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Hokies alumnus Davon Morgan welcomed as new head football coach at Bluefield State

Mar. 6—BLUEFIELD — When founding head football coach Tony Coaxum departed from Bluefield State University this past January, the timing seemed less-than-ideal for establishing a search for his replacement.

Be that as it may, one would be hard-pressed to find a candidate with a resume, CV and recommendations more ideal for the two-state region's venerable HBCU than the young coach who will be stepping up to take the reins.

New Big Blue head football coach Davon Morgan — a Virginia Tech player alumnus from the Frank Beamer era with impeccable credentials for the job at hand — was formally introduced by the university in a presser and welcome luncheon held at the Club on the Green in Bluefield, on Tuesday.

Lending surprise gravitas to the ceremony was the presence of more than a few of Morgan's mentors, including former Hokies Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster and Virginia Tech recruiting wizard and defensive coach Jim Cavenaugh, both of whom coached Morgan during his playing days in Blacksburg under Beamer.

After introductions by Bluefield State University Interim President Dr. Darrin Martin and Athletic Director Derrick Price, Morgan quickly won the room over.

"When I applied for this job, I wanted it. I had no idea that I would even be considered for the job. Honestly, I didn't. I believed in myself. I've always been raised to believed in myself ... I [knew] this is the place for me ... so I shot my shot," said Morgan, who, upon receiving the initial call from Price, asked the Big Blue AD to let him have the first interview.

"I told AD Price, 'Listen ... I want the first shot in the interview.' Good luck to all the candidates that applied, but I knew if I had that interview, whoever was coming behind me was going to have trouble," said Morgan, eliciting laughter from those gathered in the banquet hall.

Embodying a disarming blend of confidence and humility, Morgan pledged to give the program his best effort.

"I'm not going to make a promise, to say we will come in here and turn it around and win eight games," Morgan said.

"Now, I absolutely believe that. I promise you. My goal is go undefeated. I was raised that way," said Morgan, referring to Foster, Cavenaugh and other Virginia Tech coaches who turned him into an All-ACC defensive back as part of the all-time winningest class in Virginia Tech history between 2007 and 2010.

After Morgan spoke, Foster lent his seal of approval to his former pupil, also addressing the Bluefield State players who were present.

"His energy, his enthusiasm, his leadership, his work ethic ... what he's going to bring on a daily basis. He will be that leader, he is going to be that example, he is going to be the standard," said Foster, who remains at Virginia Tech as a special assistant to Athletic Director Whit Babcock.

"He's going to expect you young men to step up to that standard. And not just do it here and now, but every day and every moment of your time. And that's going to carry over on the field and that's going to carry over off the field," Foster said.

Morgan, who has been coaching at the college level for 13 seasons following a short NFL career, comes to Bluefield State from Florida A&M University, an historically black university located in Tallahassee, Fla. that competes in the Southwest Athletic Conference.

Morgan's tenure with the Rattlers was short, but decidedly sweet. He joined the program's staff in 2022, coaching safeties and nickel backs. Last year he was promoted to defensive pass game coordinator while retaining his position assignments as part of an historic FAMU team that went 12-1, earned its first-ever SWAC championship and defeated Howard 30-26 in the Celebration Bowl. The Rattlers boasted one of the nation's best defenses, ranking Top 10 in a dozen categories. Morgan's secondary was the top-ranked unit nationally at the FCS level.

"We had the number one secondary in the country. It's not a selfish thing. James Colzie, a Florida State grad played with Charlie Ward and won a national championship, he was my corner's coach. And my defensive line coach Milton Patterson ... without those guys, we wouldn't have been able to do half of the thing we done. We had a great core of men that were dedicated in perfecting the craft and the proof is in the pudding," said Morgan on the Club on the Green patio shortly after the formalities.

"The last two seasons, we only lost three games."

While Morgan's defensive credentials were more than validated at FAMU, he has also coached on the other side of the football. He obtained extensive offensive coaching experience at Emory & Henry under head coach Curt Newsome — another Beamer-era Hokies coach. With the Wasps, Morgan was the offensive pass game coordinator and worked with wide receivers. In addition to FAMU, Morgan's experience coaching for HBCU programs include stints at Virginia State, the Virginia University of Lynchburg, Alderson Broaddus and Elizabeth City. Virginia State and Elizabeth City are both CIAA member schools.

The SWAC is frequently a proving ground and stepping stone for future Power Five coaches. It is where Deion Sanders returned to the public eye as head coach at Jackson State — and relatively soon after moved up to take the head coaching post at Colorado University. Since winning the SWAC title, Rattlers head coach Willie Simmons has left FAMU to become a running backs coach at Duke. Morgan, meanwhile, chose Bluefield State University and a return to NCAA Division II football. He may harbor ambitions of coaching at a Power Five program some day, but his meticulous 'First 30-Days Plan' included in Tuesday's press kit indicates an eagerness to prove his administrative mettle from the Big Office.

While Coaxum, Morgan's predecessor, was the coach who got Bluefield State's football program moving from a 40-year-long dead stop, Morgan still has a grand opportunity to establish a formative imprimatur on the Big Blue football program that could last for decades.

"A lot of people have been asking me, 'Why Bluefield State? Why Bluefield State?' It's not 'Why?" It's 'Why not?'" Morgan said.

"I get an opportunity to be a head coach, one. Two, I take over a program that just returned football three seasons ago. And I'm familiar with the CIAA and I'm just looking forward to growing into the role of being a head coach. I wanted to kind of control my own destiny in this coaching thing. I thank the administration, I think AD Price, I thank the search committee and everybody for giving me this opportunity. And I don't take it lightly. I am a leader of men and this is a position where I have to be a leader of men.

" I just want to take everything I've learned through my years ... and bring it here and see how we look five to ten years from now," Morgan said.

His familiarity with the far-flung recruiting grounds of both the SWAC and CIAA should prove an asset to the program. It is worth noting that several local athletes were on FAMU's radar during his time with the Rattlers. He has no intention of overlooking the abundant football talent that is cultivated regionally on both sides of the state line.

"I'm excited to build relationships with the high school coaches in the area. I'm going to take it upon myself personally to reach out to every head coach in about a 250-mile radius. I want them to hear personally from me — first," said Morgan, who is eager for the 'honeymoon' to be over and to get to work.

"I'll get my guys in their respective areas and we're going to hit the ground running. Obviously, we've got to get spring ball going. We're a little behind, so we're probably going to get some winter workouts going next week. Then we get some spring ball going. We're going to keep things simple. We obviously want to see guys flying around. I'm going to have to evaluate. I want to be able to absorb everything. I want to learn everything that I can before I actually come in and put my stamp on something. Bluefield State has some great things to offer and you don't want to just do away with it because a new coach comes in, right? So you want to keep good things and upgrade the things that need work," Morgan said.

Price has had his share of both stress and sunshine during his time at athletic director at Bluefield State. On Tuesday, he was was still basking in the glow of the Big Blue men's and women's successful first-time forays into the CIAA basketball tournaments.

The announcement of Morgan was decidedly another occasion worth celebrating. Not only does the new Bluefield State University head coach have a history of developing players for the NFL (K'Von Wallace, Tennessee Titans; Jalen Elliott, Pittsburgh Steelers), he also has a reputation of holding his players to high standards in the classroom and community.

"I think he's really displayed a lot of what we're looking for in a head coach. Not just on the field, but also academically as well," said Price.

"I am very grateful for the dedicated efforts of our search committee for finding an exceptional candidate to lead our football program."