Aggie Football Camps
Defensive Coaching Staff
Defensive Coordinator / Defensive BacksSam Washington
Sam Washington is in his fourth season as the Aggies defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
He has established himself as one of the best defensive coaches in Division I-FCS. The Aggies’ improvement defensively under Washington is undeniable. The Aggies defense has never finished lower than eighth nationally in the three years under Washington. The run defense has never finished any lower than seventh in the nation. Over the past two seasons A&T’s pass defense has finished first and ninth respectively. A year before his arrival in 2011, A&T was ranked 89th in total defense, 114th in rushing defense and 78th in pass defense in the nation.
A year later found the Aggies ranked eighth in total defense, seventh in rush defense and 42nd in pass defense. In 2012, those rankings would be even more impressive. A&T led the MEAC in total defense, rush defense and were second in pass defense. Nationally, the Aggies had the No. 2 overall defense in addition to the No. 3 rush defense and the No. 1 pass defense. Last season the Aggies had the best rush defense in the nation, the ninth-best pass defense and they ranked fourth overall in total defense. His efforts have helped linebacker D’Vonte Grant become an All-MEAC player in addition to being a Jerry Rice Finalist.
In his role as the secondary coach, three players have enjoyed All-MEAC success, cornerbacks D’Vonte Graham and Justin Ferrell and strong safety Travis Crosby have all earned all-conference honors twice under Washington. Ayodeji Olatoye signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens after the 2014 NFL Draft. He also oversaw the successful position switch of Terence Webb from reserve quarterback to starting cornerback in 2011.
Before arriving at A&T, Washington spent four seasons as Grambling’s defensive backs coach under Broadway. Washington played a significant role in the Tigers’ dominating defense in 2007. Nationally, the Tigers ranked 12th in total defense. During the next season, Washington’s defensive backfield played a vital role in Grambling being one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country.
Grambling led the nation in turnover margin and were third in scoring defense. Defensive back Desmond Lenard returned one interception for a touchdown and was ninth in the nation in interceptions per game. Three other defensive backs ranked among the Top-50 in interceptions per game that season.
Before Washington came to Grambling, he spent five years at his alma mater Mississippi Valley State. Washington served as an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in addition to his customary role as the defensive backs coach. In his first season at MVSU, he transformed the Delta Devils defense from one of the worst defenses in the SWAC into the league’s No. 2 ranked defense.
Before returning to MVSU, Washington spent one season (2001) as A&T’s special teams coordinator under then head coach Bill Hayes. Under Washington, the Aggies had one of the best special teams seasons in school history. The Aggies led the nation in punt return yardage per game with punt returner Curtis Deloatch breaking the NCAA’s single-season record for punt return touchdowns. Punter Yonnick Matthews was second in the MEAC in punting.
Washington also spent eight seasons at N.C. Central as the school’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Led by All-American Buddy Crutchfield, Adrian Jones and current A&T assistant coach Trei Oliver in 1996, Washington put together one of the best defensive backfields in Division II as the Eagles went 8-3 with the best pass defense in the CIAA.
In 1992, he began work at Johnson C. Smith. He was named the assistant head coach. His other duties included being the defensive and special teams coordinator, the defensive backs coach and the head track and field coach.
Washington’s coaching profession also includes a stint with Bethune-Cookman (1987-92), where he helped the Wildcats take share of the 1988 MEAC championship. In 1998, he secured an internship with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers under legendary head coach Tony Dungy. Washington is no stranger to the NFL. He spent four seasons in the NFL with stops in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. As a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington intercepted at least one pass in five consecutive games during the 1984 season.
Washington earned a B.S., degree in physical education from MVSU in 1982. He was inducted into the MVSU Hall of Fame in 2006. He and his wife Donna have one son, Jarvis.
Inside LinebackersThomas Howard
Thomas Howard is entering his first season with the North Carolina A&T football program in 2015 and will serve as the inside linebackers coach.
