New Mocs Football Coach Tom Arth Assembling His Staff
(Gomocs.com) University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach Tom Arth has hit the ground running since he was named the 23rd head coach of the Mocs on Dec. 19. He has put together the majority of his staff, and they are all preparing for the upcoming live recruiting period, evaluating the current team and getting settled in at UTC.
“Assembling a staff was one of the most important things, and it started when I first got the call and found out that this was a potential opportunity,” stated Arth. “I reached out to people and put together a good pool of guys who were interested in coming here.
“The biggest thing for me is the type of person that they are and the type of people we want to have representing the University and working with our players. That is everything to me.”
Two members of the previous staff will stay on with the Mocs. Running backs coach Shawn Bryson remains with the program and enters his third season at Chattanooga. An eight-year NFL veteran, Bryson coached Derrick Craine to back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns the last two years.
“Shawn has an incredible background as a player and was someone we targeted if he was willing to stay,” added Arth. “The first day I got here and had a chance to sit down with him, I could see how important his family was to him and how important his players were to him. He has great ties in recruiting and is a great person to be on our staff.”
Former UTC All-American Kadeem Wise (’13) also returns as the Director of Operations. A four-time All-Southern Conference defensive back for the Mocs, Wise just finished his first season in the role.
“Kadeem was the one guy in this whole process who came so highly recommended by everyone in the athletics department,” said Arth. “He knows this place as well as anybody and our team as well as anybody. The fact that he played here means the world to me. That is my background and there is something special about that.”
The following are newcomers to the staff who have been offered and accepted positions at UTC. Their final hiring approval is pending university background checks, but they are already prepping for the 2017 season.
Justin Rascati – Offensive Coordinator
Brandon Staley – Defensive Coordinator
Nick Hennessey – Offensive Line
Brian Cochran – Defensive Line
Matt Feeney – Linebackers
Chris Hurd – Tight Ends/Special Teams
Justin Rascati joins the Mocs after spending last year as the offensive coordinator at Tennessee Tech. He helped the Golden Eagles to their first winning record in OVC play since 2011 (5-6, 5-3 OVC). Rascati also coached receivers at UT Martin (2014-15) and quarterbacks at Weber State (2012-13). He won an FCS National Championship at Finley Stadium as the quarterback for James Madison in 2004.
“I got to know Justin through Dave Ragone, who is the quarterbacks coach with the Chicago Bears,” said Arth. “Justin has an incredible resume and has done it at this level. He has great recruiting ties in the South and we are just thrilled to have him.”
Brandon Staley was Arth’s defensive coordinator at John Carroll the last two seasons and is a finalist for the 2016 FootballScoop NCAA Division III National Coordinator of the Year. He oversaw a JCU side that finished in the top 5 in DIII in total defense (3rd, 218.0 ypg) and scoring defense (4th, 12.6 ppg). Among his previous coaching stops is one year as a defensive graduate assistant at Tennessee in 2012.
“Brandon and I have worked together in the past,” added Arth. “He was the first defensive coordinator I had a John Carroll in 2013. He went to James Madison in 2014 and then came back the last two years. I have learned so much about defense, and football in general, from Brandon. He is the best that I know.”
Staley is one of four new coaches coming with Arth from John Carroll University. Nick Hennessey is another who is taking over UTC’s offensive line. Hennessey was an All-American at Colgate (2005-08) before playing for the Buffalo Bills in 2009. He had stints in the CFL and UFL before coaching stops at St. Lawrence and Western Michigan. The 2016 campaign was his first at John Carroll.
“Nick really changed the way we played up front at John Carroll,” stated Arth. “It was one area that we knew we needed to improve and you could just tell there was something impressive about him. He builds great relationships with his players and is so detailed in his preparation. He does so well at teaching the fundamentals and has an incredibly high ceiling.”
Brian Cochran spent the previous 10 seasons at John Carroll in various positions that included defensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and defensive coordinator. He is a member of JSU’s Hall of Fame after an All-American career from 1986-89 and will coach the Mocs’ defensive line. Prior to his stint at JCU, he was the head coach at Heidelberg University from 2003-06.
“Brian and I have worked together for a number of years,” said Arth. “He has great experience in a lot of areas and is one of the hardest-working people I have ever been around. He became the recruiting coordinator at John Carroll in 2010 and that is really when our program changed. He put in place a very detailed and systematic approach to recruiting and players started showing up.
“Our defensive line was the heart and soul of our team at John Carroll and Brian coaches the defensive line as well as anybody I have ever seen.”
Matt Feeney just finished his third season as JCU’s linebackers coach, where he had at least one all-conference performer each year. He was an All-OAC linebacker during his playing career at John Carroll (2010-13) and will coach Chattanooga’s linebackers.
“Matt is one of the sharpest young guys in coaching,” said Arth. “He was an All-American and player of the year in our conference at John Carroll and then volunteered as a coach for us. He coached our inside linebackers and turned them into all-conference and all-region players. He is a great person and an excellent recruiter who relates so well to the players.”
Chris Hurd joins the Mocs after three seasons as the Special Teams Coordinator and Tight Ends coach at Florida Atlantic. He will have that same role at UTC. A former linebacker at North Texas (2000-03), Hurd has also coached at his alma mater and worked at both Tennessee and Arkansas.
“This is the first time I have had a chance to work with Chris,” said Arth. “We truly feel like he is one of the best special teams guys in the country. He is incredibly detailed in his preparation and that is important to us.”