POPLARVILLE – Pearl River Community College has announced that David Saunders will be promoted as the school’s new head football coach.
Saunders, 57, was approved as the Wildcats’ 16th football coach by the PRCC Board of Trustees on Wednesday.
“This is a phenomenal opportunity for me to part of the vision of this institution,” said Saunders. “There are exciting things going on in all areas of the campus here, and to be asked to lead the football program and share in that vision is something that excites me.”
Saunders was an assistant coach for the Wildcats this past season, directing the team’s secondary and special teams. He replaces William Jones, who resigned after three seasons as head coach, posting an 11-16 record.
“In the search for a new head football coach, it was the ultimate goal of the selection committee to identify a person who could not only lead our student athletes on the football field, but, more importantly, show great passion for their success in the classroom and in life,” said PRCC president William Lewis.
“We were looking for a person who truly cared about the lives of young people, and who possessed a commitment to the moral, physical and spiritual development of their athletes. We believe we found that in Coach David Saunders.”
A native of Douglasville, Ga., Saunders was a walk-on lineman at Auburn in the late 1970s under Doug Barfield. He earned a BS in education from Auburn in 1982.
He began his coaching career in 1982 as a teacher and coach at Andalusia (Ala.) High School, then moved to the college ranks in 1984 at Jacksonville State, where he coached wide receivers and defensive backs, and was also recruiting coordinator.
After five seasons at Jacksonville State, he spent three seasons at Georgia Southern as defensive line coach, then two seasons at Nicholls State, where he was defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.
Saunders spent one year at Baylor, then two seasons at Arkansas State, followed by a year at Tennessee before going to Ole Miss in 1998 for the first of three stints with the Rebels.
He spent four seasons in Oxford as assistant to the athletic director for recruiting and coordinator of high school and community college relations, then was hired as head coach at Millsaps, coaching the Majors for three seasons, compiling a 7-21 record from 2003-05.
Following his tenure at Millsaps, Saunders returned to Ole Miss in 2006 as linebackers coach. He later served the Rebels as administrative operations coordinator before going to Louisiana-Lafayette in 2011, where he coached cornerbacks for four seasons.
“Coach Saunders has a wealth of football coaching knowledge and experience,” said PRCC athletic director Jason Francis.
“Through the course of this football season, Coach Saunders has demonstrated a sincere love for his players and is largely invested and interested in their well-being. His focus has been seeing them succeed on and off the field. He has been a pleasure to work with and has been embraced by countless departments on our campus.”
Saunders takes over a Wildcat program that has not made the MACJC playoffs since 2008. PRCC was 2-7 this past season.
The first order of business for Saunders will be to assemble a staff, and he took a step in that direction by retaining Derrick LeBlanc as defensive coordinator, pending approval by the PRCC Board of Trustees at its January meeting. Saunders said he hopes to complete his staff over the next few weeks.
“I am excited that Coach LeBlanc has agreed to stay on as defensive coordinator,” Saunders said. “I told him that he doesn’t need me; I need him.”
PRCC FOOTBALL COACHES
Goat Hale 1924, 1926, 1933-38
Dick Baxter 1939-42, 1944
L.W. Johnson 1945
James Wade 1946-47
T.D. “Dobie” Holden 1948-66
John Russell 1967-73
Harvey Seligman 1974
J.C. Arban 1975-84
Mike Nelson 1985-90
Willie Coats 1991-94
Keith Daniels 1995-2000
Scott Maxfield 2001
Tucker Peavey 2002-a
Tim Hatten 2002-12
William Jones 2013-15
David Saunders 2016-
a – did not coach a game for Wildcats