Littrell Finalizes Coaching Staff On Both Sides Of The Ball
Mean Green Coach Hires Ekeler, Reffett, LeBlanc, Brown, Womack and Elder
DENTON – Mean Green head coach Seth Littrell’s coaching staff is complete as he’s announced the hirings of Mike Ekeler, Troy Reffett, Derrick LeBlanc, Nate Brown, Zack Womack and Shane Elder on Wednesday.
Ekeler is the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Reffett is the assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator, LeBlanc is the defensive line coach, Brown will coach cornerbacks, Womack is the head strength and conditioning coach and Elder is assistant athletic director for football operations.
Ekeler spent the last two seasons as inside linebackers coach at Georgia and has been at USC, Indiana, Nebraska, LSU and Oklahoma.
In 2015, the Bulldog defense ranked eighth in the nation in total defense, giving up only 305.8 yards a game. In 2014, the Georgia defense was ranked 17th in the country in total defense. In his first season at Georgia, the Bulldogs defense was second in the SEC in passing defense efficiency. He coached two NFL draft picks in 2014, Ramik Wilson (sixth round) and Amarlo Herrera (sixth round). Ekeler also coordinated the defensive special teams at Georgia.
At USC in 2013, Ekeler coached Devon Kennard, who was named to the All-PAC 12 second-team. That year Kennard had 60 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. While at Indiana with Littrell, Ekeler served as the linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator from 2011-12.
A native of David City, Nebraska, he served as linebackers coach at Nebraska for three seasons (2008-10) under head coach Bo Pelini. During his three years in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers won or shared the Big 12 Conference North Division title all three seasons.
Reffett joins the Mean Green after spending one season with Memphis as the cornerbacks coach.
At Memphis in 2015 the Tigers had 12 interceptions en route to a 9-4 season and a berth in the Birmingham Bowl.
Prior to joining the Tigers, Reffett spend six years with Louisiana-Monroe.
In his final season at ULM, Reffett’s defense ranked among the top-20 nationally in passing yards allowed (189.9 ypg/14th), third-down conversion defense (0.326/11th) quarterback sacks (3.00 pg/13th) and tackles for lost yardage (7.5 pg/10th).
All told, Louisiana-Monroe ranked in the top four in the Sun Belt Conference in 10 defensive team statistical categories. The Warhawks led the Sun Belt in total defense, allowing 373.3 yards per game. ULM also led the SBC in third down percentage defense, quarterback sacks and tackles for loss. The team’s 26.3 points allowed per game ranked second in the SBC. ULM had two players named to the All-Sun Belt Conference First Team Defense at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
Reffett spent five seasons at New Mexico beginning in 2004 where he coached the Lobos cornerbacks before being promoted to defensive coordinator prior to the 2008 season. Reffett coached 14 seasons at UTEP, including 2002 and 2003 as the Miners’ defensive coordinator under head coach Gary Nord.
LeBlanc joins the Mean Green coaching staff after coaching stints with Southern Miss, Wyoming, LSU and most recently Pearl River College.
LeBlanc spent two years at Southern Miss, 2013 and 2014 and helped revitalize the defensive line in his time. In his first year LeBlanc managed a defensive line led by Khyri Thornton, who was named second team All-Conference USA and selected in the third round (85th overall pick) to the Green Bay Packers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Under LeBlanc's tutelage, Thornton recorded 39 tackles, including 16 solo tackles and 23 assisted tackles.
In his one season at Wyoming in 2012, he made a lasting impact on the Cowboy program, coaching defensive tackle Mike Purcell to All-Mountain West Conference first team honors. Purcell was third on the team in tackles, a tough mark to achieve for an interior lineman, with 83 while recording eight tackles for loss. Purcell was also one of two Wyoming seniors selected to play in a postseason collegiate all-star game.
LeBlanc went to Wyoming from LSU, where he was an assistant strength and conditioning coordinator from 2008-11. Prior to working in the LSU athletics department, LeBlanc was the defensive line coach at Missouri State for two seasons in 2006-07.
Brown spent the past year coaching cornerbacks at his alma mater, Louisiana-Monroe.
In his second stint with ULM, having previous served as a defensive graduate assistant in 2012, Brown coached cornerback Trey Caldwell, who earned honorable mention all-Sun Belt honors in 2015. Caldwell had 52 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and had 10 pass break-ups during the season.
Brown was the defensive backs coach while also assistant in recruiting and serving as the academic liaison at Grambling State in 2014. In his one season with the Tigers, the squad finished 7-5 overall and posted a six win improvement from the 2013 season.
Brown was a four-year letterwinner as part of the Warhawk secondary. During his first three seasons, Brown played at the corner position before switching to safety. He was named third-team All-Sun Belt by Phil Steele following a strong junior campaign in 2010. He also earned Louisiana Sports Writer’s Association Defensive Player of the Week honors following a standout performance against Arkansas (Sept. 11, 2010).
Womack had been at North Carolina since 2012, where he worked with coach Littrell the past two seasons. He joined North Carolina after serving as the head strength and conditioning coach at East Central University from 2010-12.
Prior to his time at East Central, he served as an assistant strength coach for football at the University of Illinois from 2005-10. Womack also served as an assistant coach at the University of Florida and the University of Memphis in 2004.
Womack is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and is a certified coach by USA Weightlifting. He is also a member of the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.
Elder spent the last seven seasons at UTSA, first as the director of football operations before being promoted to assistant athletics director for football and operations in 2014.
Elder was hired in October 2009 as UTSA’s Director of Football Operations and promoted to Assistant Athletics Director for Football in 2014.
He was responsible for coordinating team travel, on-campus recruiting visits, the walk-on program and housing and meal programs for student-athletes. He assisted with summer camps, overseeing the program’s compliance paperwork, scheduling, organizing community service outings and serving as the high school coaches liaison.
Elder came to UTSA from Texas A&M, where he served as the football program’s administrative assistant for recruiting for seven years. During his time with the Aggies, he was a part of three bowl teams -- the 2005 Cotton Bowl, 2006 Holiday Bowl and 2007 Alamo Bowl.