Naval Academy Athletics
Brian Newberry, Brian Norwood, Kevin Downing and P.J. Volker Join Navy Football Coaching Staff
Newberry will be Navy’s defensive coordinator, while Norwood will be the co-defensive coordinator
ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo announced today that Brian Newberry, Brian Norwood, Kevin Downing and P.J. Volker have joined the coaching staff on the defensive side of the football.
Newberry will serve as defensive coordinator and coach the safeties, Norwood will be co-defensive coordinator and coach the cornerbacks, Downing will coach the defensive ends and raiders and Volker will coach the inside linebackers. Returning defensive staff members Steve Johns will coach the strikers, Justin Davis will coach the nose guards and defensive tackles, while R.B. Green will be a defensive assistant.
“I am super excited to have Brian Newberry join our program,” said Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo. “He brings an edge and a style of defense that will get us back to where we belong. I am also ecstatic to have Brian Norwood join our staff. With almost 30 years of coaching at the highest level, he brings a deep reservoir of knowledge and expertise to our team. Kevin Downing and P.J. Volker are two rising stars in our profession-great coaches who are proven recruiters. Above everything, they are men of principle and character.”
Newberry was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Kennesaw State for the last four years, leading the Owls to the FCS quarterfinals in each of the last two seasons. He runs a multiple defense with 4-2-5 and 3-4 principles.
Kennesaw State ranked first in the FCS in fewest first downs allowed per game (13.5) and second in total defense (263.7 yards per game) in 2018. The Owls finished seventh in scoring defense, giving up an average of 15.4 points per game. The Owls also ranked 11th nationally in third down conversion defense.
In 2017, Kennesaw State ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense (15.5 points per game) and third in turnovers gained (35). The Owls picked off 24 passes, which ranked second nationally, and led the Big South in rushing defense (102.1 yards per game), pass defensive efficiency (117.0) and red zone defense (76.9 percent), while standing second in sacks (31).
The Kennesaw defense forced an incredible 56 turnovers over the last two years, including 37 interceptions.
Individually Newberry helped develop 2017 All-American Bryson Armstrong and 2016 All-Big South honoree Dante Blackmon.
Winner of the prestigious Jerry Rice Award (National Freshman of the Year), Armstrong captained an airtight defense in 2017, finishing first in the nation in fumbles recovered (four), while leading the Big South in sacks (11 solo). He finished second in the conference in tackles (114) and third in tackles for loss (12.5).
Blackmon, who led the Big South and ranked second nationally with six interceptions, became the first Owl to participate with an NFL team when he was invited to mini-camp and signed to an Undrafted Free Agent contract by the Indianapolis Colts.
Newberry also coached All-Big South safeties Derrick Farrow, Taylor Henkie and Jace White while at Kennesaw.
Newberry joined the Kennesaw State coaching staff after spending the 2012 season as defensive coordinator at Division II Northern Michigan.
Prior to his one season at Northern Michigan, Newberry served as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., in 2011 where the Tigers improved their scoring defense by 16 points per game and total defense by 85 yards a contest.
Newberry’s coaching experience also includes four seasons (2007-10) as defensive backs coach at Elon and five years (2004-06, 2001 and 2002) as defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at Washington & Lee. He also served as a graduate assistant/defensive line coach at Rice during the spring of 2004, spent one season as an assistant defensive backs coach at Lehigh in 2003 and began his coaching career at Southern Arkansas where he was a graduate assistant coaching the defensive backs and wide receivers in 1999 and 2000.
While defensive backs coach at Elon, Newberry mentored five players who earned All-Southern Conference honors and in 2009, the Phoenix defense ranked fifth nationally in total defense.
In 2004, Newberry’s Washington & Lee defense produced a school-record 43 sacks and ranked among the Division III leaders in rushing defense. The Generals’ defense led the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in pass defense, rush defense and scoring defense in 2005 and in 2006, Washington & Lee forced 30 turnovers and ranked among the nation’s leaders in pass defense.
Newberry played collegiately at Baylor and graduated in 1998 with a bachelor’s of science degree in education. He helped lead the Bears to the Southwest Conference co-championship and an appearance in the 1994 Alamo Bowl and to a No. 5 national ranking in total defense in 1995.
