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Brown completes staff with two coaches, two graduates

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech football coach Watson Brown has completed his staff for the 2010 season, naming two assistant coaches and adding two former Golden Eagle players as graduate assistants.

The staff’s new assistant coaches are Larry Crowe and Ron Sigler, while Chris Grimes is the graduate assistant to work with the defense and Brandon Barnes will serve as the staff’s administrative assistant.

“We’re ready to go, and I really like the makeup of this staff,” Brown said. “I feel fortunate to be able to bring in two coaches the quality of Larry and Ron. They are not only outstanding, experienced coaches, but they are exceptional men. I believe our players will benefit tremendously from working with coaches such as Larry and Ron.

“Chris and Brandon are also going to be good for our program,” Brown added. “They both played here, understand what we’re trying to do with this football program, and they are also outstanding young men.”    

Larry Crowe is a coaching veteran with experience in both the college and professional ranks. He will work as a volunteer assistant coach with the team’s tight ends, kickers and punters in his first season and will also serve as the program’s recruiting coordinator.

A native of Hueytown, Ala., Crowe was a standout athlete both at Hueytown High School and later at Jacksonville State. As a player, he went to the NCAA Division II World Series twice with the Gamecocks and played three seasons at shortstop from 1972 to 1974.

Crowe, 60, returned to his alma mater as a coach from 1976 to 1980, working with the baseball team, before taking a position with the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL in 1981. Under head coach Raleigh Dotch, the Stallions won the Eastern Conference championship in 1985.

He was at UAB as an assistant coach to begin the 1986 season, helping to establish the Blazers first as a club team through the ranks of Division III, I-AA and eventually to I-A alongside Brown. At UAB, Crowe coached the tight ends and special teams.

He was on the staff at UAB until 2007, working as Director of Football Operations and coaching the special teams, before taking the same position at Samford University in 2007. After one season (2008) out of coaching, Crowe returned to the profession in 2008 as the offensive coordinator at Billingsley (Ala.) High School.

Ron Sigler will work with the team’s talented group of wide receivers.

A native of Mobile, Ala., and a graduate of UAB, Sigler played his collegiate career under Brown at UAB and began his coaching career under the Golden Eagle mentor as a student assistant with the Blazers. He has spent the past 11 years as an assistant coach at Midfield High School in Birmingham, Ala.

Sigler, 36, was a standout athlete at McGill-Toolen High School in Mobile, competing in football, basketball and track & field. His college career was spent playing on Brown’s team at UAB from 1993 to 1996. Originally a runningback, he moved to the slot receiver and eventually played the H-back/tight end role in Brown’s system because of his athletic versatility

He earned his degree in psychology from UAB in 1997 and in 1999 he embarked upon his career in coaching as an assistant at Midfield High School. He spent the next 11 years as the offensive coordinator at Midfield, helping the team to eight area titles and the AHSAA playoffs in nine of the 11 years. The team won an average of nearly 10 games per year and his potent offense averaged 37 points per game.

Chris Grimes returns to his alma mater to fill a role as a graduate assistant coach. A former cornerback known for his hustle and hard-hitting style of play, Grimes will work with the defense.

After a redshirt season in 2003, Chris became a fixture on the field for the Golden Eagles during the next four years, playing in 39 contests and starting 25 contests. He chalked up 158 total tackles including 101 unassisted tackles from his cornerback spot

He earned a reputation of being an extremely hard-hitting defender with a knack for getting to the ball and making punishing tackles. In addition to his stops, he also recovered seven fumbles during his career, caused two fumbles and broke up 16 passes. He had three career interceptions and finished with eight tackles-for-loss.

He was a two-way player for coach Don Thomas at LeVergne High School, starting at tailback and free safety. He rushed for 3,650 yards and finished his prep career with 231 tackles for the Wolverines.

He recently served as an assistant coach at LeVergne High School under head coach Will Hester. In that position, he coached the defensive backs and special teams.

Chris graduated from Tech in 2008 with a degree in multidisciplinary studies.

Brandon Barnes, 25, will provide support to the Golden Eagles in his first season as administrative assistant. Barnes was a starter in the offensive line during his four-year career with the Golden Eagles from Tech 2004 to 2007.

He graduated in December 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, specializing in criminal justice. Now back at his alma mater, he’s enrolled in the MBA program.

A native of East Ridge, Tenn., Brandon was a team co-captain and three-year starter for coach Tim James at East Ridge High School. A standout on both sides of scrimmage, he helped the team to consecutive playoff appearances including the region title as a junior. He was also a three-year letterman on the track & field team, finishing as state runnerup in the shot put as a junior.

After his prep career, Brandon originally signed to attend East Tennessee State, but when the school’s football program was eliminated he made a smooth transition to Tennessee Tech. He played all but one game as a redshirt freshman in 2004. He was a regular in the offensive line for the next three years, including starting 22 consecutive games over the final two years. With Barnes up front, Tech had seven different OVC Offensive Player of the Week winners during his career.

In 2007, Barnes became just the fourth offensive lineman to win Tech’s Sonny Allen Leadership Award.

In his role as Administrative Assistant, Barnes will work in a variety of assignments to support the Tech coaching staff.