Murray State Head Coach Chris Hatcher has announced the hiring of Dennis Therrell as defensive coordinator, and tabbed Davern Williams to coach the defensive line. Both hires were officially announced Monday.
Therrell joins the Racers after spending the previous three seasons with the Las Vegas Locos of the United Football League. He spent the 2012 season coaching the defensive backs, after coaching the linebackers in 2010 and 2011. Therell helped the Locos to the 2010 UFL championship, as well as a runner-up finish in 2011.
“Dennis is a great addition to our staff,” said head coach Chris Hatcher. “He brings valuable experience that will help to develop a championship defense and championship team here at Murray State.”
Prior to his time in the UFL, Therrell spent three seasons at UNLV. After serving as the linebackers coach in 2007, he was elevated to defensive coordinator for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Therrell served as a volunteer assistant at Auburn in 2006, after spending the previous two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Racers. Therrell’s first season calling the defense saw the Racers lead the OVC in yards per game (300.9) and points allowed (20.0). The defense allowed 118 fewer points than the previous season, including surrendering just 32 points in the fourth quarter all season.
Therrell joined the Racers staff in 2004, after spending four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Army. In his first season with the Racers, Therrell guided a defense that led the OVC in points per game (20.0) and total defense. The team also ranked third in rushing yards (113.0) allowed per game, an improvement from eighth the previous season.
Therrell spent four years on the Illinois State staff serving as the Redbirds’ assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and secondary coach from 1997 to 1999. In 1999, his defense ranked 21st nationally in turnover margin. During his final season, ISU topped the Gateway Conference in rushing defense (136.5), opponent yards per pass attempt (6.4) and quarterback sacks (32).
He joined the Lock Haven staff as an assistant in 1987 before being elevated to head coach prior to the 1990 campaign. In just their second year under Therrell, the Bald Eagles recorded their highest victory total in more than two decades. His six-year tenure was marked by an overall program upgrade that included a dramatic improvement in the football program’s facilities.
A letterwinner at linebacker during his playing days at Tennessee Tech, Therrell helped the Golden Eagles capture the OVC championship in 1975. He later enjoyed a brief stay with the St. Louis Cardinals of the National Football League.
The Pikeville, Tenn., native began his coaching career at the high school level, serving for one year at Campbell County High and three seasons at Rhea County High in Tennessee. His Rhea County club reached the state championship in 1981. Therrell jumped to the collegiate coaching ranks in 1983, serving as a graduate assistant at Tennessee. While at UT, Therrell helped the Vols to the 1983 Citrus Bowl and the 1984 Sun Bowl.
Therrell moved on to Middle Tennessee State following the 1984 campaign, spending two seasons on the Blue Raiders’ coaching staff. During that time, MTSU ranked among the top teams in Division I-AA and closed the 1985 season ranked No. 1 nationally.
Therrell and his wife, Dawn, have two sons, John, 21, and Cody, 18, and a daughter, Abby, 13.
Williams joins the Racers after spending the previous four seasons as the defensive line coach at Jacksonville State. He has helped produce at least one first-team all-conference defensive lineman in each season with the Gamecocks. Williams helped the Gamecocks feature one of the top defensive units in the conference, capturing the league title in 2011.
“Davern is a great addition to our staff,” said Hatcher. “He brings a strong work ethic and a familiarity to the OVC.”
Prior to his time with the Gamecocks, Williams spent one season as the defensive line coach at Millsaps College. In his one season with the Majors, Williams developed a youthful defensive line that accounted for 13.5 of the teams 22 sacks, 32 tackles-for-loss and a pair of fumble recoveries. The defense as a whole ranked 25th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up two touchdowns or less in nine of 12 games.
Williams began his coaching career at Huntingdon College, serving as the defensive line coach for two seasons.
As a player, Williams was a three-year standout on the defensive line for Troy. He finished his career with 163 tackles, six sacks,19 tackles-for-loss, three forced fumbles, one interception and 30 quarterback hurries. Williams earned honorable mention All-Southland Conference honors as a sophomore, before registering a career-best 61 tackles his junior campaign.
Williams began his collegiate career at Auburn in 1998, appearing in two games for the Tigers.
Following his collegiate career, Williams was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round. He spent the 2003 season with the Dolphins, before joining the New York Giants for the 2004 season.
Williams was a prep standout at Jefferson Davis High School, where he helped the Vols to the 1996 Alabama 6A state championship. He was a three-time all-Metro selection, a two-time all-state honoree and Montgomery Advertiser 6A Player of the Year as a senior.
Following his senior campaign, Williams participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic.
Williams graduated from Troy in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in sports fitness management.
From: MSU Media Relations