ULM Football Head Coach Todd Berry Appoints Five Assistant Coaches
MONROE, La.-Newly appointed ULM football head coach Todd Berry continued to assemble his coaching staff as he announced the hiring of Bryan Applewhite, Leon Lett and Jason Nichols on Saturday evening. Berry, who was named ULM's 14th head coach on Wednesday, also announced that current assistant coaches Everett Todd and Vance Vice would be retained on the new staff.
The hiring on Applewhite, Lett and Nichols is pending final approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. Applewhite will serve as the running backs coach, Lett will coach the defensive tackles and Nichols takes over the role as the wide receivers coach. Todd, who coached the entire defensive line last season, will now focus his concentration on just the defensive ends and Vice will continue his role as the offensive line coach.
Applewhite joins the Warhawks after one season at Montana State and six seasons at Wyoming where he served in similar roles. In his one season at Montana State, Applewhite coached a two-headed running back tandem that tallied over 1,110 rushing yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
"I developed a close bond with Bryan last season when he almost joined our staff at UNLV," Berry said. "He is a great recruiter and his running backs at Wyoming were always tough and did a great job with pass protection. He is really excited to work within our offensive style."
At Wyoming, Applewhite mentored two of the Cowboys' three all-time leading rushers (Devin Moore, 2,963 yards, and Wynel Seldon, 2,672 yards). Both spent time on NFL rosters. Prior to joining the Wyoming staff, the 1998 Northern Colorado graduate coached at his alma mater from 1999-2002.
A standout fullback at Northern Colorado from 1994-98, Applewhite played on teams that won two NCAA Division II National Championships (1996 and 1997), and competed in the Division II Playoffs for four straight seasons (1995-98) and won North Central Conference crowns during his junior and senior seasons.
The Brighton, Colo., native joined the UNC coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 1999 and was elevated to full-time status in 2000. The Bears finished sixth in Division II in rushing offense (127.8 yards per game) and fourth in total offense (362.1) in 2002, and the 1999 and 2002 Bears competed in the Division II Playoffs.
Lett, a two-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl Champion with the Dallas Cowboys, comes to ULM after serving as a volunteer assistant at UNLV last season.
"Leon has great knowledge about how to play defensive tackle," Berry said. "His NFL career speaks for itself and he has always wanted to get into coaching. While his coaching experiences are limited, Leon has a tremendous rapport with the players and is a great teacher of the game."
Lett played collegiately at Emporia State in Kansas before the Cowboys selected him in the seventh round of the 1991 NFL Draft. He made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 1994 and made his second trip in 1998.
During his career, Lett was one of the premier defensive players in the NFL. He won Super Bowl titles with the Cowboys in 1992, 1993 and 1995 before retiring from professional football in 2001 with 22.5 career sacks.
Determined to finish his college education, Lett returned to the classroom at UNLV in search of 25 credit hours to complete his degree. His hard work and determination paid off as he graduated from UNLV with a degree in university studies in May 2009.
Nichols joins the ULM staff after one season at Toledo where he coached the Rockets' outside receivers. Prior to his stint with Toledo, Nichols coached the wide receivers for four seasons at Kent State.
"Jason was playing at East Carolina when I was an assistant coach there and he always played above his athleticism. He played aggressive, but with discipline, and that has carried forward into his coaching career," Berry said. "Everyone I have talked to about Jason had nothing but wonderful remarks about him. He has done a phenomenal job recruiting at Toledo and Kent State. He is excited about the offense we are going to run, with its out-of-the-box thinking."
Despite only coaching for one season at Toledo, Nichols left his mark on the program. The Rockets had a pair of receivers top the 1,000-yard mark in 2009 and both earned All-Mid-American Conference honors. Eric Page led all freshmen in the NCAA with 82 receptions for 1,159 yards and seven touchdowns, while senior Stephen Williams had 79 catches for 1,065 yards and five touchdowns. Williams finished his career as Toledo's career leader in receptions and receiving yards.
Prior to his four seasons at Kent State, Nichols spent three years at Appalachian State coaching a receiving corps that was one of the most prolific in school and Southern Conference history.
Under Nichols' guidance, Walter Payton Award finalist Davon Fowlkes set school and conference records for receptions, receiving yards and all-purpose yards in 2004, while leading NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in all three categories. In 2003, Nichols mentored a pair of 1,000-yard receivers and his 2002 unit combined for over 190 catches.
Prior to his tenure at Appalachian State, Nichols was an assistant at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., for the 2001 season. Nichols also spent two weeks during the summer of 2004 with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an offensive intern, working primarily with the wide receivers.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at East Carolina in 2001 following a record-setting playing career for the Pirates. He caught a school-record 152 career passes for 1,557 yards and helped lead ECU to back-to-back Liberty Bowl appearances.
After graduating from ECU in 1998, Nichols signed with the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger Cats and later played for the Carolina Cobras in the Arena Football League.
Berry still has two more assistant coaching spots to fill on the defensive side of the football to complete his staff.