|Position:||Assistant Coach / Defensive Coordinator / ILBs|
|Alma Mater:||East Texas State|
John Wiley enters his third season as the defensive coordinator at Western Carolina, bringing his aggressive 3-4 defensive schematic and over 30 years of coaching experience to Cullowhee in December 2016. Wiley worked with WCU head coach Mark Speir at Appalachian State from 2003-09, five of those seasons on the defensive side of the football.
Wiley returned to the familiar mountains of western North Carolina after spending six seasons in the eastern part of the state at East Carolina. Before the move, he accepted an associate head coaching position at Texas State under former App State player, TSU head coach Everett Withers. Wiley resigned his position at Texas State prior to the 2016 season citing personal and family reasons, allowing him to join the Catamount staff.
Over his first two seasons, the Catamount defense has averaged over 20 takeaways including 23 turnovers that led to 89 points in the program’s seven-win season in 2017 as Wiley had an immediate impact for the resurgent Catamounts. Three WCU defenders landed on the 2017 All-Southern Conference team. A year later, linebacker Mitchell Chancey led the SoCon in tackles with 135 total stops, averaging 12.3 tackles per game in garnering All-SoCon honors.
All told, over the first two seasons, six WCU defenders have earned all-conference plaudits in Wiley’s system with two collecting All-Freshman honors. Marvin Tillman was also dubbed a postseason All-America selection in both 2017 and 2018.
During six seasons as the associate head and linebackers coach at East Carolina, Wiley was a part of helping guide the Pirates to four bowl game appearances and helped transform ECU’s defense into one of the nation’s top 40 units in two of his final three years. He was instrumental in producing six all-conference players including three first-team selections, a Freshman All-American, and a conference freshman of the year.
In 2014, the Pirates ranked among the top 11 in rushing defense nationally after allowing just 111.8 yards per game and giving up less than 100 yards over seven games. ECU was among the top 13 defenses in third-down percentage at 34.2 percent, 37th in passing efficiency (120.21), and total defense after giving up 367.3 yards per game.
Wiley also tutored Zeek Bigger and Brandon Williams, who were named the American Athletic Conference’s top linebacker duo in 2014 when they combined for 264 tackles. Bigger led the league with 140 stops and Williams finished with 124 as both players were named to the All-AAC teams.
A year earlier, ECU ranked among the nation’s leading rush defenses and led the conference after surrendering just 116.7 yards per game and less than 100 yards in six games.
Wiley’s All-Conference USA selections Bigger and Kyle Tudor also played pivotal parts in helping ECU stand among the country’s Top 20 units in red-zone efficiency defense with a No. 19 rating in 2013.
ECU was among the top 45 teams in rushing defenses in 2012 after improving 60 spots from the previous year. His linebackers also recorded four of the team’s 12 forced fumbles and Bigger was the team’s third-leading tackler with 77 stops. He also netted five batted passes -- the highest total for any member of the front seven in 2012.
In 2011, Jeremy Grove earned Freshman All-America honors from four publications and was selected the Conference USA Freshman of the Year after averaging 11.1 tackles per game and leading the Pirates with 122 stops.
Wiley directed walk-on Dustin Lineback to a 119-tackle season in 2010 after inheriting the position group. He also helped the Pirates implement a 3-4 defensive scheme that helped ECU to jump 64 places in the FBS total defense rankings after allowing 102.5 fewer yards than the 2010 campaign.
Wiley made the move to East Carolina after an illustrious stint as a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Appalachian State for a total of 19 years. There, he was the architect of the Mountaineer defense that played a key role in Appalachian State’s three NCAA FCS National Championships, and a total of seven Southern Conference championships under head coach Jerry Moore. App State also appeared in the FCS Playoffs 12 times during Wiley’s stay in Boone where he coached seven All-America defensive backs and 87 All-Southern Conference performers including 30 all-conference players in the secondary.
Five players who Wiley coached at App went on to be selected in the NFL Draft including Keith Collins (1990, San Diego Chargers), Gary Dandridge (1992, Seattle Seahawks), Matt Stevens (1996, Buffalo Bills), Corey Hall (2001, Atlanta Falcons), and Corey Lynch (2008, Cincinnati Bengals). Lynch also set the school’s career records with 31 interceptions and 52 passes defended under his tutelage. In 2008, Mark LeGree earned Consensus All-Southern Conference honors after breaking a 35 year-old record and tied the SoCon single-season record with 10 interceptions as a sophomore first-year starter. LeGree was later drafted by Seattle in 2011.
Wiley’s App State defenses also led the league in total defense in 2000 and 2006, and produced six Mountaineers who were named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year eight times – Dexter Coakley (1994-96), Josh Jefferies (2002), K.T. Stovall (2003), Marques Murrell (2006), Lynch (2007) and Jacque Roman (2008). Coakley was later drafted in the third round in 1997 by the Dallas Cowboys, and is one of just four Mountaineers to have their number retired in Boone.
Originally from Texas City, Texas, Wiley is a 1984 graduate of East Texas State where he was a three-year football letterman and part of the Lions’ 1983 Lone Star Conference championship. He got his start in coaching at Leander High School in Leander, Texas, before serving as a graduate assistant at the University of Texas where he was a part of the Longhorns’ Bluebonnet Bowl appearance in 1987.
Prior to returning to App State in 1993, Wiley served as a defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator at Iowa Wesleyan in 1991. Iowa Wesleyan ranked as high as No. 5 in the NAIA poll and advanced into the national playoffs. He also spent a season on the sidelines at Valdosta State in 1992 helping lead the team to final top 20 ranking at the NCAA Division II level.
Wiley is married to the former Kelly Ponder of Raleigh, who has a national championship of her own. She was a four-year member of the Appalachian State cheerleading squad, and was a part of the Mountaineer’s 1989 UCA national championship team. The couple has three children – daughter Megan and sons Jaxon and Lucas.