2023 Football

Winston-Salem State University hoping new OC brings offense to life

The Winston-Salem State University offense was one of the worst in Division II. It is counting on a new hire to bring life to it in 2023.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Chris Barnette has only been on the field for a couple of practices as Winston-Salem State University football’s new offensive coordinator, but he’s already making his presence felt. 

At the end of the two-plus hour practice, Barnette gathered his offensive unit around him to deliver a message.

“How you do anything is how you do everything,” Barnette told the sweat-soaked student-athletes. After the huddle broke, one of the receivers walked up to him to explain his confusion with one of the schemes. He took the time to explain and demonstrate the concept to help the player better understand it. 

That type of dedication and patience is what Barnette will need as he looks to turn around one of the worst offenses in Division II football. 

Barnette spent much of the last decade down the road in Greensboro, helping North Carolina A&T’s offense take over the MEAC and HBCU football as the team won four conference titles and four Celebration Bowls. He started off as quarterbacks coach under Rod Broadway, helping mold Lamar Raynard into A&T’s all-time leading quarterback. He served as offensive coordinator under Broadway’s successor, Sam Washington, helping that regime win two more titles, one with Raynard and another with Kali Carter. 

But A&T underwent a makeover after the 2022 season, and Barnette was out the door as well as much of Washington’s staff. He made a quick pitstop before heading to Winston-Salem State University.

“So after North Carolina A&T, I was at South Carolina State for about a month and a half enjoyed my time there. I was the receivers coach there,” Barnette said after practice. “Buddy Pough is awesome. He’s the man. And they treated me well.”

No doubt, Barnette would have been a big asset to the D1 squad. But he’s spent the better part of the last twenty years in the Triad, and WSSU was still in need of an offensive coordinator.

“The opportunity came for me to be able to come back closer to my family. So I love that opportunity. I love the fact that it was Winston-Salem State that had a tradition of winning within the last decade or so. And I’m excited to bring what I can to the program to help us be successful. So I’m very excited about the opportunity.”

WSSU Winston-Salem State University

Barnette isn’t the only person excited about him joining the Rams.

Winston-Salem State University head coach Robert Massey knows his offense needs to be touched by an offensive angel. WSSU averaged just 17.1 points per game last season, tenth-worst in all of Division II. 

“We’re not going to be as predictable this as we were a year ago,” Massey said confidently. “And because of coaching experience his ability to give the same look, same formations and run different combinations and routes and things of that nature, and we’ve gotten better at the receiver position — we look forward to throwing the ball this year.”

Beyond schemes and playcalling, Massey is looking for Barnette to be a prominent influence on the younger coaches as well as the players. 

“Not only does he understand quarterback play, he understands offensive line play, receiver play, running back tight end. So he’s a well-rounded coach. And I think anytime you get a guy like that, you know, and he can now kind of galvanize our younger coaches on the offensive end and they’re learning.

Before arriving in East Greensboro, Barnette spent a dozen years at Guilford College as a player, student coach, and offensive coordinator. He’s expecting to use his previous experiences to turn the Rams respectable again. 

“I’m going to stress, the things that we stressed and the prior institution — effort, fundamentals and techniques. We got to be relentless as a program. All you’ve got for as long as it takes has to be the mentality. Fundamentally, we have to be sound and how you do any things, how you do everything from the standpoint of basically control, which that’s what I really talk to the guys about every single day since I’ve been here.”

WSSU will hold its spring football game on Saturday, April 15. 

Winston-Salem State University hoping new OC brings offense to life
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