After a tough football season and another deep playoff run, the Bearkats added two new coaches, Gary McGraw and Justin Roberts, to the coaching staff. Also, assistant coach Kyle Segler was promoted as the Bearkats’ special team’s coordinator.
The good coaches have to start off somewhere. Whether it is junior college or Division III, most coaches start off small and then work their way up.
“I started coaching in junior college before I had the opportunity to come back to SHSU to coach in 2010,” Segler said.
Segler has been surrounded by well-respected head coaches in his career. He used the techniques he learned from them, along with his own personal touches to one day hold a head coach position.
“Obviously I played offensive line so to be an offensive line coach at the major FBS level would be a big dream of mine,” Segler said. “I hope to one day be a head coach as well and run a program of my own.”
In this profession there is so much movement and very few people get a chance to coach where they played.
“I was thrilled when I had the chance to come back and coach at SHSU where I went to school,” Segler said. “And to have this run of success these past five years has been an even bigger thrill for me since I am a Bearkat and I love this place so much.”
McGraw’s background at Midwestern State in Wichita Falls is exactly what head coach K.C. Keeler wanted. McGraw was the defensive back coach there since 2011.
The Mustangs went to three straight playoffs NCAA Division II and won two Lone Star Conference championships. He earned nothing but success at the Midwestern State program.
McGraw coached cornerback Dominique Rouse and safety Marqui Christian, who both received All-America honors.
Before his tenure with the Mustangs, McGraw coached the defensive backs at Ferris State in 2010 until his advancement to defensive coordinator for a couple of years.
McGraw started coaching on the prep level in Oregon, where he was the co-defensive coordinator and special teams coach at Marist (Ore). The high school accumulated a 23-1 record and captured a state championship in 2003 with a 13-0 record.
The defensive line had some worries last year during crucial moments in close football games last season. With Roberts’s addition to the team, sophomore All-American defensive end P.J. Hall should flourish, according to the coaches.
Roberts’ previous tenure before SHSU was defensive line coach at Southern Mississippi last season. He also coached at Tennessee State as defensive line coach from 2006 through 2009 and as co-defensive coordinator from 2011 to 2014.
He helped prep the Tennessee State Tigers to be the top 15 nationally ranked in FCS total defense in both 2013 and 2014.
Roberts’ first year as a coach was in 1997 at Hickman High School in Columbia, Mo.
According to Segler, coaching is a 365 day job. After one season, coaches are right into the next part of the puzzle.
“We started fall camp in August and finished our last game the week before Christmas,” Segler said. “That’s seven days a week we have to dedicate ourselves and our players to win a national championship. I guess that’s one of the things I love about the profession at the collegiate level is there is your routine and schedule changes based on if we are we in season, recruiting, or offseason.”
Segler, along with the new staff, believes SHSU’s gap is tight with the elite programs across the country. However, Keeler talks about the ten percent the program has left to be champions.
“It’s just that little bit from all parties involved with our program that we have to find a way to cultivate and get each person to that ten percent to achieve our goal of being national champions,” Segler said. “We just have to get over that hump and then we can see all of our hard work pay off.”
Sam Houston 2016 spring training starts on Wednesday, March 16.