The Charlotte 49ers named Francis "Biff" Poggi ("POE-jee"), associate head coach of the undefeated Michigan Wolverines, as the 49ers' third head football coach, Nov. 15, 2022.
A key architect behind the Wolverines' 2021 Big Ten Championship and berth in the College Football Playoffs, Poggi helped Michigan to an undefeated start and a spot among the nation's top four ranked schools in 2022.
"We are extremely fortunate to welcome Biff Poggi as our head football coach," said Director of Athletics Mike Hill. "He is a transformational leader and has a sterling reputation as a coach, having had phenomenal success at the highest levels of college and high school football. But he is much more than that. He has demonstrated it by pouring himself into young men and communities, and the results have been spectacular. We are thrilled to have Biff and his wife, Amy, join Niner Nation and the Charlotte community."
Poggi is currently in his third season with the Wolverines and his second as associate head coach alongside head coach Jim Harbaugh. He was also on Michigan's staff as the Wolverines advanced to the 2016 Orange Bowl.
Poggi was recently touted for his role in the Wolverines' current undefeated season in an article written by Bruce Feldman for The Athletic. Prior to his tenure at Michigan, Poggi founded and led the football program at Saint Frances Academy, a private high school in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, to national prominence.
Poggi grew up in Baltimore and served on the board of Saint Frances Academy. Poggi, who achieved great success as a hedge fund manager, chose to invest a significant amount of personal money into Saint Frances, including funding 65 scholarships. Under his leadership, Saint Frances became a national power, able to land scholarship opportunities for its student-athletes with programs such as Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan and others. The story was recently captured in the HBO documentary "The Cost of Winning".
"Biff is a unique leader who shares our vision for success for our football program and University as we join the American Athletic Conference," said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. "Most importantly, he shares our values for ensuring a Gold Standard experience for our student-athletes both on and off the field."
Prior to building Saint Frances Academy, Poggi led his high school alma mater, Gilman School, to thirteen Maryland state titles in nineteen seasons. Poggi played collegiate football at the University of Pittsburgh and Duke University, with coaching stops at Brown, Temple and The Citadel.
"Joining the Charlotte 49ers is an incredible opportunity," noted Poggi. "The great momentum created by the leadership of this University and its athletics program gives us every opportunity to build a successful pathway for so many young men in our region. For me, this is a full circle moment, a chance to pay forward the wonderful opportunities that were given to me as a young man. We can build a championship program at Charlotte, and I can't wait to get started."
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:
"Biff has been a tremendous asset to our University of Michigan Football program, providing support and mentorship to our coaching staff and players. He has a great football mind, knows how to prepare a team during the week and on game day, and is a coach that aims to change the lives of his players in a positive way. Biff is a trusted agent and known friend, and I know that his leadership and ability to develop a team-first culture will be a huge asset to the Charlotte 49ers."
Jim Harbaugh, University of Michigan Head Football Coach
"Congratulations to Mike Hill and the Charlotte 49ers for a great hire. Biff Poggi will generate excitement and success for the program. The players will love playing for him and the coaches will love working with him. Get ready to win!"
Nick Saban, University of Alabama Head Football Coach
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi named former NFL Super Bowl offensive lineman Kyle DeVan as the program's Associate Head Coach, Offensive Line Coach and Run-Game Coordinator in December. DeVan, who protected Peyton Manning during his playing career with the Indianapolis Colts, worked at Colorado, Michigan, Arizona, Southern Cal and Oregon State after his professional playing career.
"I'm very happy to have Kyle as the Associate Head coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator," Poggi said. "Kyle's NFL playing and coaching experience coupled with his extensive power five coaching experience makes him one of the top offensive line coaches in the country. Kyle was instrumental in helping to build the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line last year at Michigan. He's an excellent coach and our offensive line will be in great hands.
"I'm excited to join the 49ers program," DeVan said. "It's a great opportunity to help build a program and develop outstanding young men and football players. Charlotte has so much going for it and we are ready to get started."
He spent this past season as offensive line coach at Colorado after a season as offensive analyst at Michigan in 2021. At Michigan, he worked primarily with the offensive line and helped co-offensive coordinator and line coach Sherrone Moore produce the winner of the 2021 Joe Moore Award. All five of the Wolverines' starting linemen earned All-Big Ten honors as Michigan advanced to the 2022 College Football Playoff Semifinal Orange Bowl.
