By: Chase Volpi, Bulldog Blitz
Samford’s Defense underwent quite the makeover since the end of last season. They ended up hiring a whole new coaching staff, except for one, and were very active in the transfer portal. Samford pulled in over 10 new transfers to freshen up the roster. At the end of last season, Samford lost several key players on defense and the coaching staff wanted to fill those holes with experienced players.
The mastermind behind Samford’s defensive strategy is Chris Boone, who is no stranger to Samford. Back in 2014 he was the defensive line coach as well as the special team’s coordinator for the bulldogs.
Boone started his college career playing at Jones County Junior College, where he was a two-year starter and was voted team captain in 1991 and 1992. He then transferred to Southern Mississippi where he graduated as a student-athlete in 1997.
Boone’s Coaching career
He started his coaching career right after college and bounced around for a couple of years between smaller Division 1 schools and high schools. Boone got his first coordinating job at Eastern Central Community College, where he was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He was there from 2004 to 2005.
Boone then took an opportunity in 2006 to be the assistant head coach, defensive coordinator, and secondary coach at Tennessee-Martin. While he was there, he helped the Skyhawks post their best five-season record in school history (32-25). Two of his defenses (2010, 2006) ranked in the top 12 nationally in total defense. The 2006 UTM team won the OVC, and finished 9-3, and was ranked 13th nationally.
Boone left Tennessee-Martin to coach at Jacksonville state where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. During his time at Jacksonville State Boone’s defense led the Ohio Valley Conference with 17 interceptions in league games, led the OVC in rush defense (144.9 ypg), third down conversion percentage (67 %), and scoring defense (24.8 ppg). In 2011 JSU won the OVC, going 7-4 overall and 6-2 in the league.
Boone then made a quick pit stop at Northwestern State, where he served as an assistant coach, defensive coordinator, and secondary coach in 2013. His defense finished second in the conference and lead the Demons to their first six-win season in five years.
Boone then joined the Bulldogs for the first time in 2014 as defensive line and special teams coach. When he was here, Samford’s defense was ranked second in the conference and 15th in the nation in total defense, as well as being ranked 16th in the nation for scoring defense.
From Samford, he took a job at Murry State, where he was the assistant head coach, defensive coordinator, and secondary coach. In 2016 his defense led the Ohio Valley Conference in turnovers and was ranked 25th nationally in both red zone defense and turnovers forced.
He then took a job at Southern Mississippi where he coached the defensive line and safeties. His 2018 defense finished third in the nation in total defense, first-down defense, sixth in rushing defense, ninth in team pass efficiency defense, and 10th in red zone defense.
After Southern Mississippi, he took the defensive coordinator and safeties job at East Mississippi Community College. His 2021 defense led the nation in scoring defense, just giving up 12.8 points per game, and the defensive unit placed fourth nationally in total defense.
Boone comes back to Samford
Boone rejoins the Bulldogs as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach. We are two games deep into the season and Boone looking right at home at Samford.
In week one, Samford played Kennesaw State, who was ranked 6th at the time and the defensive unit held them to a measly 17 points.
In his second game, the Bulldogs played the number two ranked, defending national champions, Georgia Bulldogs. Samford was outmatched in every way but still managed to hold the reigning champions to just 33 points.
Tay Berry, starting defensive lineman, says Coach Boone holds his players to high standards. “His expectations are very high, and they have been high since he got here,” Berry said. “His overall goal is to be the number one defense in the SOCON as well as SOCON champions.”
Thomas Neville, starting linebacker said, “His expectations for us are to be the most physical team on the field.”
Boone’s coaching style
Coach Boone’s coaching style can be described as very passionate and energetic. He brings energy to the field every day and expects the same from the players. Neville said, “His coaching style is very passionate and energetic. He preaches physicality.” Neville said,” The energy he brings is very contagious, every day he is always hyped up and wants the best out of every single player each day.”
Boone also brings the hard-nosed energy needed to preach physicality. Berry said,” He brings the hard nose, very physical energy to the defense. He will always push you to be the most physical player you can be.”
Samford’s defense is in good hands this season with coach Boone at the helm. It will be interesting to see how much more Boone brings to the table. As the famous quote says “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships.”