Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman filled the final two vacancies on his coaching staff for the 2013 season, the school announced Tuesday. Former Moc Rusty Wright has been hired to coach the team's linebackers, while Brandon Cooper will serve as defensive assistant.
Wright was a four-year letter winner at UTC (1992-95), and he caught over 50 passes in his career as a tight end, playing alongside future NFL players Terrell Owns, Jerry Ellison and Marrio Greer.
It will be Wright’s second stint as an assistant at his alma mater after spending seven seasons on the UTC staff (1999-2002), where he served in various roles, including coaching the linebackers, tackles, tight ends, special teams, as well as the junior varsity squad.
Wright has spent the last two seasons building a new program at NAIA-member Reinhardt University in Waleska, Ga., where he served as defensive coordinator. Prior to his stint at Reinhardt, Wright spent the 2010 season as the defensive line coach at Gardner-Webb, and also coached four seasons at Miami (Ohio) University, helping the Redhawks to a pair of Mid-American East Division titles.
Cooper, who takes over as a defensive assistant pending University approval, spent the last two seasons at Jacksonville State, where he coached the cornerbacks.
He helped lead the Gamecocks to the Ohio Valley Conference Championship in 2011, when the JSU defense led the OVC in rushing defense (144.9 ypg), scoring defense (24.8 ppg), third-down defense (33.3 percent) and interceptions (16).
A.J. Davis was an All-OVC corner that season for the Gamecocks, and he’s currently playing professionally with the New Orleans Saints. In 2012, Cooper guided cornerback Jermaine Hugh to freshman All-American recognition as well as a spot on the the OVC All-Newcomer team.
Before joining the Gamecocks, Cooper spent three seasons as cornerbacks coach at his alma mater, UT Martin. The Skyhawks led the league in total defense in 2010, allowing just 299.3 yards per game, and they also led the conference in passing defense, pass efficiency defense, first downs and third-down defense.
Cooper was a four-year letterman for the Skyhawks (2003-06), and he helped lead UT Martin to its first-ever Ohio Valley Conference Championship as a senior in 2006. He was a teammate of current UTC offensive line coach Alex Atkins.