MONTGOMERY, Ala. | Alabama State University head coach Donald Hill-Eley rounded out his staff for the upcoming season, with a pair of offensive assistants Thursday afternoon.
“We needed to find a way to generate points,” Eley said. “We have to find ways to motivate the guys that are here and get a threatening offense to challenge our opponents, something we didn’t have last year. We had to address that, and I think we have done that with the guys we have brought in.”
Eley announced the addition of Joe Blackwell as the offensive coordinator, who will also be in charge of the offensive line for the upcoming season. The veteran spent the last two seasons at a pair of high schools, most notably as the assistant head coach at Camden where the school set a record for points and yardage, and was also the offensive coordinator at Irmo (S.C.) High School. Prior to those stints, Blackwell was on the staff at South Carolina State where he was the offensive coordinator. Prior to South Carolina State, Blackwell was the interim offensive coordinator at Norfolk State where his offense averaged 30 points and 463.3 yards per game en route to winning four consecutive games at the end of the year. He also coached DeAngelo Branche to 631 of his school record 1,330 yards in the last four games as the offensive coordinator. Prior to joining Norfolk State, Blackwell began his first stint at South Carolina State and helped the Bulldogs to back-to-back MEAC championships (2008 and 2009).
The Hornets also added Gary Harrell to the staff for the upcoming season, where he will be responsible for the running backs. He joins Alabama State after serving a two-year stint under Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic. He joined the Florida Atlantic staff in January of 2017. His attention was given to the wide receivers who rotated throughout the season seeing the quarterbacks utilize a total of nine receivers. Senior Kalib Woods was named the Conference USA Championship MVP, and Willie Wright, just a freshman, was the team’s most consistent wide out and led the Owls with 56 catches and a total of six scores. Following the year, Wright earned a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman team. Prior to his stint at Florida Atlantic, he served as the head coach of his alma matter – Howard – for five years.