2021 Football

Southern University 2021 Football Staff is complete

“I feel we have put together a great staff that can help our players maximize their entire collegiate experience and help develop champions on and off the field!” – Southern University interim head football coach Jason Rollins

Courtesy of Southern University Athletics

BATON ROUGE, LA. – Southern University interim head football coach Jason Rollins announced the rest of his 2021 staff.

It is, as follows:

Ryan Pugh – Offensive Line Coach / Run Game Coordinator 
Darren Drago – Defensive Line Coach 
Wilbert Gilmore, Jr. – Special Teams Coordinator / Defensive Ends Coach 

L’Damian Washington – Wide Receivers Coach 
Blake Yorloff – Defensive Backs Coach 

“I’m excited to announce our staff,” said Rollins. “We have hit the ground running and been working hard as Southern University is the Standard. I feel we have put together a great staff that can help our players maximize their entire collegiate experience and help develop champions on and off the field!”

Southern University

Bios for each staff newcomer are listed below.

Ryan Pugh – Offensive Line Coach / Run Game Coordinator
Ryan Pugh comes to Southern University after serving as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Troy University. A four-year starter and All-American at Auburn, Pugh joined the Troy staff following one season as the offensive line coach at BYU in addition to coaching stops at LSU, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Auburn and UT-San Antonio.
In his first season at Troy, the Trojans topped the 500-yard mark in total offense on six different occasions to tie the program’s DI record and scored 35-plus points eight times; the second most in program history and fourth most in Sun Belt Conference history. The Trojans finished ninth nationally in passing offense (313.2), 25th in scoring offense (33.8) and 18th in total offense (456.3). Pugh was nominated for the Broyles Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.
In his first season at BYU, the Cougars improved their scoring output by more than 10 points per game, their rushing total by more than 20 yards per game and their total offensive output by more than 39 yards per game. BYU finished 35th nationally with 27 rushing touchdowns on the season after finding the end zone just 12 times on the ground before Pugh’s arrival. Additionally, center James Empey earned Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America honors, Brady Christensen earned Freshman All-America (second team) honors and tackle Austin Hoyt was named to the Phil Steele All-Independent Team.

Prior to joining the staff at BYU, Pugh spent the previous two seasons at UTSA coaching the offensive line. Under Pugh, the Roadrunner offensive line led the way for a unit that scored a program-best 379 points en route to the school’s first bowl game in history, the 2016 New Mexico Bowl. 

In 2015, Pugh coached at LSU with the offensive line. The Tigers went 9-3 and finished No. 16 nationally. The offensive line blocked for a running game ranked seventh nationally and tops in the SEC at 256.8 yards per game.

Pugh spent the 2014 season at Cincinnati as a graduate assistant.  He helped tutor first-team all-conference selections offensive tackle Eric Lefeld and offensive guard Parker Ehlinger as the Bearcats went 9-4. Prior to Cincinnati, Pugh was at Virginia Tech in 2013 and helped the Hokies earn another bowl trip and an 8-5 overall record.

Pugh started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Auburn, in 2012. Pugh helped eventual Rimington Trophy winner Reese Dismukes and 2014 NFL Draft second overall pick offensive tackle Greg Robinson.

A four-year letterwinner at Auburn from 2007-2010, Pugh earned All-America honors as a senior and was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy. He was a three-time All-SEC selection and was the starting center for the Tigers’ 2010 national championship team.

A native of Hoover, Alabama, Pugh graduated cum laude with his bachelor’s degree in building science from Auburn in 2012. He is married to the former Cathey Lee Dalton and the couple has two daughters, Etta Graceyn and Ellen James.

Darren Drago – Defensive Line Coach
Drago comes to Southern University after serving as the Linebackers Coach and Defensive Line Coach at UTSA. Before he arrived at UTSA he was the defensive coordinator at University of Arkansas Monticello and linebackers coach at Henderson State University. 

While at HSU, Darren instructed multiple linebackers that went on to earn numerous accolades including Pre-Season All-American, All-Super Region 3, All-GAC First Team, and All-GAC Second Team as well. 

Drago spent two years at Louisiana College prior to Henderson State, where he served as the programs outside linebackers coach. He also made a return to Northwestern State for two years prior to Louisiana College where he was the linebackers coach, recruiting coordinator, and head of high school relations for the football program. 

Prior to his second stint with Northwestern State, Drago found himself as working as the defensive assistant to the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Louisiana State University, where he aided the program in a 2008 Chick-fil-a Bowl victory. Before going to LSU he was recruiting coordinator & Defensive line coach in 2006 and the Defensive coordinator in 2007 at Stephen F. Austin.

During his time at Northwestern State University as an assistant coach, Drago served all at one point, as the programs defensive line coach, running backs/tight ends coach, recruiting coordinator, team travel coordinator, and liaison to the heads of the school’s academic departments. 

