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Turner GillHead Football Coach
College: North Texas ('90)
Start Date: 12/14/2011
During his first two years at Liberty, head football coach Turner Gill has continued Liberty's championship tradition, guiding the Flames to back-to-back shared conference titles to give the Flames football program six Big South titles in the last seven seasons.
In his last eight seasons as head coach at three different programs, Gill has led his teams to a first-place conference standing at year's end four times (2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013).
Gill was hired as the program's eighth head coach on Dec. 14, 2011, and the former Nebraska standout quarterback and head coach at Buffalo and Kansas has won these titles despite facing two of the more daunting schedules in Liberty's program history.
Each season, the Flames have opened the year against a top-notched FBS opponent, pushing the pair of foes for 60 minutes on the gridiron. In Gill's Liberty head coaching debut, Wake Forest needed a late third quarter touchdown and another score early in the fourth to post a 20-17 come-from-behind victory in Winston-Salem, N.C.
In 2013, Kent State was able to break a 10-10 tie with less than five minutes on the fourth-quarter game clock to escape with a seven-point victory in Kent, Ohio.
The Flames have also squared off against seven nationally ranked FCS programs in Gill's two seasons at Liberty, posting wins over No. 6 Stony Brook and No. 16 Charleston Southern.
Gill brought his first home schedule to a close in 2012 with a 28-14 win over Stony Brook on Nov. 10, 2012, marking the first time the Flames have defeated a top 10 ranked opponent in program history.
The Flames capped off their second season under Gill with a resounding 56-14 win over Charleston Southern, marking the second-highest ranked team Liberty has beaten on the road in program history.
The win over the Bucs to close out the 2013 season and Gill's second Big South title gave Liberty back-to-back seasons with wins over Top 25 programs for the just the third time in the 41-year history of the football program.
Gill has helped develop some of the most gifted players in the Big South Conference his two seasons at Liberty with 29 players earning Big South all-conference honors and 16 selected to the VaSID all-state squads.
Liberty's 29 all-conference selections during the last two seasons are the most of any school in the Big South Conference.
Spotlighting Gill's development during his first season at Liberty was quarterback Josh Woodrum. Gill, with his vast personal knowledge as a highly decorated college quarterback himself, was able to help mold and shape Woodrum's abilities under center.
Woodrum was named the top rookie player in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2012 (both FCS and FBS players) and finished No. 13 in the final voting for the Jerry Rice Award (given annually to the top freshman FCS player in the country).
Woodrum set a freshman program record in 2012 with 1,963 total offensive yards and ranked second in program history with 1,966 passing yards. In 2013, Woodrum continued to shine, as his 2,591 passing yards ranks as the second-highest passing total by a sophomore quarterback in program history.
Gill has proven he has a keen eye for young talented players, helping them develop during their college years and preparing them to play at the professional level.
Walt Aikens became the seventh player in Liberty's program history to be selected in the NFL Draft when the Miami Dolphins took the former standout cornerback in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft (No. 125 overall pick).
Additionally, four other Flames received NFL training camp workout invitations shortly after the 2014 NFL Draft: Francis Bah (DL) – Chicago Bears; Kevin Fogg (CB) – Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins; Cory Freeman (DL) – Cleveland Browns; Aldreakis Allen (RB) – Indianapolis Colts.
Gill also played an instrumental role in the recruitment of one of the more talked about players in the 2014 NFL Draft. Khalil Mack, who was taken by the Oakland Raiders in the first round with the No. 4 overall pick, signed at Buffalo when Gill was head coach.
Under Gill, Liberty's offensive and defensive units have flourished. Liberty set a program record in 2013 with 36 rushing touchdowns and the Flames ranked No. 16 in the country in scoring offense (37.3 points per game).
Liberty has ranked among the national leaders in total defense the past two seasons, as the Flames ranked No. 15 in 2012 (314.73 yards allowed per game) and No. 9 in 2013 (313.90).
Liberty also ranked No. 5 in the country in 2013 in scoring defense, holding opponents to 17.6 points per game, while ranking No. 3 in turnover margin (1.3).
Gill came to Liberty after serving two years as head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks. During his time in Lawrence, Kan., Gill coached 10 players who earned All-Big 12 honors, including 2011 All-Big 12 second-team all-conference offensive lineman Jeremiah Hatch and nine players who garnered All-Big 12 honorable-mention accolades.
Gill's two-year coaching stint at Kansas was spotlighted by a victory over No. 15 Georgia Tech, 28-25, his first Jayhawks win in 2010, and a 52-45 victory over Colorado, where he rallied Kansas for a fourth-quarter comeback after being down 45-17.
