EIU Football Adds Seven Assistant Coaches

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Published on January 24 2014 5:24 pm
Last Updated on January 24 2014 5:24 pm
Written by Millie Lange

CHARLESTON, Ill. – Eastern Illinois head football coach Kim Dameron has added to his first coaching staff with the hiring of seven assistant coaches.  Tony Gilbert, Michael Hodges, Danny Nutt, Micah Smith, James Truxillo, Dennis “Dirt” Winston and Thomas Woods have joined the Panthers coaching staff.  In addition Lucas Stortzum will take over as the director of football operations.  They join offensive coordinator Greg Stevens and defensive coordinator Kane Wommack who were introduced last week.

Gilbert will serve as the Panthers special teams coach.  He worked last season as the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach at Southern Arkansas in what was his second stint at SAU (1997-2000).  Between stops at SAU, Gilbert worked for 13 years as an assistant coach at Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State and Central Arkansas.  He had nine seasons as the defensive backs coach at Arkansas State where the team ranked in the top twenty in the nation in pass defense two times.  Gilbert played running back at Missouri State and was on the team when Kim Dameron was an assistant coach.  He signed a pro contract with the New York Giants.

Michael Hodges will serve as the Panthers linebackers coach.  He worked the last two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Fresno State helping the Bulldogs appear in two straight bowl games.  He played linebacker at Texas A&M earning second team All-Big 12 honors and leading the Aggies in tackles as a senior.  He was awarded the 2010 Heart Award, the highest honor for a Texas A&M senior football player.

Danny Nutt will serve as the Panthers running backs coach.  Nutt was a long time assistant coach on his older brother Houston’s coaching staffs at Murray State, Boise State and Arkansas.  He stepped down from a coaching role in 2007 and served as the Assistant Athletics Director for Football Development at Ole Miss as a member of Houston Nutt’s staff.  He helped coach Arkansas to several bowl appearances as the running backs coach with five 1,000 yard rushing seasons.  He coached Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden and All-SEC selection Felix Jones.  Nutt played college football at both Central Arkansas and Arkansas.

Smith will serve as the Panthers outside receivers coach.  Smith comes to EIU after two seasons as the wide receivers coach at Fort Lewis State in Colorado.  He spent the 2011 season as the running backs coach at Wabash College in Indiana helping the program advance to the NCAA Division III playoff quarterfinals.  He has also worked at Wayne State (Neb.) and Chadron State.  He played football at Chadron State and was second in the nation in punt returns his senior year.

Truxillo will serve as the Panthers safeties coach.  He worked the last two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Louisiana Monroe coaching safeties one season and linebackers one season.  He helped the team earn its first FBS bowl bid in 2012 and be bowl eligible in 2013. Truxillo was a four-year starter at safety for ULM playing two seasons for then defensive coordinator Kim Dameron.  He was on the team that upset Alabama in 2007 and became the first ULM team to be bowl eligible.

Winston will serve as the Panthers defensive line coach.  He worked last season as the defensive coordinator at Grambling State ending the season as the program’s interim head coach.  Winston is an NFL veteran linebacker having played with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints.  He was a starter on two of the Steelers Super Bowl teams.  Over the last 25 years Winston has coached at all levels of the NCAA and had a three-year stint in the Canadian Football League where he helped Edmonton with a Grey Cup Championship.  At the NCAA level he has coached at Grove City, Slippery Rock, Arkansas State, Norfolk State, Arkansas, Kentucky State, Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas Pine Bluff.  He was the defensive line coach at Toledo from 2001-04 as the Rockets made three bowl appearances and won two conference championships.  He played football at Arkansas and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1977 NFL Draft.

Woods will serve as the Panthers inside receivers coach.  He most recently worked as the wide receivers coach at Tulane for five seasons as he helped develop a young wide receiving corps.  He spent one season as the wide receivers coach at Jacksonville State and was a part of David Cutcliffe’s staff at Ole Miss from 2000-05.  At Ole Miss he helped the Rebels win the SEC West Division title in 2003 earning a trip to the Cotton Bowl.  He also worked at both Western Carolina and Appalachian State.  Woods played at Tennessee and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 1990 Draft.

Stortzum will serve as the Panthers director of football operations.  He has worked in the EIU Athletic Department as an operations assistant for the past three years.

EIU was 12-2 last season advancing to the FCS playoff quarterfinals.  The Panthers ended the year ranked No. 4 in the final FCS polls.  EIU opens the 2014 season on August 28 at Minnesota.