Blazer Football Announces Two New Coaches; Verpaele Promoted to DC

| March 3, 2017

VALDOSTA – Heading into the upcoming 2017 spring schedule, set to kick off later this month, Athletic Director Herb Reinhard, Head Coach Kerwin Bell, and the Valdosta State football program are pleased to announce the hiring of both David Rowe and Willie Tillman as the newest members of the Blazer coaching staff. In addition, linebackers coach Danny Verpaele was announced as the program’s newest defensive coordinator.

Verpaele will retain his linebacker coaching position while also assuming the role of defensive coordinator. The former Army West Point assistant coach joined VSU’s program prior to the 2016 season, and his ascension at VSU has provided a welcome opportunity for the University of South Florida graduate.

“This is a great opportunity for me here at Valdosta State,” said Verpaele on Thursday. “It’s been a goal of mine. When I started coaching, I always knew I wanted to work myself up to being a coordinator, and this is a great place to reach that goal. When I look at the lineage of coaches and players that have come through this university, it helps me realize how awesome and special this opportunity is.”

With the help of Verpaele’s tutelage in 2016, the Valdosta State defense led the nation with 27 interceptions, several of which were hauled in by his linebacker contingent. It was a successful season that Verpaele is looking forward to building on in 2017.

“We improved a lot throughout the season last year,” added Verpaele. “We’re going to move forward with the same system in place, and I want to continue to grow with that. No matter where you are, you always try to evaluate the things you did well, the things you didn’t do so well, and what you can do better. There are some new pieces this year, but Coach Bell has put together a great defensive staff with a lot of knowledge. We’re going to optimize our system based on the personnel we have in place.”

Rowe, who was named the new defensive backs coach for the Blazers this week, is a 2009 graduate of Rutgers University and served as a three-year starter for the Scarlet Knights. He has since established himself as a talented football coach at the collegiate level, with a wealth of experience obtained in a relatively short period of time.

“It’s an honor to have this opportunity to work at such a prestigious university,” said Rowe. “I look forward to helping our student-athletes continue to be winners both on and off the field.”

A former cornerback and safety during his playing career at Rutgers, Rowe transitioned into a coaching career in the summer of 2013 when he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by way of the Bill Walsh Minority Internship program. The four-month internship proved to be time well spent, as Rowe was picked up as a Defensive Assistant in September of 2013. His experience with the Bucs included direct work with Tampa Bay Safeties Coach Jeff Hafley.

Following his stint with the Bucs during their 2013 season, Rowe elected to further his education at Western Michigan while serving as a Graduate Assistant Cornerbacks Coach. His work there helped the Broncos become the number one ranked team in the Mid American Conference in pass efficiency defense. Following his time at Western Michigan, Rowe preceded his new position at Valdosta State as the defensive coordinator at Rockledge High School in Rockledge, Fla.

Tillman, a former four-year letter winner and two year starter as a wide receiver at Purdue University, brings a veteran presence to the Valdosta State coaching staff after having accumulated nearly 20 years of coaching experience.

Tillman, who will serve as the team’ she newest defensive line coach, kicked off his coaching career at his alma-mater as an assistant in 1997 and has since coached at multiple colleges and universities, including a recent three-year stint as the defensive coordinator at Florida Tech. As the shot caller for all defensive staff, player personnel, play calling, game planning, and recruiting, Tillman took the program from its inception in 2013, to a winning record in 2014, and then to a second place finish in the Gulf South Conference in 2015. He followed his time at FIT with a head coaching position at Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which ultimately led to his recent hire at Valdosta State.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to join the Valdosta State University football program.” stated Tillman this week. “I look forward to being a part of TitleTown USA, and I certainly look forward to working with Coach Bell and the VSU football staff.”

Tillman’s experience as a football coach throughout the years is made up of a host of highly respected programs at both the collegiate and professional levels. Since starting out as an assistant at Purdue, Tillman has added the Baltimore Ravens, Florida A&M, Murray State, and Bethel University to the list of programs where he has contributed his coaching talents.

Coach Bell and his entire staff will begin their spring schedule in just a few short weeks, beginning with their first practice session on Tuesday, March 21st. The spring schedule will carry on through the first week of April, leading up to the annual spring game, which will take place on April 8th at 2:00 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

Tuesday, March 21 – 4pm
Wednesday, March 22 – 4pm
Thursday, March 23 – 4pm
Friday, March 24 – 4pm
Saturday, March 25 – 9am
Tuesday, March, 28 – 4pm
Wednesday, March 29 – 4pm
Thursday, March 30 – 4pm
Friday, March 31 – 4pm
Saturday, April 1 – 9am
Tuesday, April 4 – 4pm
Wednesday, April 5 – 4pm
Thursday, April 6 – 4pm
Friday, April 7 – 4pm
SPRING GAME – Saturday, April 8 (Bazemore-Hyder Stadium) – 2pm

For more information regarding Blazer football as the official 2017 season approaches, visit

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