a figure that led the SEC and was seventh in the FBS.
In 2014, Wilson managed a backfield that consisted of two seniors in Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard, along with a pair of true freshmen in Fournette and Darrel Williams. The end result saw the Tigers rank fourth in the SEC in rushing with 225 yards per game and Fournette led the way with an LSU freshman-record 1,034 yards and 10 TDs. He went on to earn Freshman All-SEC honors, while the Houston Texans selected Hilliard in the seventh round of the NFL Draft.
The 2013 campaign saw sophomore Jeremy Hill earn first-team All-SEC honors after racking up 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns and he later was picked in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. As a unit, LSU rushed for 202.3 yards per game, as four players produced at least 300 yards on the ground, and a school-record 37 scores. Magee was second on the team with 626 yards and eight touchdowns, Alfred Blue racked up 343 yards and one score and Hilliard produced 310 yards and seven TDs. Blue was chosen in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Texans, giving LSU two running backs picked in the same draft for the first time since 2003.
Hill burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2012, running for 755 yards and a dozen scores. LSU averaged 173.7 yards rushing per game with Hilliard (464 yards/6 TDs), Michael Ford (392 yards/5 TDs) and Spencer Ware (367 yards/1 TD) joining Hill in the backfield for the bulk of the carries. Ware, who opted to leave LSU following his junior season, was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
I n 2011, LSU’s backfield consisted of three sophomores and a true freshman and the Tigers averaged 202 rushing yards and tied a school record with 35 rushing touchdowns. Ford led the group in 2011 with 756 yards and seven TDs, followed by Ware's 707 yards and eight scores. For the first time in school history, LSU’s backfield featured four running backs who each accounted for at least seven rushing TDs, as Ware and Hilliard had eight, while Ford and Alfred Blue added seven.
The 2010 season saw junior Stevan Ridley rush for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first season as a starter on his way to earning first-team All-SEC honors. Ridley, who opted to forgo his senior season, went on to be picked in the third round of the NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
Wilson, a native of New Orleans, La., joined the LSU staff after spending the 2009 season at Tennessee, where he coached wide receivers.
Prior to joining the Volunteers, Wilson spent the 2008 campaign at Southern Miss as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. He also served as running backs coach and special teams assistant at Mississippi from 2005-07.
In his second year with the Rebels, Wilson’s primary pupil, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, finished third in the SEC in rushing with 83.2 yards per game en route to first-team All-SEC accolades. Under Wilson’s tutelage, Green-Ellis finished the season with 1,000 yards and later became a 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL with the Patriots.
Wilson joined the Ole Miss staff after serving one year as director of athletics for the New Orleans (La.) Public School System.