Mary Hardin-Baylor's Defensive Coordinator Candidates

Photo Courtesy Tyler Apache Athletics

Share or Save for Later

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Save to Favorites

Last week, reported Mary Hardin-Baylor defensive coordinator Jack Johnson left the program to pursue work opportunities outside of football. Sources have indicated Johnson desires to spend more time with his family, which recently welcomed a new member.

Johnson is an alum of UMHB and coached linebackers for seven seasons before being promoted to defensive coordinator when Larry Harmon was promoted to head coach following the retirement of the legendary Pete Fredenburg in 2022.

Sources indicate Harmon is keeping the search for the next defensive coordinator secret, which leaves a range of options to fill the position. Harmon may choose to promote an assistant coach currently on the staff, and sources believe whoever is hired will run Harmon’s defensive system. 

However, if Harmon decides to relinquish control of the defense, there are multiple candidates that could lead the Cru defense.


Thomas Rocco, Temple High School defensive coordinator

Rocco recently accepted the defensive coordinator position for Temple, which would be his first experience in Texas high school football. That is unless he becomes the next defensive coordinator at UMHB. Rocco was cornerbacks coach at Sam Houston last season after leading Tyler to a 14-15 record during three seasons as head coach. Rocco has assistant coaching stops at Midwestern State, West Texas A&M, and Blinn

Mark Carey, UMHB special teams coordinator/defensive line coach

According to multiple sources, the apparent choice should Harmon promote from within is Carey. Carey is a UMHB alum, which Harmon has preferred while filling out his staff for the last two years. Carey has coached the defensive line since 2017 and was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2022. He was the co-defensive coordinator at Texas Lutheran and helped lead the Bulldogs to three conference titles and the program’s first NCAA playoff appearance.

Cade Gray, Howard Payne co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach

A young coach on the rise, Gray would be a solid addition if UMHB prefers an outside voice. Gray graduated from East Texas Baptist in 2017 and has served as defensive coordinator at Christian Heritage Classical and Edgewood before moving to HPU to serve as co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for the Yellow Jackets. HPU’s defense finished second in the American Southwest Conference in total yards allowed last year behind UMHB.

Will Snyder, McMurry associate head coach/defensive coordinator

Snyder would be an outstanding choice for the Cru and could immediately elevate the defense to the top of NCAA Division III. Although it’s unlikely he would leave the War Hawks, the defensive coordinator position at UMHB would be a step up, considering the Cru have facilities on par with FCS teams. Snyder is another coach on the rise in the industry and has been mentioned among candidates for Schreiner’s head coach opening. McMurry’s defense shined last season, allowing 20.9 points per game, which was third in the ASC behind outright champion Hardin-Simmons and UMHB.

Jordan Collins, unemployed

Collins is another rising young star in the industry who would benefit from Harmon’s experience while providing a fresh voice. Collins spent the last five seasons at ETBU, where he was defensive line coach for four years, before being promoted to defensive coordinator last season. The Tigers' defense finished in a three-way tie with HPU and HSU for the most turnovers forced in the ASC (21) last year. Collins finished his playing career at UIW, where he helped the Cardinals secure the Southland Conference title and an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs in 2018.

This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.

Sign In