DeVan spent two seasons at Arizona before heading to Michigan. At Arizona, he coached the offensive line and was the run-game coordinator under head coach Kevin Sumlin. He spent the previous three seasons (2016-18) as offensive line coach at Ball State. He was the assistant head coach for the final two years. In his first season, the Cardinals posted its most rushing yards since 1978 with three games of 300+.
He was an assistant offensive line coach for head coach Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints for one season, concentrating on all aspects of the run game as well as pass protection game planning. In 2014, he was an offensive graduate assistant coach at Southern California under Steve Sarkisian. The Trojans went 9-4 with a 45-42 win over No. 25 Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. His coaching career began as an offensive graduate assistant working with tight ends at his alma mater, Oregon State, in 2013.
DeVan, a Second Team All-PAC-10 selection for the Beavers, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008 with Washington, and spent 12 weeks on the New York Jets practice squad. He worked as a substitute teacher at Vacaville (Calif.) High School (math, history and physical education) for a brief time before playing arena football. He spent the spring of 2009 with the Boise Burn of the arenafootball2 league before landing with the Indianapolis Colts for three seasons (2009-11).
He started 25 games at guard for the Colts and was a member of Indy's 2009 AFC champion team. One of the linemen who blocked for NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning, he started at right guard in Super Bowl XLIV against New Orleans. He would close out his professional career with the Philadelphia Eagles (2011) and the Tennessee Titans (2012), eventually starting in 30 games overall.
RIMINGTON NOMINEE FOR THE BEAVERS
A native of Sacramento, Calif., DeVan lettered in football and wrestling at Vacaville. He earned his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Oregon State in 2008. He was a three-time honorable mention Pac-12 All-Academic team member and a two-time Rimington Award nominee as a candidate for the nation's top center. The Beavers were 38-24 in his five seasons and he helped lead OSU to bowl victories over Notre Dame (2004 Insight Bowl), Missouri (2006 Sun Bowl) and Maryland (2007 Emerald Bowl). He played in the 2008 East-West Shrine game to polish off his collegiate career.
He and his wife, Erin, have two children, son Bode Chandler and daughter Lola Rose.
Charlotte 49ers head football coach Biff Poggi named Maryland co-Offensive Coordinator Mike Miller as the 49ers' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in December.
Miller has spent the last four seasons at Maryland. He served as Tight Ends coach each season and added co-Offensive Coordinator duties in 2022. In 2021, he was the Passing Game Coordinator. Miller, who was born in Irmo, S.C. and spent much of his childhood in Charlotte, also coached at Charlotte Christian High School.
"Mike's name was at the front of every conversation and recommendation when I spoke to people about up-and-coming play callers," said Poggi, who was named 49ers' head coach in November. "He has coached with Brian Daboll and Nick Saban at Alabama, Dabo Swinney and Mike Locksley. These men are some of the best in our profession. Mike is a great teacher and mentor. Players love him and he loves his players. We have a star in Mike Miller."
"I'm humbled and thankful that coach Poggi would offer me this opportunity," said Miller. "Megan, our children and I are thrilled to be back home. Being a former high school coach in Charlotte I always thought that Charlotte football was a sleeping giant. Hearing coach Poggi's vision, I know he's going to take this place to a standard of excellence that people in this community can be proud of.
We came here to develop young people and we came here to win, and win now. I can't wait to get started."
The high-scoring Terrapins have posted 27 or more points in 11 straight wins, including a 54-10 win over Virginia Tech in the 2021 New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Miller helped the Terps set numerous school records as Passing Game Coordinator during the 2021 season, including the single-season program marks for total yards (5,740), passing yards (3,960), completions (339) and completion percentage (69.3%). Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa also set seven single-season Maryland records, including program best marks for passing yards (3,860), completions (328), completion percentage (69.2) and passing touchdowns (26, to tie school record).
Tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo hauled in 52 receptions for 447 yards and five touchdowns to rank first in the Big Ten in receptions in conference games (41) and second in receiving touchdowns (five). Fellow tight end Corey Dyches had 19 grabs for 208 yards and four touchdowns. In Miller's first year leading the unit, Maryland's two tight ends, Okonkwo and Tyler Mabry, combined for 32 receptions for 356 yards and five touchdowns.
Miller was recognized by 247 Sports as one of college football's rising stars in their 2019 '30 Under 30' list. He was also named to the American Football Coaches Association's 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute in December of 2021.
He joined the Terrapins in 2019 after spending two seasons (2017-18) as an offensive graduate assistant at Alabama where he worked primarily with the Crimson Tide quarterbacks and wide receivers.
