Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina head football coach Mark Speir has elevated second-year assistant coach Blake Gideon to the position of Passing Game Coordinator ahead of preparations for the 2017 football season. Gideon will continue to work with WCU’s defensive secondary under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator – and veteran defensive coach – John Wiley.
Last season, Gideon was heavily involved in defensive decision-making and play-calling over the last three games once a coaching change was made on the WCU defensive staff.
“Blake is a vital part of our defensive coaching staff and he, along with the defensive staff, stepped up to the plate a season ago for our team,” said Speir of Gideon. “Blake and our defensive coordinator, John Wiley, have really meshed well together, and this move on our staff will be what’s best for our football team.”
A four-year starter at safety for the Texas Longhorns – and a four-year honorable mention Big XII selection – Gideon brought a wealth of coaching experience to Cullowhee prior to the 2016 season including stints with SEC-programs Florida, Auburn, and South Carolina. The Leander, Texas, native – along with new linebackers coach, Zac Etheridge – mentored two All-Southern Conference selections a season ago in cornerback Trey Morgan and safety Fred Payne. Payne paced the Catamount defense with 87 tackles through 10 games, missing the Mercer game due to injury. Payne tallied double-digit tackles four times including a career-high tying 15 against Gardner-Webb in the home win.
Western Carolina returns a talented group in the defensive secondary headlined by rising seniors Keion Crossen – who broke up seven passes and returned an interception 65 yards last season – and Tra Hardy. The athletic group includes John Brannon, Marvin Tillman, Terrence Wilson, and Mikey White, who combined for nine starts between them in the secondary a season ago.
Catamount football season tickets for all five home dates in 2017 are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office and online at CatamountSports.com. Returning season ticket holders must renew their season tickets by mid-June, 2017. Fans can call the ticket office toll free at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401.
Fans can keep track of Catamount football through the Catamount Athletics social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports), Instagram (wcu_catamounts), and Twitter (@catamounts), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports).