McNeill announces ECU football staff promotions

Published 10:50 am Friday, January 16, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS NEW DIRECTION: Ruffin McNeill exits the tunnel prior to the game against Central Florida. On Thursday, McNeill announced a series of staff promotions for the 2015 season.

NEW DIRECTION: Ruffin McNeill exits the tunnel prior to the game against Central Florida. On Thursday, McNeill announced a series of staff promotions for the 2015 season.


ECU Athletic Media Relations


GREENVILLE — East Carolina University head football coach Ruffin McNeill announced four staff promotions Thursday, including the appointment of Dave Nichol as the program’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

In addition, former offensive graduate assistant Garrett Riley will assume duties as the Pirates’ outside receivers coach, while Donnie Kirkpatrick has been elevated to assistant head coach and Brandon Jones has earned run game coordinator status.

“We are blessed to have one of the best staffs in college football and have worked tremendously hard to groom our coaches for the next step,” McNeill said. “These moves will aid us in scheme continuity, coaching language and recruiting cohesiveness. Our top priority is to maintain the level of offensive production and success, and to have teaching consistency during this transition is a critical part of the process.”

Nichol, who has served an active role on spread scheme offensive staffs that have made a combined 10 bowl game appearances since 2000, recently completed his third season as East Carolina’s outside receivers coach after joining McNeill’s staff in 2012.

For the third-straight campaign, Nichol’s unit provided ECU’s explosive offense with a big play threat in 2014, most notably with senior Cam Worthy, sophomore Davon Grayson, sophomore Jimmy Williams and freshman Trevon Brown. The quartet posted a combined 116 receptions for 1,791 yards and nine touchdowns for a squad that ranked third nationally in pass offense and fifth in total offense. Worthy became just the second outside pass catcher in school history to surpass the 1,000-yard mark and owned a team-high seven receptions that covered 35 yards or more.

As the Pirates’ eye in the sky from the pressbox over the past three years, Nichol played an integral role for an unprecedented level of offensive production that established successive single-season school records in passing yards (4,265 in 2013/4,835 in 2014) and total yards (6,086/6,929). In all, he has been a part of 70 combined individual or team single-game, single-season and career offensive standards that were tied or set during the course of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 campaigns.

“Dave is an outstanding offensive strategist, football coach and tireless recruiter who I have known since my days at Texas Tech,” McNeill added. “Over time, Dave has earned my trust and I have faith in his ability to run an exciting, fast-paced and aggressive offense that the Pirate Nation and our players will love. More importantly, I trust Dave’s ability to get the most out of our players, both on and off the field.”

Before his appointment at ECU, Nichol spent five seasons at Pac-12 Conference member Arizona. After arriving in Tucson as a graduate assistant in 2007, he was quickly promoted to full-time status as the Wildcats’ outside receivers coach a year later before adding inside receiver responsibilities in 2011.

While working with the offensive line during his initial campaign, Nichol assisted in the installation and operation of UA’s spread attack. His efforts helped boost offensive production by 130 yards per game over the previous system and arguably provided a foundation for a run of three consecutive postseason games.

Nichol spent the 2006 season at Baylor as a staff assistant contributing to the implementation of a spread offense that helped the Bears set numerous school single-season passing records, including yards, completions, completion percentage and touchdowns.

He enjoyed three bowl appearances as an offensive line assistant at alma mater Texas Tech before his move to Waco. While with the Red Raiders from 2003 to 2005, Nichol was part of an explosive unit that topped the nation in passing each season and shattered numerous school, conference and NCAA records.

Nichol was passing game coordinator, quarterbacks and receivers coach at Cisco (Texas) Junior College in 2002, directing a group that led the Southwest Junior College Football Conference in passing and finished second in total offense.

He was a football letterman as a receiver at Texas Tech, and worked as a student coach on the Red Raider staff after completing his playing career. Nichol assisted with quarterbacks and receivers during a pair of bowl seasons.

Nichol, 38, earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise sports sciences from Texas Tech in 1999 before following with a master’s in interdisciplinary studies from the same institution three years later.

Riley joined the Pirate staff prior to the 2013 season as an offensive assistant while pursuing a master’s degree at ECU. He spent both years working primarily with the quarterback position, while coordinating the defensive scout team and conducting video analysis.

He earned his first collegiate position in 2012 as running backs coach at Augustana (Ill.) College, helping rebuild a Vikings program that was 2-8 a year earlier into a 5-5 squad that improved its rushing total by 500 yards in the competitive College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW).

Riley, 25, earned a bachelor’s degree in general business from Texas Tech in 2012 and was a quarterback on the Red Raiders’ roster during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, which both resulted in bowl appearances. He transferred to Stephen F. Austin State in 2010 and helped the Lumberjacks to a Southland Conference title and a No. 1 FCS rank in both passing and total offense.

Kirkpatrick, who recently completed his 10th overall season on the ECU staff, also serves as the team’s inside receivers coach and recruiting coordinator in addition to his new appointment to an expanded leadership role within the entire program.

Jones will continue his duties as the Pirates’ offensive line coach, a position he accepted in 2010 as part of McNeill’s initial staff, while now having added responsibilities for coordinating East Carolina’s ground attack.