Four selected HBCU coaches will assist Detroit Lions and New York Jets staffs
MOBILE, Alabama – The Reese’s Senior Bowl today announced that the four coaches from Historically Black Colleges & Universities taking part in this year’s first-ever minority coaching fellowship program are the following: Virginia State Head Coach Reggie Barlow, Morgan State Head Coach Tyrone Wheatley, South Carolina State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Jonathan Saxon, and Jackson State Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach T.C. Taylor.
It was previously announced that the Detroit Lions and New York Jets will be coaching in the 73rd annual Reese’s Senior Bowl and each of those participating clubs will have two HBCU coaches assigned to their staffs for the weeklong pre-draft event. These accomplished HBCU coaches will take part in on-field coaching, position meetings, and nightly staff evaluations. The primary goal of this new initiative is to connect HBCU coaches with NFL decision-makers in hope that it leads to future career opportunities, while also giving the rest of the league’s teams four individuals to contact for information about Senior Bowl participants.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl will be played on Saturday, February 5, 2022, at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of the University of South Alabama. The game will be aired live on the NFL Network at 1:30 CT (local time). The Lions own the No. 2 pick, while the Jets own the Nos. 4 and 10 selections in the 2022 NFL draft.
Statement from Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy:
“The Senior Bowl has worked closely with the NFL Football Operations Executive VP Troy Vincent and his staff on different ways we can use our game’s unique platform to create greater opportunities for minority candidates in both coaching and player personnel. This initiative will provide HBCU coaches a developmental opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of decision-makers from all 32 NFL clubs.”
Statement from NFL Football Operations Executive Vice President Troy Vincent:
“This is an excellent opportunity for HBCU coaches to come alongside their NFL colleagues to learn, to share and create relationships, both professionally and personally,” said Troy Vincent, Sr., Executive Vice President of NFL Football Operations. “The choice of inclusion is part of the ongoing efforts to promote trust, develop skills and provide a foundation for future mobility.”
Reggie Barlow – Virginia State Head Coach
Reggie Barlow is entering his 7th season as Virginia State University’s Head Football Coach. As head coach, Barlow compiled an overall record of 68-45. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, Alabama State University in 2005. He mentored NFL Draft picks, QB Tarvaris Jackson (2nd round 60th pick, Vikings), and Michael Coe (5th round 173, Colts) before being promoted Head Coach in 2007. In 2010, the Hornets went 7-5, claimed their fourth outright SWAC Eastern Divisional title, and made their third trip to the league’s championship game in eight seasons. Coach Barlow came to VSU with more than a decade of coaching experience and began his tenure at VSU in 2016.
In 2017, Barlow led the Trojans to an undefeated regular season (10-0) record, the first in school history, 7-0 in the CIAA, and 5-0 in the Northern Division to claim the Northern Division Title. The Trojans then went on to claim the 2017 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship Title under his leadership. Because of his efforts, Barlow was named the 2017 CIAA Coach of the Year.
Prior to his coaching experience, Barlow spent eight years in the NFL: five years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, one year with the Oakland Raiders, and two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won Super Bowl XXXVII. He was used as a secondary wide receiver and punt returner. In 1997, he led the NFL in punt return yards with 555 yards on 43 returns. Barlow was drafted in the 4th round, pick 110 by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1996 NFL draft.
“I couldn’t be more proud to work with Reggie Barlow as we build a nationally competitive football program representing VSU and our community across the country,” said VSU Director of Athletics Peggy Davis. “In my view, the turnaround he led has been nothing short of phenomenal.”
Barlow is the father of three children – Erica, Reggie Jr., and Simone, and the grandfather of one: Tyler Grace.
Tyrone Wheatley – Morgan State Head Coach
Introduced as the 22nd head coach in Morgan State football history on February 21, 2019, Tyrone Wheatley took the helm of the Bears after establishing an extensive coaching résumé and tremendous success, both as a player and as a coach, at the professional and collegiate levels.
Wheatley’s first season at Morgan State included five Bears that collected All-MEAC honors (Ian McBorrough, Rico Kennedy, Malachi Washington, Carl Garnes, and Manasseh Bailey,) including two All-Americans (McBorrough and Kennedy) and one NFL undrafted free agent selection (Bailey).
Wheatley joined the Bears after serving the last two seasons under head coach Doug Marrone, as the running backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wheatley also worked with Marrone at Syracuse University from 2010-12, and then with the Buffalo Bills from 2013-14.
Prior to coaching in the NFL, Wheatley spent five seasons in the collegiate ranks. From 2010-2012, he coached running backs at Syracuse University. While with the Orange, he coached Delone Carter to a 1,000-yard season in 2010 and a second-team All-Big East selection. He also helped Syracuse win two Pinstripe Bowls during his tenure (2010, 2012).
