Southern offensive coordinator Chennis Berry has been hired as head coach at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and is one of three Jaguar assistants who will not return in 2020.
Jaguars quarterback coach Matt Leone is leaving to become offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Carolina Central. Wide receivers coach Chris Coleman is leaving for personal reasons. Southern coach Dawson Odums confirmed all three will not return but Odums was not available for comment.
Benedict College announced Berry’s hiring Tuesday. He replaces Mike White, a defensive-minded coach who was fired after going 19-30 in five seasons at Benedict.
It’s the first head coaching job for Berry, who spent eight seasons at Southern, three as offensive line coach and added the titles of assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for the past five. Benedict is hoping to juice up the Tigers offense. Southern averaged 33 points per game, was ranked 13th in rushing in FCS and won back-to-back SWAC West Division titles the past two seasons.
“I’ve been under a lot of great head coaches and learned a lot of things about what I have to do,” Berry said Tuesday. “So I’m excited about my first opportunity to be a head football coach.
“I thought we ran an offense that was explosive, putting guys in place to make plays and make people defend them. Make people defend the entire field and put the ball in the hands of guys who can make plays. That’s what it’s all about. Sometimes as coaches we try to overthink that thing, and it’s not really that hard.”
Berry, a Cleveland, Ohio, native has also coached at Howard, North Carolina A&T, Morgan State, Kentucky State, Fort Valley State and Morris Brown.
Leone was hired away by former Southern defensive coordinator Trei Oliver, who finished 4-8 in his first season as head coach at NC-Central.
Leone coached quarterbacks for four seasons at Southern and helped the Jaguars to lead the SWAC in passing efficiency in 2018. In his first two years at Southern, he coached the school’s all-time leading passer Austin Howard, who led the conference in yards passing per game (225.0) in 2017, and threw for 2,650 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2016.
Coleman spent seven seasons at Southern, six as wide receivers coach.
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