NACOGDOCHES, Texas (Press Release)– Stephen F. Austin head coach Clint Conque has announced the addition of veteran defensive coach Josh Lawson to the SFA coaching staff. A former defensive coordinator at the Division II level, Lawson will oversee the Lumberjack linebackers.
"I'm excited to be able to add Josh to our staff and look forward to what he will be able to contribute," Conque said. "With Josh we have another experienced assistant who has coordinator experience in the scheme (defensive coordinator) Jeff Byrd is bringing in. He is a veteran recruiter in the state of Texas that has been at a number of successful programs and will add some key experience and knowledge to our staff."
Lawson comes to Nacogdoches after spending eight seasons at Southern Arkansas, including the last five as the Muleriders' defensive coordinator. Under Lawson's guidance, Southern Arkansas saw a significant improvement defensively, allowing just 24.4 points and 319.9 yards per game in 2016.
In his first season as defensive coordinator in 2012, Lawson helped engineer a significant turnaround in the Muleriders' defensive efforts. Southern Arkansas ranked at least 50 spots higher in the national rankings in all five major defensive categories from 2011, including ranking sixth nationally in rushing defense per game, an improvement of 120 spots.
During his time at Southern Arkansas, Lawson worked with the Muleriders' linebackers before making the transition to defensive backs prior to the 2015 season. In his eight seasons in Magnolia, Lawson saw over a dozen of his players earn All-Great American Conference honors, including All-American defensive back Don Unamba, who spent time with the St. Louis Rams (NFL), Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL). He also oversaw recruiting efforts in both the East Texas and Dallas areas for the Muleriders.
Prior to his time at Southern Arkansas, Lawson spent two seasons as an assistant at Alabama-Birmingham, working with the Blazers' linebackers. That was preceeded by a one-year stint at Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference, serving as the Bengals' defensive line coach. Lawson also spent one year at Walker High School in Jasper, Alabama, filling the roles of co-offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach.
Lawson began his coaching career at Alabama in 2001, serving as a student assistant coach for two seasons before stepping into a graduate assistant role in 2003 and 2004. While in Tuscaloosa, Lawson assisted in two top-20 recruiting classes and was a part of the Crimson Tide's 2001 Independence Bowl and 2005 Music City Bowl teams.
A native of Berry, Alabama, Lawson earned a pair of degrees from Alabama, achieving his bachelor's degree in secondary education in 2003, followed by his master's in sport management in 2004. He is married to the former Meredith Jones.
Lawson will inherit a young, but talented Lumberjack linebacking group, including junior Ryan Woods and sophomores Teddy Britton, Spencer Choka and Anthony Jacobs. The quartet combined for 54 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2016 and will all have significant opportunities to make their presence known as SFA heads into its spring practice schedule.