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Napier Brings Impressive Resume to Cajuns

By Robbie Ross
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There are not many people in this world that can say they have been hired twice by Nick Saban. Louisiana’s new football coach can.

There are not many people in this world that can say they have been hired twice by Nick Saban.  The University of Louisiana’s new football coach is one person that can say that.  Six days shy of the 16th anniversary of playing for a National Title on the 1-AA as Furman University’s Quarterback, Billy Napier becomes a head coach for the first time.  Napier, a coach’s son from Chatsworth in Northwest Georgia, is no stranger to winning or championships; something he hopes to bring to the University of Louisiana. 

In his 15 seasons of coaching, Napier has worked under both Nick Saban at Alabama and Dabo Swinney at Clemson, part of 12 coaching staffs that led their team to a bowl game and winning two National titles while at Alabama.  During his most recent stint with the Crimson Tide from 2013 through the 2016 season Napier served as the Wide Receivers Coach.  Napier coached future 4th overall pick in the NFL Draft, Amari Cooper in his first two seasons of 2013 and 2014.  Cooper, the Crimson tide’s all-time leader in receptions, won the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 2014 recognizing him as the Nation’s best receiver.  In 2015 and 2016 ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley highlighted the Crimson Tide’s receiving corps under Napier with the Tide winning the National Title in 2015. 

During Napier’s first stint with the Tide as an Offensive Analyst in 2011, Alabama won the BCS National Championship.  In between his time at Alabama Napier spent the 2012 season as Assistant Head Coach and Quarterbacks Coach at Colorado State under former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. 

Seven of Napier’s first eight seasons coaching were at Clemson University under Tommy Bowden and Dabo Swinney.  Napier began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Clemson in 2003-04. The Tigers won nine games, including the Peach Bowl against Tennessee. The following season, Napier was a graduate assistant on defense, and gained his first experience with recruiting off the field.  After spending the 2005 season at South Carolina State University as the Quarterbacks Coach, the Bulldogs went 9-2 led by MEAC Player of the Year Quarterback Cleve McCoy, Napier returned to Clemson as the Tight Ends Coach and Recruiting Coordinator from 2006 to 2008.  In three seasons as Recruiting Coordinator, he recruited two top-25 classes, according to  The 2008 class was selected as the second-best in the country by Napier signed several players who went on to play in the NFL, including Kavell Conner, Crezdon Butler, Brandon Thompson and Marcus Gilchrist.  At the age of 29, Napier became the youngest coordinator in the nation.  The 2009 Clemson Tigers scored a then school-record 436 points and collected 54 touchdowns winning the ACC Atlantic Division. Quarterback Kyle Parker was named a Freshman All-American and nine players Napier coached from 2009-10 went on to have careers in the NFL.

Napier spent this past season as the Offensive Coordinator at Arizona State leading the Sun Devil offense to the eighth largest offensive turn around in FBS improving the 54th highest graded total offensive team in 2016 to the 14th highest graded total offensive team in 2017.  The Sun Devils also became one of the best red zone scoring teams in the nation under Napier, tied for first nationally in converting on 95.83 percent of its red zone appearances (46-of-48) with the only two unsuccessful trips in the red zone being when the Sun Devils took a knee late in the fourth quarter.

Prior to his coaching days, Napier was a two time All Southern Conference Quarterback at Furman University.  Napier won two Southern Conference Titles with the Paladins and led them to the National Championship game as a junior in 2001.  Perhaps his greatest day as a Paladin came against current Sun Belt Conference member Georgia Southern in the 2001 NCAA 1-AA Semi-Finals in Statesboro.  Napier led the Paladins to a 24-14 win over the Eagles snapping Georgia Southern’s 35 game home winning streak and handing the Eagles their first home playoff loss at the time.  Napier didn’t throw an incomplete pass in the game finishing 12 out of 12 for 159 yards and a touchdown.  In his career at Furman he completed 64.8-percent of his passes, a school record. As the team captain during a record-setting senior season, Napier amassed 2,475 passing yards, also a Furman record at the time, and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the nation's most outstanding FCS offensive player.  Napier’s coach his senior season Bobby Lamb praised him when hearing the news of his hiring at Louisiana, “Billy showed his potential to be a great coach early on in his playing days, acting as an extension of the coaching staff on the field at Furman.  Since then he has succeeded every place he has coached, and I have no doubt will be great for the Ragin Cajuns.” 

Napier inherits a Louisiana team that went 5-7 in 2017 and ranked 6th in the Sun Belt in total offense, 6th in scoring offense, 3rd in rushing offense and 9th in passing offense.  Napier will be the 26th Head Football Coach in University of Louisiana Football history.  

Robbie Ross - Robbie Ross is Southern Pigskin's lead SoCon writer. A 19-year veteran of the Furman Radio Network, Ross also spent time with the Georgia State Radio Network prior to his ventures with Southern Pigskin. He is a voter in the STATS FCS Top 25 Poll.