Newberry and his wife, Kate, are expecting their first child in March.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be coaching at the Naval Academy,” said Newberry. “I am extremely grateful to Chet Gladchuk and Coach Niumatalolo for this opportunity. It is an honor and privilege to be able to coach and mentor these young men of character and to work with an outstanding group of coaches. My wife Kate and I are thrilled to be joining the Navy Football family.”
A 29-year coaching veteran, Brian Norwood returns to the Naval Academy after a 19-year hiatus. Norwood was the defensive backs coach at Navy from 1995-99 and in his first year at Navy he coached cornerback Sean Andrews to Second Team All-America honors. In Norwood’s second season in Annapolis, Navy finished at 9-3 – its best record since 1978 – and registered a 42-38 victory over California in the 1996 Aloha Bowl. With Norwood on staff, the Midshipmen posted back-to-back winning seasons (1996 and 1997) for the first time since a five-year run of winning campaigns ended in 1982.
Norwood comes to Navy from Kansas State where he was the program’s co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach for one year. Under Norwood’s direction, the Kansas State defense made the biggest jump in the Big 12 in pass defense, moving from last in the league (309.1 yards per game) to fourth (245.8). The 245.8 passing yards per game were the fewest passing yards Kansas State had allowed in the last five years.
Prior to Kansas State, Norwood was the associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator while also coaching the safeties at Tulsa from 2015-17. Norwood coached at Baylor from 2008-14, serving as the defensive coordinator from 2008-10 and the associate head coach and safeties coach from 2011-14.
During his three seasons coordinating the Bear defense, Norwood oversaw a unit that totaled nine All-Big 12 honorees and two All-Americans. During the Bears’ 2013 Big 12 Championship season, Norwood coached First-Team All-American Ahmad Dixon, while both of Baylor’s 2011 starting safeties, Mike Hicks and Sam Holl, earned All-Big 12 honors. Holl finished second on the squad with 113 total tackles and Hicks was third with 105, and each had three interceptions. In 2010, Norwood coached First-Team All-Big 12 honoree Byron Landor, who totaled 127 tackles.
Norwood, whose resume includes 13 bowl appearances, was an assistant under Joe Paterno at Penn State from 2001-07. During Norwood’s seven seasons in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions led the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense twice (2004 and 2005) and finished third on two occasions (2003 and 2006). Penn State ranked among the nation’s top 25 in pass efficiency defense four times, including a No. 4 ranking in 2004.
At the end of the 2007 regular season, the Nittany Lions’ defense ranked sixth nationally against the run (87.92 ypg), eighth in scoring defense (17.58 ppg), ninth in total defense (306.58 ypg) and 44th in pass efficiency defense (119.14 rating).
Norwood coached 2006 Big Ten interceptions leader and First-Team All-Big Ten safety Anthony Scirrotto, and developed All-Big Ten and NFL defensive backs Shawn Mayer (led conference with 144 tackles as a senior) and Calvin Lowry. He also coached 2003 Second-Team All-Big Ten pick Yaacov Yisreal.
In his lone season at Texas Tech, Norwood coached strong safety Kevin Curtis, a Second-Team All-American and First-Team All-Big 12 honoree, as the Red Raiders played in the 2000 Galleryfurniture.com Bowl.
Norwood’s first full-time coaching job was guiding the outside linebackers at Richmond (1992-94) after serving two years as a graduate assistant at Arizona (1990-91).
Norwood was a four-year letterwinner at both cornerback and safety at Hawaii (1984-87) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1988. He and his wife, Tiffiney, have five children: Gabriel, Jordan, Levi, Brianna and Zaccariah. Gabriel was a key member of George Mason’s 2006 men’s basketball Final Four team. Jordan played eight seasons in the NFL, including the 2015 campaign with the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos, while Levi was a four-year letterwinner at Baylor (2011-14).