Gill received his first head coaching position in 2006, when he took over a struggling Buffalo Bulls program. After posting a 2-10 record during his inaugural season, Gill guided the Bulls to a 5-7 record in 2007, the program's best mark in more than a decade, when they had finished 8-3 in 1996 while competing at the FCS level.
Gill was honored for his turnaround efforts in 2007 when he was named Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year, following the Bulls' 5-3 record in conference play. Buffalo finished the season 4-2 in the MAC East Division, earning the Bulls a share of the conference regular-season title in just his second season at the helm of the program.
Gill continued the upward trend in 2008, leading Buffalo to an 8-6 overall record and the MAC championship following a 42-24 victory over Ball State in the conference title game. Ball State entered the contest with a perfect 12-0 record and was ranked No. 12 in the country.
The victory earned the Bulls the program's first-ever postseason bowl game appearance, where Buffalo lost to Connecticut in the International Bowl.
The 2008 season saw Gill earn MAC Coach of the Year honors by The Sporting News and he was a finalist for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year award. With Gill at the helm of the Bulls' high-powered offense, Buffalo set a program record by scoring 424 points in 2008, which ranked No. 34 nationally in scoring offense.
Gill's longest coaching tenure has been at his alma mater, where he served as an assistant coach from 1992 to 2004. He served as the Cornhuskers' quarterbacks coach from 1992 to 2003 and wide receivers coach during his final year with the program.
During his decade-plus coaching stint in Lincoln, Neb., Gill was part of a coaching staff that guided Nebraska to 13-straight bowl appearances and three national championships (1994, 1995 and 1997).
Gill instructed two All-America quarterbacks at Nebraska in Tommy Frazier (1995) and Eric Crouch (2001). Crouch became the third player in the storied history of the Cornhusker program to win the Heisman Trophy, also doing so in 2001.
Gill was honored himself in 2002 when he was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach.
Prior to his full-time coaching days at Nebraska, Gill also served as a graduate assistant at North Texas (1989), Nebraska (1990) and Southern Methodist (1991). Gill also served one year as the Green Bay Packers' Director of Player Development in 2005, before leaving the professional ranks to return to the collegiate level to take over the Buffalo program in 2006.
During his playing career at Nebraska (1980-83), Gill guided the Cornhuskers to a 28-2 record and an unblemished 20-0 record in conference play. He led Nebraska to three-straight Orange Bowl appearances, spotlighted by a win over LSU on Jan. 1, 1983.
Gill was a three-time Big Eight all-conference selection, earned second-team All-America honors and was a Heisman Trophy award finalist, where he finished fourth in the voting in 1983.
Gill was honored as the quarterback selection to the Big Eight Conference All-Decade Team (1980-89) and has been inducted' into both the Nebraska Football and Orange Bowl Halls of Fame.
Gill was a gifted athlete who also played collegiate baseball for one season at Nebraska and earned All-Big Eight honors at shortstop. Out of high school, Gill was a second round draft pick in the 1980 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox as a shortstop.
Following his collegiate career, Gill played two seasons in the Canadian Football League with Montreal (1984-85) and three years as a baseball player in the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers minor league systems (1986-88).
Gill is an active member of the collegiate football community at the national level and was named to the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees in January 2014.
Gill completed his bachelor's degree in behavior analysis at North Texas in 1990. The Fort Worth, Texas, native and his wife, Gayle, have two daughters – Jordan and Margaux.
Gill at a Glance
Year at Liberty: Third
2012-13 (2 years) – Liberty (Head Coach)
2010-11 (2 years) – Kansas (Head Coach)
2006-09 (4 years) – Buffalo (Head Coach)
2005 (1 year) – Green Bay Packers (Director of Player Development/Off. Asst.)
1992-04 (13 years) – Nebraska (Asst. HC, QB, WR)
1991 (1 years) – SMU (WR)
1990 (1 year) – Nebraska (GA)
1989 (1 year) – North Texas (GA)
Education: B.A., Behavior Analysis (North Texas, '90)
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Children: Jordan and Margaux
Career Playing History Experiences
1980-83 Nebraska (QB)
1984-85 Montreal (CFL) (QB)
1986-88 Minor League Baseball (With Detroit and Cleveland)
Three-Time All-Big Eight honoree (1981, 1982, 1983)
Nebraska Co-Captain (1983)
Novak Trophy Winner (1983)
Heisman Trophy finalist (1983)
Nebraska Football Hall of Fame inductee (1989)
Orange Bowl Hall of Fame inductee (2006)