RUSHING FORWARD

Running backs coach De’Rail Sims joins Speir’s staff

By DANIEL HOOKER ’01

Western Carolina football has a new face on the offensive side of the line this spring as former Carson-Newman College running backs coach De’Rail Sims joins the program.

De'Rail Sims

Head coach Mark Speir MAED ’95 announced the hiring of Sims and new defensive coordinator Shawn Quinn (see related story) earlier this year. “We are excited about the addition of both Shawn Quinn and De’Rail Sims to our football staff here at Western Carolina University,” said Speir. “Both of these men bring a tremendous amount of energy, passion and knowledge of the game to our program.’”

Sims makes the move to WCU from perennial Division-II football power Carson-Newman College after spending a season coaching the Eagles’ running backs while also serving as the program’s video coordinator. Last year, Carson-Newman’s running attack led Division II football by averaging nearly 380 rushing yards per game and 52 touchdowns on the ground. The 52 rushing scores were the most among all schools in all NCAA divisions – and only Georgia Southern University of the Southern Conference averaged more yards per rush than did Carson-Newman.

Under Sims’ tutelage, Carson-Newman junior running back Brandon Baker rushed for 1,468 yards – the third-best in Eagles history – and 13 touchdowns. Baker’s 8.25 yards per carry were the best in the nation for anyone with more than 100 carries in 2012.

A native of Union, S.C., where he won a South Carolina State Championship in 2002, Sims was a two-year starter for the University of Pikeville in Kentucky, playing from 2006-08. He got his start in collegiate coaching in 2009 at Pikeville as a student assistant coaching the outside linebackers. Following his graduation with a degree in history and political science, Sims spent the 2010 season coaching tight ends and coordinating the video aspects for the Millersville University football program before returning to his alma mater as the running backs coach and director of football operations in 2011. He additionally served as the head coach for Pikeville’s junior varsity squad.

Speir and the coaching staff opened spring drills in Cullowhee in March.