December 16, 2015
Del Smith '05 Named New Wesleyan Head Football Coach
West Virginia Wesleyan is pleased to announce the hiring of Del Smith as the newest head coach of the Bobcat football program.
Smith, who has most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Bridgewater College, succeeds George Shehl who resigned last month after leading the Bobcats for three years.
Randy Tenney, West Virginia Wesleyan athletic director, had this to say about the hiring process and coach Smith – "There were many qualified candidates within the over 100 resumes we received, but we feel we have the right guy in Del Smith to move the Wesleyan football program forward."
Smith is excited for the opportunity to become the head coach of the Wesleyan football team.
"It was very clear from the beginning of this process that our President, Dr. Pamela Balch and our athletic director, Randy Tenney are committed to building a championship caliber program both on and off of the field," he said. "I am thankful to both of them and the entire search committee for this opportunity."
It will be a homecoming for Smith who played football for the Bobcats and is a 2005 graduate from Wesleyan. Smith's first coaching job was also at Wesleyan as he was tabbed by then head coach Bill Struble to oversee the linebacker corps following his graduation.
"The fact that Del is a graduate of Wesleyan made this a very comfortable decision for us," Tenney added. "He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of how successful small college football programs need to be ran – both on and off the field."
Smith is more than pleased to be returning to his alma mater.
"My wife Ashley and I met at Wesleyan 12 years ago," remarked Smith. "The Buckhannon community, West Virginia Wesleyan College and the football program hold a special place in my heart. I have always wanted to be the head coach of a small college program. Wesleyan offers the best education in the state and one of the best Liberal Arts educations in this region of the country.
"It is a very surreal experience returning to a place that you think so highly of. I have been asked on multiple occasions about my collegiate experience and have consistently said I would not have traded it for anything in the world. The impact that my high school and college coaches had on me is the reason that I chose this profession. I can say without a doubt that the education I received from the faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan had me more than prepared to enter the real world socially and professionally. I look forward to surrounding our current players with coaches and support staff that are committed to focusing on the details and developing the necessary skills for them to be successful in the classroom, in the community, on the playing field, and well beyond their time here at Wesleyan."
Smith will inherit a football squad that finished with a 2-8 record this past fall.
"In my two head coaching experiences prior to this one, I inherited football teams that had not experienced any recent success," said Smith. "I take great pride in changing the culture of a program. To me, last year's record is irrelevant. We are going to surround our football program with people who are committed to being part of the solution and concentrating on the details, not identifying past problems.
"Without getting into X's and O's, our fans can expect to see a team that is well prepared, plays hard, believes they can win, and plays the game with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and with respect for every opponent."
While at Bridgewater, Smith directed the Eagles' defense this past season that ranked No. 1 in passing defense and passing efficiency defense in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
"The opportunity to work for head coach Mike Clark at Bridgewater has been a blessing," remarked Smith. "As his record and tenure indicate, he truly is one of the best football coaches in the country. We played eight freshmen in some capacity this year on defense. We played our best defense vs. teams that were balanced and or committed to throwing the football. Our youth showed on several occasions, but overall this was a great group of young men to coach and I will miss them very much."
Smith spent one previous year at Bridgewater, the 2010 season, as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. His kick-off return team ranked third nationally in return yards.
Smith also spent three seasons with NCAA Division I FCS Wagner College where he was the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. The Wagner defense ranked sixth nationally in scoring and rush defense in 2007.
Prior to his current time at Bridgewater, he was the head football coach at Bishop O' Connell High School in Virginia. While there, he was named the 2012-13 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and Arlington County Coach of the Year.
His other high school experience includes a head coaching stint at Blue Ridge School in Charlottesville, Va. where he led that program to its first state championship game in two decades. He was the 2009-10 Old Dominion Football Conference Coach of the Year and the Virginia Independent Conference Coach of the Year.
Smith feels his experience at the high school level is a bonus when it comes to hitting the recruiting trail.
"I have been fortunate enough to recruit Virginia, Maryland, DC and New Jersey among other locations as a college football coach," stated Smith. "Having also been a head high school football coach, I have a great understanding of the process and what is important from both perspectives. I feel very fortunate to have excellent relationships with both college and high school coaches within a five hour radius of Buckhannon. There is no question that meaningful relationships are the backbone of the recruiting process."
During his playing days at Wesleyan, Smith was a linebacker on the 2002 and 2003 back-to-back WVIAC championship teams.
"I earned several starts during my career and was active on special teams," remarked Smith. "More important than anything was the bond that was formed between the players on our team. What we lacked in talent, we made up for by being very close."
Smith will get thrown into the preverbal coaching fire as the Bobcats will open their season on the road this fall against Shepherd, who is currently preparing to play in the NCAA Division II championship game.
"The Mountain East has come a long way since I played in the old WVIAC," remarked Smith. "I am very proud of what our conference has accomplished and hats off to the coaches and players at Shepherd for making an incredible run. I hope that they finish it off in Kansas City, it would be great for the league."
Smith and his wife Ashley, a 2004 graduate of Wesleyan and four-year member of the swim team, will be relocating to Buckhannon in the weeks ahead.
There will be a scheduled press conference at a later date to introduce coach Smith to the Wesleyan community.
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