Darren lettered in all four years at the fullback position while attending Northwestern State, while finding success as a member of such NSU teams that advanced to the Division l-AA semifinals two years in a row from 1997-1998. Drago also earned Southland Conference All-Academic honors in 1997 as well. 

Drago completed his bachelors of science degree from Northwestern State University and earned his master’s degree from NSU in sports administration as well. He is also a member of the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association).

Wilbert Gilmore Jr. – Special Teams Coordinator / Defensive Ends Coach 
Wilbert Gilmore Jr. comes to the bluff after serving as the Defensive Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator at Alabama A&M. Before he joined the bulldog’s staff, he served on the Azusa Pacific University coaching staff, as the Special Teams Coordinator and Specialist Coach for the Cougars.

Gilmore came to Azusa Pacific from Pomona-Pitzer College, where he served as the Special Teams Coordinator and Linebackers Coach for two seasons (’17-’18).  Under his direction, the Sagehens’ special team units ranked near the top of the SCIAC in kick return yardage, kick defense and punting. During his time at Pomona-Pitzer, he developed an all-conference punter and two all-conference kick returners both of which broke a 37-year drought by scoring on kick and punt returns respectively. Prior to joining Pomona-Pitzer College, Gilmore was the Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach at Occidental College for two seasons.  He also spent one season as the linebackers coach at Claremont McKenna College.

Prior to coaching in the collegiate ranks, Gilmore spent a number of years coaching top-level high school football in both Southern California and the Washington D.C. area.  Very active in his community, Gilmore has volunteered for NFL FLAG Los Angeles for the past 4 seasons and is also a reading coach at his neighborhood elementary school.  He has mentored several players that have went on to successful careers on and off the field, of which he’s most proud of. He has been an active member of the America Football Coaches Association for the past 10 years.  He has also been guest speaker on the coaching circuit for the past four years.

Gilmore graduated from Tulane University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. He also graduated with a Master’s degree in Recreation and Sports Science from Ohio University.  While at Tulane, he lettered 4 years in football, having been named Team Defensive MVP in 1992 and voted Team Captain of the Centennial Team in 1993.  After college, Gilmore played two seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders and the Birmingham Barracudas.

A New Orleans native, Gilmore prepped at John F. Kennedy Sr. High where he was a standout defensive back and one of the top high school players in the state. 

Gilmore and his wife, Natasha, resides in Los Angeles, CA with their five children: Bryce and Brenton (21), Gabrielle (18), Saxton (13) and Syre (12).

L’Damian Washington – Wide Receivers Coach 
Washington comes to Southern University after serving as the Director of Player Development at Missouri. 
Washington was a four-year contributor who spent five seasons in the Mizzou program under Gary Pinkel. He was the captain on the 2013 SEC East Champion Mizzou team. He caught 25 passes for 399 yards and three touchdowns in his first two seasons at Mizzou before moving into a starting role as a junior. In 2012, he caught 25 passes for 443 yards and two scores before exploding for 50 catches and 893 yards with 10 scores as a senior. One of his most memorable plays came in an upset win at Georgia that year, catching a double-pass from Bud Sasser to help Mizzou to a 41-26 between the hedges.
Upon graduation from Mizzou in four years with a psychology degree, Washington played for seven NFL teams and also played in the AAF and the XFL for the St. Louis Battlehawks.
Washington garnered national attention for his incredible strength and perseverance while he was starring on the gridiron at Mizzou. He lost both of his parents as a young kid, forcing he and his brothers to figure out a world on their own. He has served as a motivational speaker since graduating and his own personal experiences in life will make him a key member of the football staff at Mizzou moving forward.

Blake Yorloff – Defensive Backs Coach 
Blake Yorloff is currently entering his second year at Southern University, first as the defensive backs coach. He previously served as the assistant defensive backs coach and assistant special teams coordinator at Southern last year. Yorloff helped coach the Jaguars defense that ranked first in the SWAC in total defense and heavily contributed to special teams which lead the SWAC in all but one statistical category. 

Yorloff played collegiately at McNeese State as a defensive back, graduating in 2019. A Houston native, Yorloff prepped at Seven Lakes High School where he was a standout defensive back and three year letterwinner.  

Returning to the Southern University staff are:
Charlie Ayro – Associate Head Coach / Linebackers Coach
Lionel Washington – Defensive Coordinator / Cornerbacks Coach
Zach Grossi – Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach
Chris Browne – Tight Ends Coach
Ashton Warner – Running Backs Coach / Recruiting Coordinator
Connor Loper – Wide Receivers Assistant Coach / Recruiting Analyst

Southern University 2021 Football Staff is complete
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