In 2018, Alabama's offense set school records for points scored (684), single-season total offense (7,830 yards) and passing yards (4,854) in a season. The Crimson Tide finished the season averaging 47.9 points and 527.6 yards per game. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was named first-team All-SEC, won the Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards, and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting and threw for 3,189 yards and a school-record 37 touchdowns. Wideout Jerry Jeudy, the 2018 Biletnikoff Award winner, caught 68 passes for 1,315 yards (19.3 avg.) and 14 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide won the 2018 SEC Championship and the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal Orange Bowl.
In 2017, Miller helped coach All-SEC first team selection Calvin Ridley, who hauled in 63 passes for 967 yards and five touchdowns as the Crimson Tide won the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship.
In 2016, Miller served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Charlotte Christian (N.C.) High School. Charlotte Christian finished the season 10-2 and averaged 40 points per game.
Miller helped coach the quarterbacks as a student coach at Clemson University in 2015. The 2015 Tigers had a school-record 11 consecutive games with at least 500 yards of total offense behind Deshaun Watson, who became the first player in FBS history with at least 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. The Tigers had a perfect regular season, won the 2015 ACC Championship and the 2016 College Football Playoff Semifinal Orange Bowl.
Originally a walk-on quarterback at UAB, he would go on to earn a scholarship in 2013. He began his career as a defensive student coach at UAB in 2014 and earned his degree in Communications from UAB in 2015.
Miller's father, Mike Miller Sr., played wide receiver at Ole Miss from 1975-79. His Grandfather, Art Miller, played offensive guard at Duke University for legendary head coach Wallace Wade from 1939-1942.
He and his wife, Megan, have three children, Bo, Grisham and Mary Caitlin.
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi announced Baltimore Ravens defensive assistant Ryan Osborn as the 49ers Defensive Coordinator in January 2023. Osborn will also oversee the outside linebackers unit.
"I had the opportunity to work with Ryan last year at the University of Michigan," Poggi said. "Coach Oz brings NFL and major college football experience. He's coached at Florida, Michigan, and Mississippi State as well as the Baltimore Ravens. He is incredibly bright, understands the entire defense, and helped build Michigan's defense as one of the best in the nation and has been continuing to do so with the Baltimore Ravens. Players love playing for Coach Oz."
"I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work for Biff Poggi and the 49ers," said Osborn. "I look forward to working alongside the great defensive staff we have hired to build a championship caliber defense here at Charlotte."
"Ryan played an integral role in what we've built both here in Baltimore and at the University of Michigan in 2021," said Ravens' Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald. "I've learned a lot from him over the last two years and appreciate his friendship, work ethic, and dedication to the players. The Ravens will miss him moving forward but we are excited to see his vision come to life in Charlotte! Their football program is getting a great football coach; but more importantly someone who will work tirelessly to invest in his players every day."
Osborn worked this past year as a defensive assistant with the Baltimore Ravens, who reached for the 2022-23 AFC Playoffs. He worked closely with the outside linebackers and defensive linemen. During the regular-season, the Ravens' stout defense ranked third in the NFL in rushing defense (92.1 rush yds allowed/game) and points allowed (18.1 / gm) and fifth in sacks.
Prior to his arrival in Baltimore, Osborn was a defensive analyst for Michigan, which produced the nation's eighth-ranked scoring defense (17.4 ppg), while finishing 20th in yards allowed per game (330.9) and 11th in red zone touchdown efficiency (45.7%). Michigan's defense was led by defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and outside linebacker David Ojabo. Per Pro Football Focus, the duo combined for 116 pressures, more than any other pair in the country. Hutchinson, who earned 2021 first-team All-American honors and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, now stars for the Detroit Lions. He produced a career-high and single-season school-record 14 sacks. Ojabo, a 2021 second-team All American who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, added 11 sacks and five forced fumbles, setting a school record for most forced fumbles in a single season.
Osborn guided the defensive line and served as co-Special Teams Coordinator at Tennessee-Martin in 2020 prior to his move to Ann Arbor, Mich. He spent two years as a defensive graduate assistant for head coach Dan Mullen at both Florida (2018-19) and Mississippi State (2016-17).
With the nationally-ranked Gators, Osborn helped produce one of the top defensive units in the country. The Gators ranked first in the SEC in interceptions (15), tackles for loss (97), sacks (46) and red zone defense (64.5 percent) and second in total defense (299 ypg) and scoring defense (14.4 ppg). His duties included running the opponent offensive scout team along with being responsible for the opponent run game and pass protection on weekly scouting reports.
