The search for UTSA’s second football coach officially came to an end on Friday, Jan. 15 when Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey and University President Ricardo Romo held a press conference introducing Frank Wilson as the successor to Larry Coker.
For the past six years, Wilson has served as the assistant head coach, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Louisiana State University (LSU).
In the most recent season, LSU led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) with an average of 256.8 rushing yards per game. His most recent protégé, Leonard Fournette, set an LSU record last season with 1,953 rushing yards on 300 carries — an average of six and a half yards per carry.
But his success in recruiting and developing players is what separates Wilson from other coaches. He is known across college football for his recruiting abilities, which should help elevate that aspect of UTSA’s program.
“Coaches and players gravitate to Frank Wilson. He was a part of my staff at Tennessee, and I can tell you firsthand that he develops players as well as anyone in college football,” said Alabama’s Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Lane Kiffin. “People talk about how great of a recruiter he is, but he is just as strong of a leader.”
In six seasons with LSU, five of Wilson’s recruiting classes ranked top-10 in the country and six of the running backs he coached during that time were drafted into the NFL.
Wilson’s recruitment style differs from others in that he strives to identify talented players early in their high school football careers, project what kind of players they will be by the time they graduate and develop relationships that will outweigh what other schools offer.
“When we identify the best players in the state of Texas, the best players in San Antonio,” said Wilson, “the relationship will be so genuine that when other schools come knocking, it will be hard for them to say no (to UTSA).”
Wilson is not only highly regarded by his peers, but also beloved by the players with whom he has worked over the years.
“It is very difficult nowadays to find a man with the integrity and loyalty that he displays on a day-in and day-out basis,” said Jeremy Hill, a running back who was recruited and coached by Wilson before being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. “It’s truly been a pleasure to say I have been coached by Frank, but more importantly to know him as family.”
UTSA was never short on candidates for the position, considering the timing of Coker’s resignation coincided with the American Football Coaches Association’s conference held in downtown San Antonio.
Former University of Houston Head Coach Tony Levine, current Houston Associate Coach and Co-Defensive Coordinator Craig Naivar and current Rice Head Coach David Bailiff were among the first round of candidates.
TCU Assistant Coach Curtis Luper was also an early candidate, but he withdrew his name after interviewing for the position.
The next round of candidates featured Nebraska Defensive Backs Coach Brian Stewart and Oklahoma State Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer. Jerry Briggs of the San Antonio Express-News reported on Jan. 13 that Spencer was a front-runner for the job, but conflicting reports that there had been no decision made yet turned out to be correct.
Wilson was signed to a five-year contract with a starting salary of $650,000, a figure that evenly matches the amount Texas State spent on their new hire, Everett Withers.
On Sunday, Jan. 17, UTSA released five of the six coaches that remained on staff, leaving only Wilson and Receivers Coach Tony Jeffrey. This leaves UTSA football with 8 assistant coaching vacancies to fill before next season, barring the elimination or addition of any positions.
It has yet to be seen how the cessation of Coker’s contract will affect the program financially, but filling 8 assistant positions could become quite costly, especially if UTSA football is serious about giving Wilson the tools he needs to take UTSA football to the next level.