“I am excited and consider myself blessed to have another opportunity to coach at the United States Naval Academy with Coach Niumatalolo, Coach Newberry and the entire staff,” said Norwood. “It truly is an honor to help lead young men who choose to prepare to serve our country while pursuing victory academically, athletically and socially. My wife Tiffiney and I also want to thank Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk for giving me an opportunity to return to a place I care deeply about.”
Downing just completed his fourth season as defensive ends coach at Kennesaw State, where he mentored a pair of All-Big South selections in Desmond Johnson and Tonarius Portress. Those two ends combined to record 13 sacks and 33 ½ tackles for a loss during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Downing previously worked alongside Newberry at Elon (2010-13) after spending four years (2006-09) as recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach at Winston-Salem State.
Downing coached the defensive ends (2010) and wide receivers (2011-13) at Elon. While serving as Elon’s wide receivers coach, Downing helped guide one of the top FCS talents in Aaron Mellette. In 2011, Mellette set an Elon and Southern Conference record with 1,639 receiving yards and led all of the FCS in both receptions per game (10.27) and receiving yards per game (149.00) on his way to being named to seven All-America squads and finishing fifth in the voting for the 2010 Walter Payton Award, the top individual honor at the FCS level. Phoenix receivers averaged 281.45 yards per game in 2011.
Downing helped Mellette again lead the Southern Conference in receiving in 2012 as the senior caught 97 passes for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was named to numerous All-America squads and placed eighth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award. Mellette became Elon’s first representative in the prestigious Senior Bowl and was a seventh-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2013.
Downing is a 2004 graduate of North Carolina Central University where he played football in 2001 and 2002. During the 2001 campaign, Downing played a key role in helping the Eagles’ defense become the top-rated unit at the NCAA Division II level. He earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education in 2004.
Downing and his wife, Nia, have three children, Kevin Jr., Kailey and Kaiden.
“I am very humbled and honored to have an opportunity to coach at the Naval Academy,” said Downing. “I would like to thank Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk and coach Ken Niumatalolo for this opportunity. I am so excited and look forward to coaching and helping shape these young men of character. My wife Nia and I look forward to joining the family.”
Volker served two seasons on the Kennesaw State defensive staff and was instrumental in the development of All-American Bryson Armstrong, who led the Big South in sacks (11), while ranked second in tackles (114) and tackles for a loss (12.5) in 2017.
Volker also tutored Kennesaw State linebacker Anthony Gore, who was named 2018 Big South Defensive Player of the Year. Gore led the team with 80 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss and six sacks this past season. Every linebacker coached by Volker at Kennesaw State made the All-Conference team.
As the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for Trent Miles’ program at Georgia State, Volker coached six All-Sun Belt Conference selections over four seasons (2013-16). In addition, he coached Joseph Peterson, the program’s all-time leader in tackles and a three-time all-conference selection.
In 2015, as the Panthers reached their first bowl game in school history, the team was led by the nation’s most improved defense. Georgia State led the nation by allowing 15 points fewer per game than in 2014 and improving by 122.3 yards per game and 1.92 yards per carry against the run. The Panthers finished in the top four in the Sun Belt in scoring defense (28.3 ppg), total defense (405.6 ypg), rushing defense (181.4 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (120.3).
Volker spent three years (2010-12) with Miles as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Indiana State, helping the Sycamores post three straight winning seasons. While there, seven Indiana State linebackers were named to the all-conference team, including three-time selection Aaron Archie, who was the program’s all-time leading tackler.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Volker was a three-year letterwinner and two-time all-conference selection at the College of Mount St. Joseph (Ohio). He was honored with the school’s Future Five Award, which honors alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years that have excelled in their profession and provided service to their communities.
He began his coaching career as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Thiel College. From there, he joined the staff at Thomas More College, a Division III program in Kentucky, where he coached the linebackers and served as the program’s recruiting coordinator.
He is married to the former Amanda Naseef, and the couple has two young daughters, Rosie and Ella.
“I am incredibly honored to join the football staff at the Naval Academy,” said Volker. “I want to thank Chet Gladchuk and Ken Niumatalolo for this opportunity. I am excited to mentor and coach these young men of character and future leaders of our country. My wife Amanda and I are thrilled to join the Navy Football family.”