Citadel names Harrell defensive coordinator

Blake Harrell

New Citadel football coach Brent Thompson filled his vacant defensive coordinator spot Friday by promoting inside linebackers coach Blake Harrell to the job.

Harrell replaces Maurice Drayton, who left after two years as defensive coordinator to take an assistant coaching job with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

Harrell came with Thompson and former Citadel head coach Mike Houston from Lenoir-Rhyne in 2014.

“Blake Harrell is one of the best defensive minds I have ever worked with,” Thompson said. “We have been together on the same staff since 2010, and he has proven to be a fantastic coach. Coach Harrell played a major role in exceptional defenses here at The Citadel and at Lenoir-Rhyne. His promotion provides stability for our coaching staff and cadet-athletes in a system they have had success running and are comfortable within.”

Earlier, Thompson hired former Lenoir-Rhyne and Citadel assistant Lou Conte as the Bulldogs’ new offensive coordinator, replacing himself at that position.

Harrell will continue to coach inside linebackers, but will yield his duties as special-teams coordinator to A-backs coach J.P. Gunter.

“I am excited to be named defensive coordinator at The Citadel,” Harrell said. “Coach Thompson and I have worked together for many years, and I’m looking forward to continuing to build on the championship foundation we set last season. The Citadel produces fantastic cadet-athletes, and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of developing them on and off the field.”

Harrell, a 2002 graduate of Western Carolina, was hired at Lenoir-Rhyne in 2007 and coached linebackers and special teams, and also served as recruiting coordinator. In 2013, he was the Bears’ run-game coordinator.

The Bulldogs are set to begin spring practice on Feb. 23.