JONESBORO, AR – Arkansas State head football coach Blake Anderson has announced that Allen Johnson has been named the Red Wolves’ safeties coach.
Johnson brings over 15 years coaching experience at both the collegiate and high school levels with him to A-State, most recently spending the last three seasons at Lamar University as the assistant head coach from 2012-13 and the defensive coordinator in 2011, while also overseeing the secondary all three years.
Johnson was part of Lamar’s coaching staff charged with reviving a program that took the field in 2010 for the first time since 1989. Competing in the NCAA FCS as a Southland Conference (SLC) member, the Cardinals led the league in both pass defense and pass efficiency defense in 2012 and 2013 with Johnson serving as the secondary coach.
Not only did Lamar’s secondary function as one of the top units in the SLC, the group boasted several players that were recognized for their individual efforts under the direction of Johnson. Safety Chad Allen and cornerbacks Branden Thomas and Tyrus McGlothen were All-Southland Conference choices during their career. McGlothen earned first team recognition in 2013 when he posted 81 tackles, seven tackles for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery.
Prior to his time at Lamar, Johnson coached the cornerbacks at the University of Texas-El Paso for three seasons. While at UTEP, Johnson coached such star defensive backs as Cornelius Brown, Melvin Stephenson and Clarence Ward, all of whom played briefly in the National Football League. Johnson’s final season at UTEP (2010) saw the Miners make their first appearance in a postseason game since 2005, competing in the New Mexico Bowl.
Before going to UTEP, Johnson spent the 2007 season as the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Midwestern State University, which fielded the top defense in the Lone Star Conference (LSC) that year. In going 8-3 that season, Midwestern State led the league in scoring defense (18.6 points-per-game average), total defense (294.2 yards-per-game average) and rushing defense (93.9 yards-per-game). The Mustangs also ranked third in the LSC in pass defense and pass defense efficiency.
In 2006, Johnson served as the quality control coach at Oklahoma State University, helping lead the Cowboys to seven wins and an Independence Bowl victory. He doubled as the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at Blinn College in 2005, helping the team qualify for the National Junior College Athletic Association playoffs.
Johnson started his coaching career as a defensive graduate assistant coach at Texas A&M-Commerce in 1999 before being elevated to a full-time position as running backs coach in 2000. After his two-year stint on the Lions’ coaching staff, he spent the next four seasons in the high-school coaching ranks at Gaither HS (2001) in Tampa, Fla., at Plant HS (2002) in Tampa and at Newman Smith HS (2003-04) in Carrollton, Texas. He worked with the secondary at all three high schools and was also the defense coordinator his lone season at Gaither.
Johnson, who earned his bachelor's degree in health and kinesiology at Texas A&M University-Commerce in 1999 and his master's degree in the same field a year later, played collegiately at Kilgore College, Central Oklahoma and A&M-Commerce. He is currently on course to earn his doctorate in educational leadership from Lamar University in December of 2014.
After taking a break in his college career to serve in the U.S. Air Force, Johnson earned All-Lone Star Conference South Division honors and a trip to the Snow Bowl as a senior in 1998. He also competed for the A&M-Commerce track and field team and served as president of the school's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Johnson, who was an all-district defensive back at Desoto (Texas) High School, and his wife, Jennifer, have three daughters - Jayla, Kyra and Olivia.