Tarleton football adds decades of experience to staff

TSU Sports Information

STEPHENVILLE — The Tarleton football team has added three members to the coaching staff, all with a definite thing in common — experience.

The Texans announced Wednesday that they have named Tyrone Nix as defensive coordinator, Scott Stoker as offensive backs coach, and Fred Tate as defensive line coach. Tarleton has also changed roles for two longtime members of the program, naming Brant Bailey the tight ends coach, and Jonathan Beasley the director of recruiting and football operations.

"I want to start by giving a special thanks to President Dr. James Hurley for his commitment to Tarleton athletics and to this football program," head coach Todd Whitten said. "By being able to add a 10th full-time member to this coaching staff, our levels of preparedness and development will be that much more enhanced, and we can truly say we have one of the best coaching staffs in the nation. So, thank you Dr. Hurley for believing in us and this program.

Todd Whitten

"I couldn't be more excited to announce the additions to our coaching staff, who all bring an enormous amount of NCAA Division I experience to Tarleton," Whitten said. "Tyrone Nix has proven to be an elite defensive coach for decades and has been around some of the best minds in college football for several years. Scott Stoker and I have a lot of history together, from playing against each other all those years ago, to coaching together at Sam Houston. He's well respected not only by me, but across college football. Fred Tate has been around the block with a special mind in regard to the defensive line, and I expect great things from his group.

"Brant Bailey and Jonathan Beasley have been with this program for a long time and there aren't many people I trust more than those two," Whitten said. "Bailey has shown he's ready to lead our tight ends, and I'm confident he can get them to emulate his own special Tarleton career at that position. Beasley has proven to be an excellent recruiter, and I know with his full focus being on that side of things, we can continue adding the best of the best here."

Nix has been a Division I coach for over 25 years, serving as the defensive coordinator for five previous D1 programs, including Ole Miss and South Carolina. He was most recently the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at UTSA in 2020.

"I'm grateful for the chance to join this elite program that has quickly shown they belong in NCAA Division I," Nix said. "I know my near-three decades' worth of experience at this level of college football along with the gifts and talents God has anointed me with can help elevate Tarleton Football even further, and I can't wait to get started. I want to thank God, Coach Whitten, Coach Reisman and Dr. Hurley for this opportunity."

Nix has spent 17 years as a defensive coordinator at the D1 level, holding that title at UTSA (2020), Middle Tennessee (2012-16), Ole Miss (2008-11), South Carolina (2005-07) and Southern Miss (2001-04). His other titles and stops include outside linebackers coach at Ole Miss (2019), safeties coach at Virginia Tech (2018), defensive analyst at Texas A&M (2017), and numerous defensive position titles among his full tenure at Southern Miss from 1995-2004.

In all, Nix has coached at seven different Division I programs, spending 15 years in Conference USA, nine years in the Southeastern Conference, one year in the Atlantic Coast Conference and one year in the Sun Belt Conference. He's a former Broyles Award finalist, given to the nation's top assistant coach. In the SEC, Nix elevated as high as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at both Ole Miss, under head coach Houston Nutt, and at South Carolina, under head coach Steve Spurrier. The Attalla, Alabama, native played four years at linebacker for Southern Miss from 1990-93 before returning to coach at his alma matter for 10 years.

Stoker has nearly 30 years of coaching experience under his belt, much of it as a head coach or coordinator. He most recently was an offensive/defensive analyst at Tulane following a five-year run (2016-20) at Louisiana-Monroe, serving as defensive coordinator, linebackers coach, and even interim head coach towards the end of 2020.

"It's great to once again be working with Coach Whitten, who I've known for quite some time," Stoker said. "We've built a great relationship and I know what he expects out of myself and out of the offensive backs group. Spring ball can't get here quickly enough."

Stoker was the defensive coordinator for three years at UTEP (2013-15) and four years at Sam Houston (2009-12), the first of which was with the Bearkats' head coach at the time, Whitten. Before joining Whitten's staff at Sam Houston, Stoker was the head coach at his alma mater, Northwestern State, for seven years from 2002-08.  He led the Demons to a 2004 Southland Conference co-championship and two NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearances (2002 and 2004).

The Alexandria, Louisiana, native was an assistant coach at McNeese State for eight years (1994-01). He was the offensive coordinator there in 1999 before moving to the other side of the ball in 2000, spending two seasons as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator. Stoker's playing career included an all-state recognition at quarterback in high school before heading to Northwestern State, where he led the Demons to the 1988 Southland Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA I-AA playoffs. Whitten's Stephen F. Austin team consistently matched up with Northwestern State in the 1980s, with both men leading their respective teams at quarterback.

Tate has been in the college ranks for almost 25 years, most recently serving as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Navarro College.

"I'm thrilled to remain in Texas and make the move back to Division I football, especially with a program like Tarleton," Tate said. "I've admired the work Coach Whitten has done with this team from afar. Getting the chance to join his staff and become a Texan is humbling, and I can't wait to join the Stephenville community."

Tate has coached at 15 different collegiate football programs, mostly as a defensive line coach, the same as his role with the Texans. Besides Navarro, he's been at Austin Peay (2018-19), UT Martin (2017), California (2014-16), Cincinnati (2013), Texas Tech (2012), Marshall (2010-11), Chattanooga (2008-09), Southern Miss (2005-06), East Carolina (2003-04), Middle Tennessee (2002), Southwest Texas State (2001), East Mississippi Community College (2000), Jacksonville State (1998-99) and East Central Community College (1997).

A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Tate served in the United States Army and was a member of the elite airborne unit stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Following his service, he played four years of college football, his last two at Southern Miss as a defensive lineman.

Bailey has been a member of Tarleton's administration the past two seasons after an illustrious four-year playing career for the purple and white. Last season, he was the director of football operations, following a season spent as a graduate assistant coach in the athletic performance program at Tarleton.

Bailey was a four-time All-Lone Star Conference selection at tight end for Tarleton. He transformed into a team leader and was a catalyst for two of the best football teams to take the field at Tarleton, helping the team to back-to-back LSC Championships and undefeated regular seasons in 2018 and 2019. He was a 2018 Don Hansen All-Region honoree.

Beasley is entering his 11th season at Tarleton, his last seven spent as the team's recruiting coordinator along with his assistant coaching duties. He's served as a tight ends coach, wide receivers coach and running backs coach, coaching three positional players of the year, three All-Americans and 13 All-Conference selections. Beasley has also had a major hand in bringing in the most elite talent this program has ever seen over the past seven years, many players who have went on to play professional football.

Beasley had an illustrious playing career himself, playing for three NFL teams among other professional stops at quarterback. He led his Kansas State Wildcats to a 21-4 record as the signal caller, throwing for 33 touchdowns and 4,642 passing yards. Last season, he was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame, along with his leader in college, longtime Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder.

Tarleton begins spring football in two weeks. The Texans' Spring Game is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 23 at Memorial Stadium.