New Hampshire Football Report

UNH returns to practice

DURHAM – Football is back.

Rick Santos and his new-look University of New Hampshire football staff opened the team’s spring football session first thing Monday morning on Bremner Field and were back at it again Wednesday.

“I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night but it wasn’t nerves, it was sheer excitement,” Santos said. “From not being on a football field for all those months, to having the opportunity to be back out there. Obviously the season didn’t end the way we wanted last year. The message was it’s a new year, a new opportunity to start fresh and hone our craft and get back to playing New Hampshire style of ball.”

Santos liked the early returns.

“Guys were flying around, we practiced with good tempo,” he said. “I think it was good. We’ve got some pretty good staff dynamics right now so everyone was where we needed to be.”

Santos was promoted from his role as associate head coach when Sean McDonnell, his own coach at UNH and mentor, retired after last season. He’s been retooling his staff since and is especially excited about the defensive and offensive coordinator positions.

Garrett Gillick was promoted to defensive coordinator and associate head coach and will continue to coach linebackers.

Brian Scott is the offensive coordinator and will remain as coach of the offensive line.

After taking next week off for spring break, the Wildcats return to Bremner Field to resume practice the following week.  The Blue-White spring game to wrap up spring football is scheduled for April 14 at 7 p.m.

Gillick replaces John Lyons, who retired from his role as defensive coordinator after the season ended.

“Couldn’t be happier to announce the promotion of Garrett to associate head coach and defensive coordinator,” Santos said. “He has been a fixture of our defensive and overall team success for nearly a decade. He has a great football mind, is an elite developer of talent and a top-notch recruiter.”

Gillick worked closely with Lyons since arriving from Bentley University in 2014.

“He’s doing a great job of commanding the defensive side of the ball and to have him to lean on and bounce ideas off is a tremendous help to me,” Santos said. “I can see right away that he’s ready for this and he’s going to thrive in this position.”

Scott joined the team from Towson before last year’s spring season. He made his name directing high-powered offenses as the offensive coordinator at Old Dominion University from 2012-19 and helped in that program’s ascension from the FCS to FBS level of play. Twice he was named FCS coordinator of the year.

“Brian’s promotion is well-deserved and it was an easy decision based on his past success calling plays,” Santos said. “He understands defensive structure and knows how to diagnose an opposing team’s tendencies. He brings a great perspective on how to organize and structure offensive game plans. There is a reason he has been recognized twice as being the best FCS coordinator in the country. I am really excited to see our offense become explosive and help set the tone for our team once again.”

Last year, Scott shared the coordinator duties with Mike Ferzoco, who has decided to take a step back from the coaching profession.

“I wish nothing but the best for Mike,” Santos said. “He gave 14 years of his life to this program and was a great leader, a great mentor and friend. He coached multiple positions and brought a lot of football knowledge to the table and leaves big shoes to fill. He made the decision to step away for now because he wanted to send more time with his family and kids.”

There have been other tweaks and adjustments to the staff as well.

Ed Borden will continue to coach tight ends and has added the tile of recruiting coordinator.

“Ed was instrumental in putting together an elite class during the 2022 cycle,” Santos said. “He has a keen eye for talent and understands what it takes to be successful at this level. We did a great job bringing in high character young men as well as talented football players. To win in this league you must be able to recruit and develop. Under his guidance, we will continue to bring in skilled student athletes that will help our team become even more competitive.”

Drew Belcher has been assigned to work with the quarterbacks, and Garrett McLaughlin will work with defensive ends and will also be special teams coordinator. John Bowes will continue to work with safeties and Nyeem Wartman-White with the defensive line. Justin McMullen is the video coordinator and in charge of player personnel.

Tommy Herion, who made his first career start at quarterback in last season’s finale against Maine, will be a volunteer assistant coach.

Santos previously announced that former Wildcat All American Casey DeAndrade had been hired as an assistant to work with defensive backs and will be defensive pass game coordinator; Stephen Barnette, an all-Colonial Athletic Association wide receiver at Richmond, will coach that position; and Jesse Goldberger, formerly at Central Connecticut State University, is the new director of operations.


Those who would like to help New Hampshire Football Report promote football in the Granite State can do so by purchasing an NHFR XTRA Membership or by making a donation below. Your support is greatly appreciated.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login