At Mississippi State in 2016, he assisted linebackers and graded the group after every game. He assisted with the outside linebackers in 2017 while assuming responsibility for run game and pass protections.
His previous coaching stops include positions at St. Norbert College (2014-15), Amherst College (2013) and Maine Maritime Academy (2011-12).
Osborn earned his bachelor's degree from Bridgewater State University and his master's degree from Mississippi State in 2017.
Charlotte 49ers head football coach Biff Poggi named former Ole Miss standout Wayne Dorsey as the program's defensive line coach in December 2022. Dorsey, who played professionally following his collegiate career, has been the defensive line coach at Saint Frances Academy in Baltimore, Md. since 2018 and has overseen the development of a multitude of NCAA FBS linemen.
Dorsey worked from 2018-2020 at Saint Frances with Poggi, who coached and helped start the Panthers football program. Dorsey remained with the Panthers for the last two years of his five-year stint under head coach Messay Hailemariam.
"Wayne is a first class person and a gentleman," said Poggi. "He has great respect from his players. Wayne has sent players on to schools like Michigan, Alabama, Ole Miss and Maryland. In five years, he developed the best edge players in the country. We just got better at Charlotte."
"I'm incredibly excited to join the staff at Charlotte with Biff," Dorsey said. "I'm excited to work with him again and help our staff build a product that the university, the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina will be proud of."
Saint Frances enjoyed a remarkable 38-3 record during Dorsey's four non-CoVID years and sent numerous defensive linemen onto Power Five schools, including several Top 100-rated recruits.
In 2022, the Panthers enjoyed a 9-1 season against a national schedule. The Panthers allowed 10.88 points in their nine wins, which included victories in Illinois, Texas, Florida, South Carolina and Hawaii. In 2021, the Panthers were 8-1 and held six opponents to single digits. Saint Frances played just three games during the 2020-21 COVID season. In 2019, the Panthers were 11-1 and in 2018, Dorsey's first season with the program, Saint Frances enjoyed an unbeaten 10-0 campaign.
A Baltimore native, Dorsey led Ole Miss in sacks (3.0) and TFLs (5.0) in 2012 despite playing in just six games before suffering a season-ending injury. The defensive end was a midseason All-SEC honoree before the injury. He played in 18 games with 10 starts in his two seasons at Ole Miss after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he was the No. 1 junior college recruit in the nation by Scout.com. He collected 30 tackles and 5.0 sacks in six games at defensive end for Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2009. He earned honorable mention All-America honors from the NJCAA after helping lead the Bulldogs to a 10-2 record and a No. 8 national ranking.
Following his collegiate career at Ole Miss, Dorsey signed as an undrafted free agent with the Oakland Raiders in 2012 and spent time in the AFL with the Iowa Barnstormers (2014) and New Orleans Voodoo (2015).
A two-sport star at Southwestern High School in Baltimore, Dorsey continued at Milford Academy Prep in New Berlin, N.Y. before heading to Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.
He received his degree in general studies from Ole Miss in 2018.
He and his wife, Kia, will be relocating to the Charlotte region.
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi named Greg Froelich as the 49ers' Special Teams Coordinator and Running Backs Coach in December 2022. Froelich was a special teams and running backs analyst at Michigan from 2017-20 before joining the staff at Illinois as a special teams analyst for the past two years.
"Greg comes to us from the university of Illinois where he played an influential role in one of the nation's best special team units," Poggi said. "Greg is incredibly hard working, smart, and loyal. Greg coached running backs and special teams at Michigan and has a substantial Big Ten football resume as a player and a coach. Greg was Jay Harbaugh's top special teams/running back recommendation to bring to Charlotte."
"I am unbelievably excited to join this incredible staff Coach Poggi has put together," Froelich said. "We are going to do special things here at Charlotte. This city and this university are ready for a dominant college football team and we intend to show the American all about the 49ers! We are going to coach these young men not only to be better football players but to be the best student, son, brother, father, and leader of their community that they can be."
SPECIAL TEAMS SUCCESS
In 2022, the Illini boasted the Big Ten's top punt returner in Isaiah Williams and Froelich helped coach the Illini's 2021 special teams unit that was ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPN's SP+ rating. Punter Blake Hayes and kicker James McCourt both earned All-Big Ten honors. Hayes, the Illini's all-time leading punter, was a Ray Guy Award semifinalist and McCourt was a two-time Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week and tied a program-record with four field goals of 50 or more yards.
During his four years as analyst at Michigan, he again helped produce some of the nation's top special teams units, including the 2019 version that was ranked No. 2 in the nation by Football Outsiders. In 2018, punter Will Hart was a Second Team All-America and Ray Guy Award finalist.
