The promotions include Chuck Hepola to associate head coach, Jeremy Atwell to assistant head coach and Mario Jeberaeel was named offensive line coach after serving as a graduate assistant.
Joining the staff are Tyler Donaldson (defensive line coach), Matt Clark (tight ends coach) and Mike Walker (defensive graduate assistant).
Hepola, who was named assistant head coach before last season, was promoted to associate head coach, filling the vacancy after Keith Uperesa joined the coaching staff in his home state at the University of Hawaii. Hepola, entering his third season, also serves as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Under his direction, the Colonels have had a running back named All-Southland in each of the last two seasons.
“Coach Hepola’s promotion to associate head coach is well deserved,” Stubbs said in a university news release. “It’s a position that I truly value because he’ll be in charge if I ever have to be away for any kind of circumstance. We share the same philosophy, so I know that he is perfect for the job.”
Atwell, the team’s defensive coordinator, was named assistant head coach. Atwell, heading into his fourth season, also coaches the linebackers. Last season, Atwell’s defense produced four all-conference honorees, including first-team cornerback Bobby Felder.
“Coach Atwell has worked very hard and the promotion was warranted,” Stubbs said. “I believe that these two titles will help these coaches as they progress in their careers.”
With the departure of Uperesa, Stubbs hired Jeberaeel, who previously served as a graduate assistant for two seasons with the Colonels, as offensive line coach.
“Over the past two years as a graduate assistant, Mario has showed me tremendous qualities,” Stubbs said. “He has basically been on a two-year job interview, so I knew I didn’t have to look very far to find a replacement. I know that he’ll be a positive addition to our staff.”
Jeberaeel, a Las Vegas native, lettered four years at UNLV before coaching in the high school ranks for one season. In addition to his graduate assistant position at Nicholls, Jeberaeel coached at several offensive line camps all over the country.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity to work with Coach Stubbs and this staff at a larger capacity,” Jeberaeel said. “Coach Stubbs has showed a great deal of trust in me, and I look forward to working hard every day to make this program a success.”
Two new faces join the Colonels as Clark and Donaldson round out the coaching staff. Both Clark and Donaldson come to Nicholls after serving as graduate assistants at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Clark was named tight ends coach after Adam Gardner left to pursue other interests. Clark lettered four years in college, one at Air Force and three at Western Washington, before being hired as an offensive graduate assistant at ULM.
“One thing that stood out about Matt was that he played at Air Force Academy, which is where one of my sons played,” Stubbs said. “I also knew of Matt from his father, who was the strength coach at Oregon when I was at Oregon State. So he’s been around football his whole life, and I know that he’ll be a great asset to our program.”
“I was very excited when I got the call from Coach Stubbs,” Clark said. “I liked the staff here, and when he offered me the job, I jumped on it. I had the opportunity to meet my tight ends. We definitely have some eager players, which I’m excited about, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Donaldson takes over as defensive line coach after Dustin Gisclair accepted a full-time position at Missouri Southern. Before coaching at ULM, Donaldson was a two-time all-conference honoree at the University of New Mexico, helping the Lobos to two bowl appearances.
At ULM, he worked as a graduate assistant in several areas of the defense, which ranked eighth in the nation against the rush.
“Tyler has tremendous experience coming from Louisiana Monroe, working exclusively with the defensive line,” Stubbs said. “He not only has great coaching ability, but he was an excellent player in the Mountain West Conference, being named all-conference twice.”
“I’m very excited to be at Nicholls and to work under Coach Stubbs,” Donaldson said. “I’ve met my defensive line, and I think we have a great group of players. I’m just ready for spring ball to start so we can get to work.”
Completing the staff changes is the addition of Walker as defensive graduate assistant. Walker, a Metairie native, lettered three years for the Colonels as a linebacker and is currently pursuing his Master of Business Administration.
“We’re very excited to have Mike stay in the program,” Stubbs said. “His work ethic and dedication will help us out tremendously.”