Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina outside linebacker coach Justin Hood has been selected to participate in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) 2019 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute, presented by the AFCA and NCAA Leadership Development. The AFCA 2019 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute will take place on Sunday, January 6, at the AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Hood was selected as one of 35 assistant coaches nationally, chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants from all levels of NCAA football. He is joined by one other coach who spent the 2018 season in the Southern Conference in Justin Rascati, who was let go by Chattanooga head coach Tom Arth following the season.

Hood is the second current WCU assistant coach to receive the AFCA’s 35 Under 35 honor as wide receiver coach Tyler Carlton was recognized in 2017. He will be joined by a former Catamount assistant coach as former WCU running backs coach De’Rail Sims, currently at James Madison, was also selected.

Hood joined the WCU coaching staff in February of 2018 prior to the start of spring drills. WCU’s outside linebackers accounted for over 170 combined tackles including 17 tackles for loss with 7.5 sacks. Redshirt sophomore Michael Murphy finished third on the team – and eighth in the SoCon – with 92 total stops, 8.4 tackles per game, while also ranking tied for third in the league with team-best three interceptions and a SoCon-leading 128 return yards. WCU’s defense tallied 19 takeaways combined on the year including 12 interceptions and seven fumbles. Murphy scored two defensive touchdowns on the year including a 46-yard pick-six against VMI and scoop-and-scoring on a fumble return against The Citadel. Another WCU OLB in senior Jacquez Williams finished tied for the team lead with 8.5 tackles for loss in 2018.

Hood’s coaching resume includes stops at Davidson where he served as the interim head coach late in 2017 and defensive coordinator experience at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio. He also has stops at Power Five programs including the University of Oregon where he worked on the offensive side of the football, and at Illinois where he spent two seasons under former WCU assistant coach, Tim Beckman.

A 2008 graduate of Ashland University, Hood was selected as the Bill Walsh Intern with the New York Giants in August of 2013, adding to his extensive coaching background.

In order to be eligible, applicants had to be born on or after January 1, 1984, and must be currently serving as a high school head coach, two-year college full-time assistant or head coach, or NAIA/NCAA (all divisions) full-time or head coach. Applicants were required to submit a resume, five references, and a 1,600-word article or five-minute live instructional video on an Offensive, Defensive, Special Teams, or position-specific topic of the applicant’s choosing.

The AFCA 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute is a prestigious program aimed at identifying and developing premier, future leaders in the football coaching profession. Selected participants are invited to attend the one-day institute that features a curriculum of interactive lectures focused on topics specifically tailored to emphasize leadership in the coaching profession, ethics, influential responsibilities, career progression, and family balance.

Members of the AFCA 2019 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute receive a stipend to assist with expenses incurred while attending the AFCA Convention, provided by the NCAA Leadership Development and the American Football Coaches Foundation. They will be published in the bi-monthly AFCA Magazine, AFCA Insider weekly email blast, and/or have their articles added to the AFCA Educational Library; placed on the AFCA Foundation Committee; and become a part of the great network of rising coaches in the profession along with many other great benefits.

2019 AFCA 35 Under 35 Participants

Ola Adams, Villanova University, Special Teams Coordinator/Cornerbacks

Shawn Bell, Baylor University, Offensive Line

Tyler Bowen, Penn State University, Tight Ends

Bryan Brown, Appalachian State University, Defensive Coordinator/Cornerbacks

Shane Fidler, Waccamaw HS (SC), Head Coach

Joe Jon Finley, University of Missouri, Tight Ends

Erik Frazier, Western Illinois University, Wide Receivers

Kory Gribbin, University of Akron, Tight Ends/H-Backs/Assistant Special Teams Coordinator

Gino Guidugli, University of Cincinnati, Quarterbacks

Chris Hampton, Tulane University, Defensive Backs

Todd Hartley, University of Miami (Fla.), Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends

Nick Hill, Southern Illinois University, Head Coach

Justin Hood, Western Carolina University, Outside Linebackers

Tyler Hopperton, Mount St. Joseph University, Head Coach 

Collin Klein, Kansas State University, Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

Jordan Langs, Indiana Wesleyan University, Head Coach

Kelly Ledwith, Santa Monica College, Head Coach

Brennan Marion, College of William & Mary, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

Taylor Mazzone, University of Arizona, Outside Receivers

Eman Naghavi, University of Louisiana-Monroe, Offensive Line

Bryan Nardo, Emporia State University, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

Jake Olsen, Northwestern State University, Safeties/Recruiting Coordinator

Tim Plough, University of California-Davis, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

Justin Rascati, Formerly at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Former Offensive Coordinator

Doug Samuels, Ravenna HS (MI), Head Coach

Nate Scheelhaase, Iowa State University, Running Backs

Joshua Schumacher, Concordia University-Chicago, Head Coach

Kyle Segler, University of Louisiana-Monroe, Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends

Austin Silvoy, Middle Tennessee State University, Wide Receivers

De'Rail Sims, James Madison University, Running Backs

Josh Stepp, Georgia State University, Tight Ends

Patrick Toney, University of Louisiana, Safeties

Scotty Walden, University of Southern Mississippi, Wide Receivers

Demario Warren, Southern Utah University, Head Coach

Jake Waters, University of Texas-El Paso, Inside Wide Receivers