Froelich graduated from Michigan with a degree in political science in 2017 and completed his master's degree in public policy in 2019. He played offensive line and fullback for the Wolverines from 2013-17 and earned two varsity letters. He was named to the Big Ten All-Academic Team in both 2017 and 2018.
Charlotte 49ers head football coach Biff Poggi continues to build his first coaching staff in impressive fashion, adding Auburn quarterbacks coach Mike Hartline as the 49ers' Passing Game Coordinator and Wide Receivers coach.
"Mike is from a coaching family. He was born to be a coach," Poggi said. "Mike is a special person, a person of great faith and a family man. He will love and develop our players. He has NFL and SEC experience and is a consummate professional."
"My wife and I couldn't be more excited to join the 49ers football program and Coach Poggi's staff," Hartline said. "Getting the opportunity to make a difference for young men in college football is why I do what I do, and seeing how Biff has done that for numerous years made it a no-brainer to work for him and for this team."
Hartline was promoted to quarterbacks coach at Auburn in November after serving as an offensive analyst. He was offensive coordinator at Ohio Dominican University for three seasons prior to heading to Auburn.
In 2021, Hartline's Panthers offense averaged 381.5 yards per game with a pair of First Team All-Great Midwest Conference stars in running back Frederick Pitts and wide receiver David Turner. In a shortened 2021 spring season, the Panthers produced G-MAC co-Freshman of the Year Travis Whittaker. In his first season at ODU, the Panthers pass completion pct. of 62.9 ranked 13th in the nation.
Hartline worked at Cincinnati for two years as the offensive quality control coach and assistant quarterbacks coach. He helped the Bearcats to an 11-2 record in 2018, including a victory over Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl and a win at UCLA.
Prior to his time with the Bearcats, Hartline was at Ohio State for two years, working with quarterbacks Cardale Jones, JT Barrett, Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins. He also spent one season coaching at West Broward High School.
Hartline, who was a 2010 all-Southeastern Conference selection as a quarterback at Kentucky, was also named the Offensive MVP of the Liberty Bowl in 2008. After his collegiate career, he had stints in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011 and New England Patriots in 2012.
Among the coaches Hartline has coached or played under are Urban Meyer, Luke Fickell, Tim Beck and Joker Phillips. Mike's brother, Brian Hartline, played with the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns. Brian is currently an assistant coach at Ohio State, his alma mater.
A native of North Canton, Ohio, Hartline graduated from Kentucky with a degree in exercise science. Hartline is married to his wife, Jennifer.
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi named Greer Martini, a former standout linebacker and team captain at Notre Dame, as the 49ers' Linebackers Coach in December 2022. The rising young assistant joins a growing list of coaches that Poggi has identified as he continues to build his first staff.
"I'm really happy to have Greer running our linebacker room," Poggi said. "He comes with a great recommendation from Brian Kelly at LSU. As a former four-year starter and captain of the Notre Dame football team, as well as his NFL experience, he's exactly the kind of person I want developing and mentoring our linebackers. Greer is a young, enthusiastic rising star."
"I'm excited by the opportunity to develop and create a winning culture here at Charlotte, and to join this incredible staff that Coach Poggi has put together," Martini said. "We will win now and take the American by surprise. This city is ready for a big time college football program, and that's exactly what we will deliver here at Charlotte."
POWER FIVE EXPERIENCE
Martini has worked with both LSU and Vanderbilt over the last two years. Martini was a graduate assistant at LSU during the 2022 season after serving as a defensive quality control assistant at Vanderbilt in 2021.
Martini, a four-year letterwinner for the Fighting Irish, played professionally for the previous three seasons. In 2020, Martini played for the XFL's Dallas Renegades following a season with the Salt Lake Stallions of the Alliance of American Football. He had 55 tackles in eight games with the Stallions before the league folded. After his success with the Stallions, he earned an invite to the Minnesota Vikings training camp in 2019. He began his professional career in 2018 as a member of the Green Bay Packers practice squad.
NOTRE DAME TEAM CAPTAIN
During his four playing seasons from 2014-17 at Notre Dame, Martini collected 190 tackles with 14.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. A native of Cary, N.C., Martini was named a team captain and was a national semifinalist for the 2017 Campbell Award, commonly referred to as the "Academic Heisman". He graduated from Notre Dame's Mendoza School of Business with a degree in finance in 2018. In 2018, he was selected by the Atlantic Coast Conference to receive an ACC Post-Graduate Scholarship.
