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Wimberly Named AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year
Liberty defensive coordinator Robert Wimberly was one of five collegiate coaches honored today by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), as he was named the organization's FCS Assistant Coach of the Year.
Wimberly was joined on the AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year list by Oregon running back coach Gary Campbell (FBS), Delta State assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Joel Williams (Division II), Gallaudet assistant head coach/defensive coordinator John Davis (Division III) and Graceland defensive coordinator Alan Dykens (NAIA).
Wimberly was the FCS finalist for the award along with Chuck Hepola of Nicholls State and Ricky Coon of Southeast Missouri State.
During his first three years back at Liberty, Wimberly has had 19 players receive Big South all-conference accommodations, which is more than any other defensive unit in the league during that time span.
Wimberly has instructed a top 20 ranked defense the last two years at Liberty. The Flames finished 2012 ranked No. 15 in the country in total defense (314.7 yards allowed per game) and No. 9 in 2013 (313.9). The Flames also ranked No. 5 in the country in scoring defense in 2013, as Liberty limited opposing offenses to 17.6 points per game.
Liberty has posted two shutouts in 2013 (Norfolk State and Gardner-Webb) and is coming off impressive defensive performances which have propelled Liberty into the second round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs.
Two weeks ago, Liberty secured its seventh Big South title with a 15-14 victory over No. 2/1 Coastal Carolina, who had the top ranked offense in the conference.
Last week, Liberty posted a 26-21 win over No. 15 James Madison in the Flames' first-ever NCAA FCS Playoffs game. The Dukes came into the game ranked No. 8 in the country, averaging 497.0 total offensive yards per game.
Each year, staff representatives from NCAA and NAIA football-playing schools are asked to nominate an assistant for consideration. From those nominations, a winner is selected by the AFCA Public Relations Committee.
The Assistant Coach of the Year award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.
"Once again, five outstanding assistant coaches have been selected for their dedication, not only to their teams, but to their communities," said Executive Director Grant Teaff. "Often times, the head coach receives much of the credit for his team's success, but any head coach is only as good as his assistants. Much of an assistant coach's work is done behind the scenes. It is our pleasure to bring it to the forefront."
The criteria for the award is not limited to on-field coaching ability or the success of the team and players that these assistant coaches work with. Service to the community through charitable work and other volunteer activities, participation in AFCA activities and events, participation in other professional organizations and impact on student-athletes are all taken into account in the selection process.
Winners of the Assistant Coach of the Year Award will receive a plaque to commemorate the award. They will be honored at the President's Kickoff Luncheon, Monday, January 12 at the 2015 AFCA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
From the AFCA official announcement:
Football Championship Subdivision
Robert Wimberly, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach, Liberty: Wimberly is currently in the 12th season of his coaching career, eight of which have been spent with the Liberty Flames. While at Liberty, Wimberly started and runs a youth organization called Y.P.W.I., Young People With Integrity. The program is designed to help young men and women in the community learn about the importance of developing character. Coach Wimberly has made an impact on the lives of several of his players, helping them move on after their playing careers to be coaches themselves, or to play in the NFL or serve their country. Coach Wimberly has also been active in the AFCA, participating in the FCS Assistants Forum at the annual AFCA convention. Wimberly's first stint at Liberty was as the linebacker's coach for five years before joining head coach Turner Gill's staff at Buffalo in 2009. Since returning to the Flames with Gill, Wimberly has been in charge of running the defense. Wimberly led his unit to a top 15 defense in his first season and a top 10 total defense in his second season, as well as a top defense in several other categories.