Over the previous four seasons Howard was an assistant at the University of Findlay. He was the co-defensive and special teams coordinator during his time there. He also coached defensive backs for three seasons and linebackers for one. During the 2014 season, Howard coached the defensive unit to a total of 19 takeaways and 17 sacks. This was a year after Howard led the defense to a total of 19 takeaways and 35 sacks. The defensive unit was also stout on third down as they allowed their opponents to convert only 39 percent of the time.
In 2012, the Oilers defense recorded 23 sacks compared to only 14 the year before. They also forced 21 turnovers on the season.During the 2011 campaign, the Oilers forced 24 turnovers, eight more than the year before. Howard also got the opportunity to coach preseason All-American and current NFL safety Harold Jones-Quartey.
Howard came to Findlay after serving two years on staff at Lincoln University, ending as the interim head coach in 2010. While at Lincoln, Howard served as the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator. Howard’s defense finished 17th in Division II in pass defense during the 2010 season and finished first in total defense and turnovers caused in the GLFC Conference during the 2009 season.
Before his time at Lincoln, Howard coached for three seasons at Slippery Rock University as the linebackers coach. While there, Slippery Rock had one of the best defenses in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference as well as the nation.
Prior to his tenure at Slippery Rock, he was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Allen University. He also served one year as the assistant athletic director/compliance coordinator and two years as an academic adviser/recruiting coordinator at the school.
Howard played four seasons at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He served two seasons as team captain and earned the team’s most improved player award as a junior and defensive back of the year award in his senior season. He graduated cum laude in May 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development.
Defensive Line CoachCourtney Coard
Courtney Coard spent four seasons (2011-14) as North Carolina A&T’s defensive line coach. He departed N.C. A&T for one season in 2015 to become a defensive graduate assistant at the University of Georgia. He returned to Aggieland in 2016 to resume his duties as the Aggies defensive line coach.
Many of the defensive linemen he coached in 2014 still remain including All-MEAC performers Marquis Ragland and Angelo Keyes. The Aggies ranked 24th nationally in run defense and ninth in team sacks during the 2014 season. Ragland was third in the MEAC in sacks per game in 2014. The Aggies rush defense went from being ranked seventh nationally in 2011 to being ranked third in 2012 to being the best rush defense in the nation in 2013. Thanks to A&T’s defensive line play, the defense has also never finished lower than 16th nationally in total defense over the past five years.
In the addition to the outstanding play from Ragland and Keyes, walk-on defensive end Daniel Pinnix developed into one of the best pass rushers in the MEAC in 2013. Tyree Hearn steadily improved in three seasons as a starter for Coard. Hearn collected 20 tackles for loss and 7 ½ sacks in his last three seasons, earning a third-team All-MEAC selection 2013. Former defensive end Tony Mashburn also benefited from Coard’s teachings in 2011 and ‘12. In two years with Coard, Mashburn collected an impressive 22 ½ tackles for loss, 82 tackles and 11 sacks. Defensive tackle Chris Neal also had a career year during his senior season in 2012 with career highs in tackles (33), tackles for loss (9) and sacks (3).
Before coming to A&T, Coard coached defensive ends and assisted in coaching defensive tackles at Grambling under then head coach Rod Broadway. Coard assisted defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Cliff Yoshida in 2009 and ‘10. Coard helped the defensive line produce 7.8 tackles for loss per game. It helped the Tigers rank 15th nationally in tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Christian Anthony ranked 31st in the nation in sacks per game and finished 19thin tackles for loss. The following season, defensive lineman Antonio Leonard registered 1.2 tackles for loss per game.
Prior to his arrival at Grambling, Coard served as the defensive line coach at his high school alma mater Charlotte Independence. As a player there, Coard helped the Patriots win four straight state championships.
Coard was a four-year starter at defensive tackle for N.C. Central from 2004-07 under then head coach Rod Broadway. His presence helped the Eagles win consecutive CIAA titles in 2005 and ‘06. In 2004, he was named to the CIAA’s All-Rookie Team. Academically, Coard earned a B.A., degree in business management in 2008. Two years later, he received a M.S., degree in sports administration from Grambling.
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