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi announced the hiring of John Morookian as offensive tackles and tight ends coach in December, 2022. Morookian has served as the Offensive Line Coach at Kansas, Akron and Tiffin and spent this past season as an Offensive Analyst at Michigan.
"I've had the pleasure of coaching with John this past season. The tight ends and tackles will be very well coached," Poggi said. "He has excellent playing experience and has a wide range of power five conference coaching experience. John has a great relationship with the players and is an excellent recruiter because he is a sincere human being. He has a special talent for developing players, and we are very fortunate to have him at Charlotte."
"I couldn't be more excited to join Coach Poggi and the new staff he has put together at Charlotte," said Morookian. "Surrounded by some of the best high school talent in the country and an incredible city, we plan on winning on and off the field! The future is bright in Charlotte!"
Morookian helped Michigan to an undefeated Big 10 Championship in 2022 and a berth in the College Football Playoffs. Prior to his time in Ann Arbor, Morookian was the Offensive Line Coach at Akron in 2021. In 2020, he was promoted to Offensive Line Coach at Kansas after initially being hired as Offensive Senior Analyst.
He spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Iowa State as an offensive quality control assistant and helped the Cyclones to three-straight bowl games. Iowa State regularly appeared in the national rankings and won 23 games during his time there. In 2018, as the Cyclones went 8-5, broke the school record for conference wins in a season (six), posted their best conference finish in 40 years and advanced to the Valero Alamo Bowl.
He was also a graduate assistant at Indiana (2017) and his alma mater, Toledo (2014). In 2015 and 2016, Morookian was the Offensive Line coach at Tiffin University, a Division II school in Ohio. Tiffin recorded an 8-3 record, averaged 434.5 yards of total offense and scored 31.4 points per game in his final season at the school. In 2014, Morookian was on Matt Campbell's Toledo staff as a graduate assistant, helping the Rockets go 9-4 and earn a berth in the GoDaddy Bowl.
He began his coaching career as the tight ends coach at Findlay (Ohio) from 2012-13.
49 STRAIGHT STARTS
A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Morookian was a four-year starter on the offensive line for Toledo from 2008-11 where he played in two bowl games and started 49 straight games at right tackle. He earned his bachelor's degree from Toledo in 2011.
John is married to his wife, Katharine.
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi has named University of Buffalo defensive backs coach Rod Ojong as a defensive backs coach on his burgeoning staff. Ojong joins the 49ers from a unit that produced the top-ranked recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and earned bowl eligibility in 2022.
"Rod is a wonderful man," Poggi said. "Our players are going to love his guidance and the special bonds he forms with young people. He's an incredibly knowledgeable coach that knows the entire scheme. We are blessed to have Rod."
"I'm thrilled to join the staff here at Charlotte," Ojong said. "This is a program that I've admired from afar for a long time, and now having the chance to work with Coach Poggi and his staff is an exciting opportunity for me. Charlotte has everything you need to be successful both on and off the field, and I'm excited to help the young men we're recruiting to discover that for themselves. I want to thank everyone for the warm reception that my family and I have received since taking over these new duties. I look forward to seeing each of you in Jerry Richardson Stadium next fall."
SUCCESS IN THE SECONDARY
Ojong comes to the 49ers from Buffalo where he coached the safeties in 2021 and the defensive backs in 2022. Buffalo, which became bowl eligible with its win in the 2022 season finale, led the MAC with 12 interceptions and ranked fifth nationally in turnovers caused. The defensive secondary allowed just 216.2 passing yards per game. Safety Marcus Fuqua led the team with seven INTs and he and fellow safety Keyshawn Cobb both recorded 60 or more tackles. In 2021, Buffalo ranked fifth in the MAC, allowing 221.2 passing yards while safeties Fuqua and Cory Gross ranked second and third on the team in tackles.
Prior to his two-year stint at Buffalo, Ojong served as the defensive analyst at Georgia in 2020 as the Bulldogs went 8-2 with a Peach Bowl victory over Cincinnati.
Ojong spent the previous two seasons in the FCS ranks, coaching cornerbacks at Furman in 2019 and at Austin Peay in 2018. He helped lead Furman to an eight-win season and a spot in the FCS Playoffs in 2019.
He was a defensive graduate assistant at North Carolina in 2016 and 2017 and was part of the defensive staff at Memphis that helped the Tigers post a 9-4 record and earn an appearance in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl. In 2014 he served as an assistant coach at West Georgia working with the strong safeties as the Wolves advanced to the super sectionals.