Wheatley spent one year each at Eastern Michigan University (2009) and Ohio Northern University (2008) as the running backs coach. At EMU he also served as the program’s recruiting coordinator.
Wheatley finished his Michigan football playing career as the program’s second-leading rusher (now fifth). He was the Big Ten’s “Offensive Player of the Year” in 1992 and earned All-America honors in the 110-meter hurdles as a track athlete in 1995. Following his graduation from the University of Michigan, Wheatley was selected 17th overall by the New York Giants in the 1995 NFL Draft and enjoyed a 10-year career in the NFL before starting his coaching career.
Shortly after retiring from the NFL, Wheatley held two appointments as a Minority Coaching Fellow in the league, first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006) and then with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2008).
A native of Inkster, Michigan, Wheatley earned his bachelor’s degree in 2008 from the University of Michigan. He and his wife Kimberly have five children: Tyrone, Jr., Terius, Tyrique, Tiana, and Tamari.
He was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Jonathan Saxon – South Carlina State Defensive Coordinator
Jonathan Saxon joined the South Carolina State football staff as an assistant coach in the summer of 2014. His primary responsibility is working with the outside linebackers. During his tenure at SC State, he mentored Darius Leonard, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and Jovan Hargrave, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Prior to SC State, Saxon spent two years as a graduate assistant, coaching the defensive line at the University of Louisville. In 2013, he helped coach AAC Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smith, who was a 2014 first-round draft pick for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Second-Team All-AAC honoree Lorenzo Mauldin.
That same year, Saxon helped with the Cardinals defense that led the nation in sacks (3.31 per game; 43 sacks in 13 games), total defense (251.5 yards per game), and rushing defense (80.7 ypg.). The defense also ranked second in scoring defense (12.2 points per game), fifth in passing defense (170.8 yards per game), and ninth in tackles for loss with 7.8 per game (102 TFLs). Louisville finished the season with a 12-1 overall record, which included a 36-9 win over No. 25 Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
During the 2012 season, Saxon helped guide the Cardinals to a top-25 finish defensively and an 11-2 overall record, which included a BIG EAST title and a Sugar Bowl win over third-ranked Florida.
A native of Orangeburg, S.C., Saxon was an outstanding offensive lineman at SC State, guiding the Bulldogs to three consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles and playoff appearances in 2008-2010.
A physical education major, Saxon earned his degree from SC State in 2011 and remained at his alma mater to work in the strength and conditioning office during the 2011-12 season.
Scholastically, Saxon was a three-year football letter winner and a two-time letterman in basketball and track and field at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
T.C. Taylor – Jackson State Offensive Coordinator
T.C. Taylor joined the Jackson State coaching staff in January of 2019 and serves as the tight ends coach.
He comes from North Carolina Central where he coached the previous five years as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
At NCCU Taylor helped guide the Eagles to three MEAC championships (2014, 2015, 2016) and in 2016 went unbeaten in conference play and qualified for the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.
In 2016 and under Taylor’s guidance, NCCU broke its record for total offense in a single season (4,614). Also, in 2014 Taylor’s unit set a program record for passes completed in a season (227).
From 2014 to 2018 Taylor coached 28 All-MEAC offensive players and five All-Americans.
In 2016 and under Taylor’s tutoring, Malcolm Bell was a finalist for the 2016 Black College Football Player of the Year. Bell was also a three-time All-MEAC quarterback (2014, 2015, 2016).
Bell’s name is written in the NCCU record books. He has the record for total offense (7,844 yards) and career completion percentage (56.6 percent). Bell is also second in program history in passing yards (6,340).
Taylor spent the prior two seasons (2012-13) at Texas Southern University as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.
From 2005-11, he coached at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Miss., starting as the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach and spending the final six years as offensive coordinator. His offenses ranked among the top-5 in Mississippi junior colleges in total yards for four straight seasons from 2007-10.
A native of McComb, Miss., Taylor played quarterback and wide receiver at Jackson State University from 1998-2001, starting off as a signal-caller for two-and-a-half seasons before switching to receiver. In just 19 games as a receiver, he amassed 188 catches for 1,793 yards.
As a senior at Jackson State, Taylor broke the JSU single-season record with 84 receptions for 1,234 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning NCAA Division I-AA Third-Team All-America honors from The Sports Network and First-Team Black College All-America recognition from Sheridan Broadcasting Network. He was also the runner-up for the 2001 Conerly Trophy, presented to Mississippi’s top college football player, behind Eli Manning.
Taylor signed as a rookie free agent with the New England Patriots in 2002, played wide receiver for the NFL Europe World Bowl XI champion Frankfurt Galaxy in 2003, and participated in the 2003 NFL preseason with the Detroit Lions before a nagging injury ended his playing career.
Taylor graduated from Jackson State with a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education, and recreation in 2005.