LAFAYETTE, La. – Louisiana football head coach Billy Napier has announced that former Southeastern Louisiana head coach Ron Roberts has joined the program as the new Defensive Coordinator.
During his time at the helm of the Southeastern Louisiana football program, Roberts led the Lions to two conference championships with a 42-29 overall record and a 35-14 Southland Conference mark.
Roberts was named the Southland Conference, AFCA Region 5 and Louisiana Coach of the Year in 2013 after claiming his first championship at Southeastern La. He was also named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the top coach in the FCS, that season.
Last season Southeastern Louisiana ranked fourth in the Southland Conference in scoring and total defense as the squad finished the year with a 6-5 record.
In 2016, the Lions won six of their last seven games to finish 7-4 overall and 7-2 in league play. Southeastern placed 14 student-athletes on the All-Southland Conference teams, including a pair of first team selections in offensive tackle Taylor Gadbois and fullback Juwaan Rogers. Gadbois also earned third team Associated Press All-America accolades, as he, Rogers and defensive back Javon Tillman were named to the All-Louisiana team. Senior linebacker Tre’ Bennett also represented the Lions on the Southland All-Academic squad.
The Lions were led by senior defensive back Harlan Miller in 2015, who was a finalist for the FCS Defensive Player of the Year and a Senior Bowl participant, and named All-America by STATS and the Associated Press. Miller was one of nine of Roberts’ players to earn All-Southland Conference honors. Senior offensive lineman Joe Graves was named an FCS Academic All-Star and he was joined by senior defensive back Denzel Thompson on the Southland All-Academic team.
The Lions repeated as Southland Conference champions in 2014, sharing the regular season title with Sam Houston State, who defeated SLU in the first round of the playoffs.
Southeastern Louisiana placed 16 players on the 2014 All-Southland Conference teams, led by Offensive Player of the Year Bryan Bennett. Bennett was joined on the first team by Corbett, Miller, senior offensive lineman Jonathan Braddock and senior kicker Ryan Adams.
Under Roberts, the 2013 Lions won their first-ever Southland Conference championship and their first league title of any kind since 1961. Southeastern finished with an 11-3 overall record and 7-0 mark in league play, earning its first-ever FCS playoff berth and the No. 4 national seed. The single-season school record victory total propelled the Lions to a No. 6 ranking in the final FCS Coaches and Sports Network polls.
The 2013 squad had a school record 24 All-Southland Conference players, including Player of the Year Bryan Bennett and Defensive Player of the Year Cqulin Hubert. Bennett, Hubert, kick returner Xavier Roberson and place kicker Seth Sebastian all earned All-America honors, while Roberson and Sebastian earned national awards at their positions from College Football Performance Awards.
In his inaugural season in Hammond, Roberts guided Southeastern to a 5-6 record, which equaled the combined wins by the Lions in 2010-11. Southeastern’s 5-2 record in Southland Conference action in 2012 marked the most wins in conference play since 1978 when former coach Billy Brewer guided the Lions to a 5-1-1 mark in the Division II Gulf South Conference.
Prior to Southeastern Louisiana, Roberts spent five season at the helm of Division II Delta State University.
At DSU, Roberts led the Statesmen to a 47-16 record, four 10-win seasons and two NCAA Super Region II titles that included an appearance in the 2010 NCAA Division II national championship game and the 2011 semifinals.
A native of Visalia, Calif., Roberts led DSU to an 11-3 record in 2011 and was named the AFCA Division II Region Coach of the Year. The Statesmen led the GSC and finished 12th nationally with 463.7 yards per game while ranking 21st nationally in passing offense (282.7). DSU, which was ranked No. 1 nationally in the Division II polls for much of the season, paced the GSC in seven categories including total offense, scoring offense (33.4), total defense (336.6) and rushing defense (134.1).
In 2010, the Statesmen averaged 31.9 points and 452.9 yards of total offense per game. That combination propelled the Statesmen to an 11-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in GSC play; giving the Statesmen a share of the GSC title for the third time in four years.
During Roberts’ tenure at DSU, 23 players were named to All-America teams and two players – Michael Eubanks in 2007 and Micah Davis in 2011 – were finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division II equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. During Roberts’ stint with the Statesmen, 64 players, including 19 in 2011, were named to the All-GSC squad.
Roberts spent two seasons as defensive coordinator at DSU under former coach Rick Rhoades before becoming the school’s 17th head coach in 2007. The Statesmen posted identical 10-2 records and claimed Gulf South Conference titles with a combined 16-0 mark in Roberts’ first two seasons as head coach.
The Statesmen concluded 2007 ranked second in the NCAA in total defense, third in rush defense, second in scoring defense and first in defensive pass efficiency.
The successes of 2007 continued into 2008, where the Statesmen finished the season ranked second in the GSC (471.9 ypg) and sixth nationally. Led by All-GSC candidate Garrett DeWitt, the Statesmen passing attacked ranked fourth nationally with 328.3 yards passing per game. The Statesmen also rolled up 1,713 rushing yards and ranked second in the GSC and 16th nationally with 36.2 points per game.
Prior to joining the DSU staff, Roberts served one season as head coach at Mount Whitney (Calif.) HS, and the 2003 season as defensive coordinator at Texas State.
While at Texas State, Roberts took over a defense ranked near the bottom in the Southland Conference. Within a year the seasoned coordinator improved the Bobcats’ defense in virtually every statistical category and Texas State placed two defenders on the All-Southland Conference Team.
Before his appointment at Texas State, Roberts spent five seasons as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Tusculum College. During his tenure at the Greeneville, Tenn., school, the Pioneers posted one of the most memorable runs in school history.
In 2002, Roberts guided a defense that led the South Atlantic Conference in yards allowed per game and in points per game. In 2002, the Pioneer defense posted a school-record with 31 turnovers. Roberts coached 11 All-South Atlantic Conference defensive selections and Ricardo Colclough, a second-round National Football League draft pick in 2004.
Prior to joining the Tusculum staff, Roberts served as an assistant coach at Greensboro College in 1998 and was head coach at Burroughs High School (1994-96) in California. While at Burroughs, Roberts guided BHS to its first playoff appearance in 15 years and followed that up with another post-season trip the following year. He began his coaching career at Houston High School in Germantown, Tenn., as a defensive coordinator.
Roberts was a two-time All-Conference selection at linebacker at the College of Sequoias in his native Visalia, Calif. He transferred to the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he helped guide them to the 1988 Gulf South Conference Championship. He graduated in 1990 from UTM with a degree in Sociology and later earned his master’s degree in Education from the University of Memphis in 1992.
Roberts is married to the former Didi Walker of Germantown, Tenn. The couple are the parents of three children; Reed, Reilly, and Ryan.
Roberts’ hiring is pending approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.
ROBERTS AT A GLANCE
Alma Mater: UT Martin, 1990
Hometown: Visalia, Calif.
Children: Reed, Reilly and Ryan
2012-17, Southeastern Louisiana Head Coach
2007-2011, Delta State Head Coach
2005-2006, Delta State Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
2004, Mount Whitney HS Head Coach
2003, Texas State Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
1998-2002, Tusculum College Defensive Coordinator/Asst. HC
1997, Greensboro College Defensive Coordinator
1994-96, Burroughs HS Head Coach
1992-93, Houston HS Defensive Coordinator