|New horizons for Charlotte 49ers football as spring drills arrive|
|Practice opens with heightened expectations|
|Published Thursday, February 13, 2020 10:00 pm|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|The Charlotte 49ers, whose 7-6 finish in 2019 was the first winning season in school history, open spring drills Feb. 18. The spring game is March 21.|
Spring football is about finding out what you have.
That starts on Feb. 18 for the Charlotte 49ers, whose spring game is set for March 21 at 3 p.m.
The 49ers made it clear they know what they have in first-year coach Will Healy by extending his contract through Jan. 31, 2026 earlier this week. The university’s board of trustees also approved a $55,000 raise, bringing his salary to $755,000. They also extended the contract of athletics director Mike Hill. Healy said that Hill wanted to extend his contract during the season when Charlotte stood 2-5. Little did either know the 49ers would go 7-6 for the school’s first plus-.500 record, with a five-game win streak to end the regular season. They also went to their first postseason game, the Bahamas Bowl, which they lost to Buffalo.
“I’m so glad that people expect us to go to bowl games, but my thing is, let’s win bowl games,” Healy said. “Let’s win conference championships.”
Healy said he does not want another dollar added to his contract; rather any money the school wants to dedicate to the coaching staff should go to his assistants. Charlotte’s staff took on three hires and one promotion after the season. Mark Carney was promoted to offensive coordinator, and will continue working with quarterbacks.
“When you are hiring new coaches, you’ve got to take your time, and feel really good about it, and not rush the decision,” Healy said. “We took a lot of time. Sometimes I overthought it, but I think we’ve got a coordinator who knows how I want things done, that obviously from a culture perspective matches what we want in that room. That’s an extremely important position. As an offensive coordinator, he’s addressing half your football team on a daily basis, and making sure the message is consistent, the relationships are really good and the culture is, in that room, the way you want it to be.”
Charles Bankins, who was hired as special teams coordinator, was Healy’s coach at Richmond.
“There are three guys in your program who address your entire team on a daily basis—it’s me, it’s our strength coach and it’s Charles Bankins,” Healy said. “I played for him. I know how successful he’s been on special teams, and I would say really his best special teams player ever was probably myself. I know how it’s done. I know how much time he puts into it. I think that’s a huge addition for us. Special teams is an area that we did not excel in a year ago, and we have to make sure that is a big part of our success.”
Lee Grimes joined Charlotte as offensive line coach.
“I know what he was like as a player—tough, hard-nosed, very coachable, and I think he coaches his guys the same way,” Healy said. “We’re going to have a toughness about our offensive line. We’re going to have smart, intelligent guys who play extremely hard, that are fundamentally sound, and know our scheme.”
The new linebackers coach, Adam Braithwaite, coached with Healy at Chattanooga, where Braithwaite was defensive coordinator.
“Our defenses were consistently ranked in the top of FCS football,” Healy said.
The 49ers 2020 signing class consists of 25 players, including Vance High tight end Donta Armstrong and Mallard Creek offensive lineman Arabee Muslim. Fifteen players are listed on offense.
Charlotte also added transfer running back Tre Harbison, who left Northern Illinois with consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons as a redshirt junior. The Shelby native attended Crest High.
“My first conversation with Tre was, ‘listen, you’re a 1,000-yard back in the Mid-American Conference,’” Healy said. “There were people who told us they thought he was one of the best backs in the MAC a year ago, some said the best. The transfer portal right now, you can put your name in there, and you can get recruited heavily, quickly. I said, ‘this has to be a decision for you on do you want to come be the hometown hero, or do you want to get shopped around and get recruited again?’ He was committed quickly. He wanted to be back close to home.”
|This was Lambert's team Healy led to a bowl game. Now he get to recruit his own players. They can only get better providing nobody get hurt.|
|Posted on February 17, 2020|
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