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Speir Continues to Build Assistant Coaching Staff

Curtis Walker (Photo courtesy of Coastal Carolina Athletics)

Jan. 25, 2012

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina first-year head football coach Mark Speir continues to build his coaching staff, today announcing the addition of former Coastal Carolina defensive coordinator Curtis Walker and Pat Mills from Concord University to his inaugural staff. Walker will serve as the linebackers coach for WCU, while Mills, who played in 47 games on the offensive line at Appalachian State, will work with the Catamount tight ends.

Walker comes to Cullowhee after serving the past 10 years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Coastal Carolina, while Mills earned a year of coaching experience last season as the tight ends coach at Concord University in Athens, W.Va.

"We are very excited about both Curtis Walker and Pat Mills joining us on staff here Western Carolina," said Speir. "Curtis brings a lot of championship experience to Cullowhee after spending the past 10 years as Coastal Carolina University's defensive Coordinator. He is well-respected as a talented recruiter, and has directed defenses that have produced championships."

"Pat Mills will bring tons of energy and passion to the program. He is going to be a great coach that the players will love. He is a great person, teacher and coach," Speir added.

The duo of Walker and Mills join Speir's recent hires of offensive coordinator Brad Glenn, wide receivers coach Trey Elder and offensive line coach John Holt. They all join assistants Mark Rhea (defensive line, recruiting coordinator), Arketa Banks (running backs) and Chris Collins (defensive assistant) who were retained from the previous WCU coaching staff.



During Walker's 10 seasons in Conway, the Chanticleers had four players on the defensive side garner All-America accolades including linebacker Jamar Leath in 2006. Players within his defense earned a combined 44 All-Big South accolades with 22 first team honors including three by linebackers Maurice Simpkins and two by Andrae Jacobs, who was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.

Coastal Carolina captured three-consecutive Big South Conference titles, doing so in just the program's second, third and fourth seasons of play. CCU posted a combined record of 28-6 in that period, garnering a berth in the 2006 NCAA Division I Football Championships and final top-25 rankings in three national polls all three years.

Then, in 2010, the Chanticleer defense again played a key role in Coastal winning its fourth Big South title. Not only was Jacobs named Big South Defensive Player of the Year and first team All-Big South, but Dominique Davenport was dominant in earning first team all-conference honors and corner Josh Norman was named first team all-league for the second year. In addition, senior Kent Harper had 10.0 tackles for losses to earn second team All-Big South as well as help Coastal Carolina lead the conference and rank 16th nationally in TFLs (7.50).

As a unit under Walker's direction, Coastal ranked 38th nationally in total defense in the 2010 season, allowing just 109 total points in league play in garnering the Big South's automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Championship.

From the out-set, Coastal Carolina's defense has set the tone. In the program's first year, it ranked first in the league and eighth nationally in turnover margin, while ranking second in the Big South in total defense. From 2004-07, the Chants' defense has ranked first in the league in pass efficiency defense, while ranking first or second in sacks and tackles for loss from 2005-09, except for 2008 when Coastal ranked third in the Big South in sacks. Also, Coastal has twice led the nation in interceptions, getting 19 in 2006 and 27 in 2004.

For the 2009 season, behind the leadership of second team All-Big South pick Desmond Steward, Coach Walker's unit ranked 15th in pass defense, allowing just 160.55 ypg, while six players ranked among the Big South top 20 in interceptions -- getting 21 picks as a unit. Norman led the way in aerial thefts, setting a Big South Record and ranking third nationally with eight interceptions.

Coastal led the league in pass defense in 2006, '07 and `08. On the strength of 18 interceptions in `07, the Chants ranked sixth nationally in turnover margin (1.36). In 2006, Coastal's defense tied for the national lead with 19 interceptions. Walker's defense led the nation in pass efficiency defense and contributed to the top turnover margin in the country, setting a Big South record at plus 22.

Individually, defensive back Quinton Teal led the Big South and ranked among the top 15 nationally in interceptions per game (2004-06), earning second team All-American honors from the Associated Press.

In 2004, the defense ranked in the top 30 in the country in scoring defense (5th), total defense (21st) and pass defense (22nd). In recognition of the outstanding season, Walker was honored by the All-America Football Foundation with the 2004 Mike Campbell Top Assistant Coaches Award, along with then offensive coordinator Jamie Snider.

Prior to making the move to Coastal Carolina, Walker served with former Chanticleer head coach David Bennett for the previous seven years at Catawba College, first as the linebackers coach from 1995-2000 before earning a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2001, where he served for his final season.

As defensive coordinator, the Indians ranked first in the nation in scoring defense, 11th in rushing defense and 22nd in total defense. During his tenure at Catawba, the program made the NCAA Division II playoffs three straight seasons, including a 2001 semifinal berth.

Prior to his time at Catawba, Walker got his coaching start at Salisbury High School as the linebackers coach.

A native of Burlington, N.C., Walker was a four-year starter and letterwinner at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. A 2004 inductee into Catawba's Sports Hall of Fame and 2008 inductee into the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Hall of Fame, Walker earned All-American honors his final three seasons, including first-team accolades as a senior in 1992 and three-times on the All-South Atlantic Conference First Team. He was named the team's Most Valuable Player in 1991 and served as team captain his senior season. He earned a bachelor's degree in December 1992, majoring in sociology.

Walker was additionally a two-time All-Conference selection at Graham High School, earning Mid-State Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1987. A 1988 graduate of the school, he held the school's record for career tackles for 14 years.

Walker and his wife, Sheka, have two sons; Jalon and Curtis Jr.

Pat Mills, WCU's new tight ends coach

Mills joins the Catamount staff after spending the 2011 season as the tight ends coach at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia. Last season, he mentored CU senior Rashid Baker who ranked third on the team with 32 receptions for 315 yards and two touchdowns, earning honorable mention on the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) post-season award squads.

The Mountain Lions finished with a 7-4 overall record and a 7-1 mark in the WVIAC, claiming its first conference championship since 1990. Concord also qualified for the NCAA Super Region 1 playoffs, the program's first post-season appearance since 1992.

Mills was a four-year letter-winner and three-year starter along the offensive line at Appalachian State from 2007-10, twice garnering All-Southern Conference plaudits. Originally from Charlotte, N.C., and Providence HS, he played in 47 career games at ASU, splitting time at both offensive guard positions.

As a redshirt junior, Mills started all 14 games at right guard, earning second team All-SoCon recognition from the league's voting media after only allowing one sack all season. The following year, he earned first team all-conference accolades, seeing 723 snaps on the field without allowing a quarterback sack.

Western Carolina continues to count down to National Signing Day, next Wednesday, Feb. 1, when high school student-athletes ink letters of intent to play for the Catamounts beginning next fall. WCU Football and the Catamount Club will sponsor a National Signing Day recap event beginning at 5:30 pm on Thursday, Feb. 2 in the Ramsey Center Hospitality Room as a part of the pregame Purple Zone prior to the Catamount men's basketball home game against North Division rival, Chattanooga (White Out Night, 7 pm).

Speir will introduce both his staff and the 2012 incoming class, providing a bio and video glimpses of the newest Catamounts.

To RSVP for the pregame event, please contact the Catamount Club office at (828)227-3047, or e-mail