In what is probably the most important coaching hire in Hank Small’s tenure as athletic director at Charleston Southern University, the school introduced Jamey Chadwell as its head football coach on Thursday afternoon.

Chadwell, 36, becomes the third head coach in the program’s 23-year history, and comes to CSU after one season as the head coach at Division II Delta State. Chadwell is no stranger to Charleston Southern, having served on Jay Mills’ staff from 2004-2008, the last two years as assistant head coach.

“From the start, Jamey was a man we had on our short list as someone we felt had all of the things we were looking for in our next coach,” said Small, who also hired Mills in 2003. “We wanted a coach on the way up in the profession and who had experience as a head coach.

“We also sought a man who fit the mission of our university. Jamey had experienced our program first hand and was a part of the staff during the most successful run of our program’s history. We are very excited about what he brings as a man and a coach and we’re very confident in his ability to take this program to new heights as our head coach.”

During Chadwell’s time at CSU, the Buccaneers won 28 games, including the Big South Conference championship in 2005 and a school-record nine wins in 2006.

He left CSU for his first head coaching job at North Greenville College, guiding the program to 22 wins in three seasons.

Chadwell says he left CSU to gain experience as a head coach with the hope of one day having an opportunity to return as head coach.

“As a coach, you have dreams and goals, things that you want to accomplish, and being the head football coach at Charleston Southern University has been one of my goals,” said Chadwell, who never sold the house that he and his wife bought near campus. “I feel a wide range of emotions. Having spent time here as an assistant, I grew to love this place and love these people. I am so excited about this opportunity. I’m thankful for this opportunity because this is where I wanted to be.”

Chadwell will bring energy and enthusiasm to the program and hopes his personality will be reflected by the way his teams play on Saturday afternoons.

“We will be aggressive in everything that we do,” the coach said. “We are going to play with energy and passion.”

The first priority for the new coach is recruiting. The staff, which has four openings at the present time, will seek to solidify the recruiting class by National Signing Day on Feb. 6.

More than two-thirds of the current roster is comprised of players from outside the state. Chadwell is focused on changing that trend.

“From day one our staff will reach out to the coaches all through this state and will make it known that in-state recruiting will be our priority,” he said. “We have to get in the high schools during the spring. We have to let coaches know what we’re about and how their kids will be treated once they get here. We’ve had kids from this state in our program and they have had great experiences.”

The kids have other choices and we don’t get them all, but if we can sign good players from this state, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Charleston Southern is coming off a 5-6 season in 2012, its third straight losing campaign. Chadwell, whose wife Solmaz gave birth to their second child Sunday night, is ready to hit the ground running.

“I’m meeting the team, getting with the coaching staff, and we’re going to hit it hard,” said Chadwell. “It’s been a whirlwind the last week but it’s an exciting time for me and my family.”