Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina head football coach Mark Speir has announced the addition of veteran assistant coach Keith Henry to his staff. Henry, who will coach the nickelbacks and serve as special teams coordinator, has nearly three decades of coaching experience at all levels of football including 18 seasons at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Henry joins the WCU coaching staff after most recently working at Charlotte with stops at his alma mater, Catawba College (2013-16) for four seasons, and Wake Forest (2001-2011), where he was a part of five different postseason bowl games over 11 years. He replaces former Catamount assistant coach Justin Hood who took an assistant coaching position in the secondary at FBS-member, Kent State.

“We are very excited about the addition of Keith Henry to our coaching staff,” said Speir. “Keith brings a ton of experience and knowledge to our program, coaching for 20+ years at the FBS level and at Power 5 schools. He has recruited the Carolina’s for most of his career and has an established reputation with the high school coaches in both North and South Carolina. He has also been charged with taking over the special teams coordinator duties, which is a vital part of any program. Keith has been heavily involved in special teams in every stop of his coaching career.”

Speir added, “Finally, Keith spent a good deal of his coaching career working with Jim Grobe, who is one of the finest and most respected men in the profession. So, he certainly understands our culture of developing men both on and off the football field.”

Henry served as assistant head coach at Catawba for four seasons and was the Indians’ defensive coordinator while coaching the defensive backs. Back in 2015, Catawba’s defense produced All-America linebacker Kyle Kitchens, who was named South Atlantic Conference (SAC) and region Defensive Player of the Year as the Indians won the SAC championship. The Henry-led defense forced 28 takeaways including a league-leading 11 interceptions while also ranking second in the NCAA Division II ranks with a mere 15.8 points per game allowed.

Prior to returning to his alma mater, Henry spent 17 years on the coaching staff of Jim Grobe between both Ohio University and Wake Forest. He was a six-year assistant at OU under Grobe, making the move to Winston-Salem with the Bobcats staff. During his 11 years at Wake Forest, Henry served as special teams coordinator in 2011 and also coached the outside linebackers, defensive ends, and defensive backs.

He helped the Demon Deacons to five bowl games while on staff including the 2007 Orange Bowl after the 2006 ACC Championship. Over a three-year stretch from 2006 through 2008, he helped Wake achieve a remarkable 28-12 record and three-consecutive bowl game appearances.

While at Ohio, Henry was a part of helping post a 27-20-1 record in the Mid-American Conference over a six-year run.

Other coaching stops in Henry’s career include a three-year stint at North Carolina A&T, a year as the defensive backs coach at Charleston Southern, and a season as a graduate assistant at Gardner-Webb. Henry also interned during the summer with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013, serving as an assistant with the inside linebackers during training camp and into the preseason.

A 1989 graduate of Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., with a degree in physical education, Henry was an All-America safety, four-time All-SAC selection, and a two-year team captain that garnered the Harvey Stratton Player of the Year award. He graduated with a then-school record 398 career tackles and 20 combined interceptions. Henry went on to play professionally in the Arena Football League, spending single years as at wo-way player – wide receiver and defensive back – with the Albany Firebirds (1990) and the Charlotte Rage (1991).

Henry was a prep standout at Maiden High School and began his coaching career at Bandy’s High School after graduating from Catawba. He earned his master’s degree in athletic administration from North Carolina A&T in 1995 after spending three seasons on staff at NC A&T as the linebackers, wide receivers, and defensive backs coach during his time in Greensboro.

In 2000, Henry was inducted into the Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame and in 2001, was inducted into the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame. He also coached baseball at North Carolina A&T, winning a MEAC title and conference Coach of the Year honors in 1994.

Henry and his wife, Nicole, have four children: Kirstie Foster, K.J. Henry, Maya Henry, and Isaiah Henry as well as two grandchildren: Makhi and Malachi.

Western Carolina plans on opening its 2019 Spring Drills, presented by Wells Fargo, next week following the University’s Spring Break.