Courtesy of North Carolina A&T Athletics
EAST GREENSBORO – Vincent Brown announced the completion of his staff on Wednesday, heading into his first season as North Carolina A&T’s head football coach.
“When putting the staff together, I had some specific areas that were critically important to me,” Brown said. “First, I wanted men of character who have a demonstrated ability of being excellent teachers. Secondly, I wanted men who had the documented ability to mentor, motivate, recruit, and most importantly, develop talent.
Every member of this staff checks those boxes. Most of the staff members and I have worked together previously at other places, and I got to see these qualities in person on a daily basis. The others had such strong reputations and endorsements from some of college football’s most respected names that they made the interview process very smooth. I feel very confident that we have put together one of the best staffs in FCS football and are excited about what lies ahead of us.”
Chris Young and Josh Zidenberg will serve as Vincent Brown’s coordinators, with Young running the A&T offense and Zidenberg heading the Aggies defense.
Young will also serve as the quarterbacks coach. Young spent the previous four seasons (2019-22) at Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) foe and Piedmont rival Elon as the wide receivers coach. Elon had the 45th-best passing offense in the nation, helping the Phoenix reach the 2022 NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs.
Young’s father, Donald B. Young, played men’s basketball at A&T from 1953-57. He also played baseball for the Aggies in 1954, leading to his playing in the Negro Baseball League. The North Carolina A&T Sports Hall of Fame inducted the elder Young as a member in 1996.
Zidenberg will double as North Carolina A&T’s linebackers coach. Before receiving his latest position in Aggieland, Zidenberg spent three seasons with the Ball State Cardinals as their passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach.
During the 2022 season, the Cardinals had three defensive backs earn All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) honors. Vincent Brown and Zidenberg coached together at William & Mary in 2019. They also crossed paths at the University of Virginia in the early 2010s.
Brown retained two coaches from the previous staff, offensive linemen coach Ron Mattes and wide receivers coach Nate Poole.
Mattes became North Carolina A&T’s offensive line coach in 2016 under head coach Rod Broadway. He worked under Sam Washington from 2018-2022 before being retained by Vincent Brown. During his time at A&T, Mattes has built an offensive line that is one of the best on the Division I-Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level. In addition, Mattes coached the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) offensive lineman of the year for four straight seasons.
Left tackle Brandon Parker won the award for two consecutive seasons (2016, 2017) under Mattes. Left guard Micah Shaw won the award in 2018, and left tackle Marcus Pettiford earned the accolade in 2019. Last season, all five Aggie offensive linemen earned All-Big South honors, with two earning first-team honors.
Poole will also serve as the Aggies recruiting coordinator. He came to A&T under head coach Sam Washington on August 1, 2020. Unfortunately, the Aggies did not have a 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, Poole’s first season coaching the Aggies on the field came during the 2021 season.
Eight different receivers scored touchdowns that season. In 2022, Zachary Leslie had four 100-yard receiving games, earned All-Big South honors, and broke the program record for career 100-yard receiving games with 10.
North Carolina A&T’s other offensive coaches include Charles Bankins as the running backs and special teams coordinator and Eric Gallon as the tight ends coach. Bankins comes to N.C. A&T with more than 25 years of collegiate coaching experience.
Bankins has served as a special teams coach or coordinator since 2005 at various schools like Charlotte, Old Dominion, Vanderbilt, Maryland, Richmond, Hampton, and with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. Coach Brown and Bankins crossed paths when both men were assistants at the University of Richmond under Mike London when the Spiders won the 2008 FCS National Championship.
Gallon served as the offensive coordinator at Robert Morris University last season when both RMU and A&T were members of the Big South. Before arriving at RMU, Gallon served as the running backs coach at Brevard College starting in 2017. Beginning in 2015, Gallon joined the Tennessee State staff (2015-16), serving as the program’s running backs coach.
The remaining defensive coaches include Kenard Lang (defensive line), Almondo Curry (cornerbacks) and Keith Henry (safeties). Lang was a standout defensive line at the University of Miami and a first-round pick of the then-Washington Redskins.
Before coming to N.C. A&T, Lang spent two seasons as the head coach of his high school alma mater, Maynard Evans. Before spending time at Maynard Evans in Orlando, Fla., he spent two seasons (2019-20) as the defensive line coach at Florida International University (FIU). Curry spent two seasons at Towson University as the football program’s cornerbacks coach. Before his time in Towson, Md., Curry spent a year at Maryville College. The year prior, he served as William & Mary’s quality control and defensive analyst.
Henry is in his second stint with A&T after coaching under Bill Hayes from 1993-95, coaching linebackers, wide receivers and defensive backs at various times during his first tenure. He was also the head baseball coach at A&T then, leading the Aggies to the 1993 MEAC championship and win over the University of North Carolina. A bulk of Henry’s career was spent working on a Jim Grobe-led staff, including 11 seasons at Wake Forest and six at Ohio University.
A&T opens the season at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on Thursday, August 31, before playing their home opener at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at Truist Stadium.