Ojong coached the outside linebackers and was also the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Lindsey Wilson College in 2013. The Blue Raider were ranked 18th in the final NAIA poll in only their fourth season of football.
He began his coaching career at Monmouth (Ill.) College, his alma mater, as a student assistant linebacker coach.
Ojong was a two-year letter winner and team captain at Monmouth College. He was an all-conference linebacker in 2011 and a member of two Midwest Conference championship teams.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., he graduated from Monmouth College with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education in 2012. He and his fiancee, Molly Penland, are getting married in the summer of 2023.
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi strengthened the 49ers secondary with the hiring of Justin Sanders as the 49ers safeties coach. Sanders, who has experience in three Power Five conferences, spent the last four years as the defensive backs coach at Texas Southern University following a three-year stint at back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Champion East Mississippi Community College.
"Justin is a fantastic person who loves his players and develops them holistically on and off the field, " Poggi said."He is a very talented and experienced coach and we are blessed to have him. Our safeties are in great hands with Justin."
"I am really excited to join the 49er program and the great staff that Coach Poggi has put together," said Sanders "Coach Poggi has a proven track record of building successful programs with great winning cultures and I believe Charlotte will be no different. We're looking forward to teaching and leading these young men to excel on and off the field."
Sanders has been effective in coaching a ball-hawking defense. This past season, TSU led the Southwestern Athletic Conference with 17 interceptions, four of which were returned for touchdowns. The Tigers added 33 pass break-ups (PBU). In 2021, TSU had 10 picks and 43 break-ups. In his first season, in 2019, the secondary also registered 43 PBU.
Sanders went to TSU after spending three seasons as secondary coach and special teams coordinator at nationally-acclaimed junior college power East Mississippi Community College from 2016-18. EMCC won back-to-back NJCAA National Championships and three consecutive MACJC State Championships during his tenure. EMCC went 33-2 during his time there and owned the no. 1-ranked scoring defense in the country in 2018.
Before joining the staff at East Mississippi, Sanders was a graduate assistant in the secondary at Texas A&M during a pair of eight-win seasons and back-to-back bowl game appearances in 2014-15. At Texas A&M, he coached NFL safeties Justin Evans (New Orleans Saints), Donovan Wilson (Dallas Cowboys).
Prior to his stint in College Station, Texas, Sanders began his collegiate coaching career at North Carolina in 2012-13. He spent two-years as a defensive graduate assistant for the Tar Heels and helped mentor 2014 NFL Draft selections Tre Boston and Jabari Price of the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings, respectively. Sanders was also a part of UNC's 2013 Belk Bowl-winning team.
A native of Pearl, Miss., Sanders started his coaching career as an assistant coach at Quitman (Miss.) High School from 2008-11. He served as defensive coordinator at Richland (Miss.) High School in 2011-12.
Sanders starred at Illinois and was a part of the team's 2007 Rose Bowl squad that had an impressive turnaround to finish 9-4 and post a win over No. 1-ranked Ohio State. He had 57 tackles, including 4.0 TFL, eight PBU and three forced fumbles. He would go on to sign a free agent contract with the NFL's Detroit Lions in 2008. He attended Northeast Mississippi CC and was named the 2005 MACJC North Division's Defensive Back MVP after helping the NEMCC Tigers to a 7-2 record, a postseason bowl appearance and a No. 15 final NJCAA ranking.
Sanders, a 2008 graduate of Illinois with a degree in Mathematics, and his wife, Ravonda, have a daughter Journee and a son Jackson.
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi named Jonathon Jacobson as the program's Assistant Head Coach and Senior Advisor in January 2023. Jacobson and Poggi's relationship spans almost five decades since the two were high school classmates and teammates at Gilman School in Baltimore, Md.
"I am so excited to have Jake in the 49er family," Poggi said. "He is one of the smartest people I know, and I trust him implicitly. He built a highly successful, complex organization from scratch, and I could think of no one better to partner with in building this program. Among other things, he will be primarily responsible for advice and counsel, being a sounding board for and mentoring our coaching staff, overseeing our analytics program and student-athlete development, including enhancing the internship options for our players. I am counting on him to give me honest feedback, even when I don't want to hear it."
"I am flattered that Biff asked me to embark on this journey with him," Jacobson said. "My goal is to do everything I can to help him and the staff build a world-class program that will help our student-athletes reach their full potential both on and off the field and one in which the University and all of Niner Nation can take great pride. I can't wait to get started."
