Story submitted by Brad Kirtley, APSU Sports Information Director
Photo courtesy of APSU Sports Information
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Josh Richards, who coached five seasons under Austin Peay State head coach Kirby Cannon at Missouri S&T, has been hired as the Governors wide receivers coach.
Richards replaces Paul Derrick, who recently resigned his coaching position to return to the high school level. Veteran Govs’ assistant Marcus Gildersleeve will move into Derrick’s vacated running backs coaching position with Richards assuming wide receiver coaching duties.
“We hated to lose Coach Derrick,” Cannon said. “He is an outstanding coach and young man but we have been able to replace him with someone who brings a lot to our program. Josh is a man of character, he’s a family man and he also has the gifts a coach needs.
“He communicates well with the players, he cares about the players. He will do an outstanding job as our wide receivers coach and I am certain he will have a great deal of input into our offensive system at some point.”
Richards comes to APSU after spending the last three seasons coaching high school in Missouri. Previous to that he worked with the Missouri S&T offense. A notable mid-Missouri prep head coach, he arrived in Rolla in 2005 as a part-time assistant before moving into a full-time role the following season. He became the program’s offensive coordinator in 2007.
“He was teaching at St. James (High School) and came over and earned his spurs,” Cannon said. “He did a great job with our running backs—the year he took over our running backs, we did not have a fumble.
“That is a perfect example of him being a sound football coach, a good teacher of fundamentals. I was very impressed.”
After offensive coordinator Marc Kolb left the program after the 2006 season, Richards approached Cannon about assuming the role.
“I knew Josh had a very good offensive mind from his head-coaching days,” Cannon said. “I felt very comfortable that he was the right guy to become our next offensive coordinator. He may have been a little short of full-time college coaching experience, but I felt very good about him at that time and made him the offensive coordinator.
“We were very good on offense when he took over and in a lot of ways we became better. We became more balanced with our running game—we were not a throw-only team. He did an outstanding job of preparing our offense each week and was a very good game-day coach”
In 2008, Richards led the S&T offense to record-setting marks. The Miners set school records for points scored (408) and offensive yards (4,945) while eclipsing the 50-point mark on three occasions. In 2007. S&T had its highest single-game point total (68) in in 85 seasons and also scored 60 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1914.
Missouri S&T led the Great Lakes Football Conference in total offense that season and ranked 12th nationally in Division II with its average of 449.5 yards per game. The Miners’ 37.1 points-per-game scoring average ranked 13th.
The Miners averaged 30.4 points and 376.6 yards per game during the 2007 campaign and eclipsed the 40-point mark in three of the final four games that season. Missouri S&T, which had been the NCAA Division II passing champion in 2006, showed more balance as the running game accounted for 138.4 yards per game.
“Josh’s strength is his attention to detail,” Cannon said. “”He believes there is a right way to do things—he is a fundamental and technique coach—and holds his players to that standard. He demands they do it right every time. The combination of being able to communicate, teach and demand is what makes him a good coach.”
Richards, who played his high school football at Rolla High School, joined the Miner coaching staff in 2005 after a four-year stint as the head coach at John F. Hodge High School in St. James, Mo. In his last two seasons at the high school level, his teams averaged more than 330 yards and more than 30 points per game.
Prior to taking the head coaching position in St. James, Richards spent two years as the head coach of the freshman team at Rolla High School and one year as the head coach of the junior high team at Waynesville High School.
Richards is a graduate of Central Methodist University, where he was the captain of the Eagles’ 1997 team and a three-year letterman in the program. He was the Eagles’ starting quarterback for two seasons.
Richards now will have just a few weeks to learn APSU’s system before greeting his receivers, August 4, when the team reports.
“We are beginning that process today of teaching him our offensive system,” Cannon said. “Getting to know the players will then be the next step. I think Coach Gildersleeve is excited about him joining our staff because he knows the passing numbers we were able to put up (at S&T) with Josh as coordinator.”