Jacobson is currently the non-executive Chairman of HighSage Ventures, a private investment firm formed in 2019 to exclusively manage his family's assets and those of the One8 Foundation.
Prior to HighSage, Jacobson had an illustrious 30-year career as a professional investor first as a senior portfolio manager at Harvard Management Company and then as the CEO and CIO of Highfields Capital Management, a firm he co-founded in 1998, which invested over $10 billion on behalf of university endowments, foundations, pension funds and other institutional investors.
He and his wife Joanna are co-Trustees of the One8 Foundation, where a significant focus of grantmaking is dedicated to creating equitable access to the education students need to be successful in a rapidly-changing high tech world.
Jacobson received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He and Joanna have resided primarily in Boston and have three adult children.
Charlotte 49ers first-year head coach Biff Poggi named 16-year veteran Lewis Caralla as the 49ers Director of Strength and Conditioning in December 2022. Caralla spent the last four years as the Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach at Georgia Tech and served as the head strength and conditioning coach for three different NCAA Division I FBS programs before making his way to Atlanta.
"Lewis is one of the very best strength and conditioning coaches in college football today," Poggi said. "He has great experience at Michigan and most recently as head strength and conditioning coach at Georgia Tech the last four years. Lewis is a pioneer in strength and conditioning. He will develop our players spiritually, emotionally and physically. The players and coaches that have worked with Lew have benefited from his experience and dedication and their recommendations could not have been more impressive. Lewis is a foundational hire for Charlotte football."
"I couldn't be more excited to work for such a great person and coach in Biff Poggi," Caralla said. "I'm looking forward to working with him and his staff to build something special at Charlotte."
STRENGTH COACH OF THE YEAR
Caralla was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Buffalo in 2018 following stints as Director of Strength and Conditioning at Louisiana-Lafayette (2016-17) and North Texas (2015). He was named Football Scoop's 2018 Strength Coach of the Year during his time at Buffalo.
He served as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Michigan for three years (2012-14), at Mississippi State for one (2011) and at Georgia Tech.
His career began with an internship at South Florida in 2007. He was an intern at Virginia in 2008 and became a graduate assistant at Mississippi State in 2009-10.
Originally from Tarpon Springs, Fla., Caralla graduated with a bachelor's degree in wellness and corporate fitness from Defiance (Ohio) in 2008. He was a two-time all-conference running back and also earned academic all-conference accolades twice. He received a master's degree in kinesiology from Mississippi State in 2010. Caralla and his wife, Lori, have three children: Marshall, Ali and Ava.
Cory Sullivan joined the 49ers strength and conditioning staff in 2023. He comes to the 49ers from Georgia Tech where he was an assistant strength coach for The Yellow Jackets. As a member of the ACC program, he worked directly with the football program under Lewis Caralla’s leadership. Sullivan was responsible for the in-season injured athletes program. He was also the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the 2022 ACC champion cheer program at Georgia Tech.
In 2019, Sullivan became the Special Teams Coordinator and Defensive Line Coach at historic Clark Atlanta University. During his two seasons at CAU, his Special Teams units ranked top 3 in every major statistical category, including the top punt coverage unit and top kickoff coverage unit. During his short time with the Panthers, Sullivan coached two All-Conference players in OLB Rodney Lewis and P Ty Woods.
In 2016, he became the defensive quality control coach for at South Alabama working the outside linebackers and defensive line for the Jaguars. Sullivan was part of one of the top turnarounds in the country. South Alabama’s defensive unit ranked fifth most improved in scoring defense (-10.3). The Jaguars finished in the Top 5 in the Sun Belt Conference in pass defense, pass efficiency defense, tackles for loss and third-down defense. USA was one of two programs with multiple first-team all-conference honorees. The Jaguars upset SEC foe Mississippi State, nationally ranked San Diego State, and earned the program’s second-ever bowl berth when they played in the Arizona Bowl.
Before coming to South Alabama in 2015, Sullivan spent two years as a Defensive Graduate Assistant at Wyoming coaching the linebackers. He has also been an undergraduate assistant coach at Oregon, his alma mater. During his three seasons at Oregon, the Ducks went to three straight BCS bowl games, including a Fiesta Bowl win, a Rose Bowl victory, and two conference titles. During Sullivan’s three seasons in Eugene, the Ducks ranked in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense and turnovers forced.
Originally from San Jose, Calif., Sullivan was raised by Donna Sullivan. He graduated from Oregon with his Bachelor’s degree in Social Science in 2013. He earned his Master's degree in Leadership from South Alabama in 2017.