MAGNOLIA, Ark. – Southern Arkansas Football first-year head coach Brad Smiley has announced the completion of his first coaching staff for the 2022 season. Smiley, who became the 21st head coach of the Mulerider Football program this past December, added four new hires and retained two current members of the staff to complete one of his top priorities since being named head coach.
Since officially joining Smiley in Magnolia in early January, the new staff was intentional on the recruiting trail as the group has nailed down six transfer signees, while scouring the region for prep talent as the Muleriders signed 20 high school stars on Wednesday, February 2, National Signing Day 2022.
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
Will Reed brings a plethora of defensive coaching experience and knowledge of the game to Magnolia as he joins Smiley as the program’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. It marks the second time in Reed’s coaching career that he will serve a Smiley-coached program as defensive coordinator after leading the Trinity Valley CC defense since 2007 with the first 11 seasons coming in Smiley’s tenure as head coach.
In his 15 years in Athens, Reed oversaw one of the perennial top defenses in the country that continually posted top five statistical finishes in total defense, rushing defense and passing defense. Reed’s defenses helped TVCC capture four Southwestern Junior College Football Conference (SWJCFC) Championships, four C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl wins, and three regional championships. He also enjoyed a two-year stint at TVCC in the late 1990s when he coached the Cardinals’ defensive line (1998) and defensive backs (1999). In that ’99 campaign, TVCC claimed the SWJCFC title and the ’99 Red River Bowl championship.
Reed tutored numerous NJCAA All-American selections, SWJCFC Defensive Players of the Year, All-SWJCFC selections during his time with the Cardinals. Additionally, over the last five seasons at TVCC, Reed, who served as the program’s transfer coordinator, was instrumental in the Cardinals’ leading the SWJCFC and ranking in the top five nationally each season in sending student-athletes to the NCAA Division I level with an average of two defensive backs signing each year.
Prior to TVCC, Reed coached at Texas College from 2004 to 2007 serving as an associate athletic director as well as the program’s defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.
Reed’s extensive collegiate coaching experience also includes a stint at this alma mater New Mexico State where he served as the program’s video coordinator from 1990 to 1996 following a playing career as a defensive back for the Aggies.
In addition to his time spent at the collegiate level, Reed has acquired substantial coaching experience at the professional level with multiple stints in the Arena Football League and National Football League. In 1996, Reed coached running backs, linebackers and defensive backs for the Texas Terror of the AFL and the next year, he directed the wide receivers and defensive backs of the AFL’s New York CityHawks. From 1998 to 2001, Reed was the assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach of the Milwaukee Mustangs of the AFL.
Following two years as the head coach of both football and track and field at Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, Reed served as an offensive and special teams intern for the Minnesota Vikings (2004-05). He also served as a linebackers and special teams intern for the St. Louis Rams (2007) and as a defensive line intern with the Dallas Cowboys (2010).
Certainly no stranger to the nuances of recruiting, Reed is highly acquainted with Central and East Texas, the Greater Houston area, Dallas Metroplex, and North Louisiana in addition to high schools and junior colleges in the state of California.
Reed earned his undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations and Advertising, from New Mexico State.
Assistant Coach – Offensive Coordinator
Matt Middleton comes to Magnolia after a highly successful stretch as a high school head coach at three different schools spanning multiple classifications in North Louisiana. Additionally, Middleton brings several successful years as an offensive coordinator at the NCAA Division I and Division II levels.
Middleton led LHSAA programs at Cedar Creek (2021), West Ouachita (2017-21), Prairie View Academy (2014-16), and Caldwell Parish (2005-06) and enjoyed successful tenures are each stop.
In his one season in Ruston, Middleton led CCHS to the D-IV Regional Playoffs as well as being named the 2-1A District Coach of the Year. That immediate success carried over from his time at West Ouachita where he directed the Chiefs to consecutive postseason appearances in 2019 and 2020 after the program transitioned to Class 5A; the largest classification in the state. In his final season, Middleton and WOHS won the 2020 Louisiana Army National Guard Soldiers Bowl.
Preceding his time in West Monroe, Middleton turned around Class 2A Prairie View in Bastrop. Prior to his arrival, PVA had won just three games in 2014. Middleton’s two seasons directing the program resulted in back-to-back 10-win campaigns to set the single season program record, consecutive district titles and the first back-to-back playoff appearances in 28 years.
Certainly no stranger to the collegiate coaching landscape, the Natural State or the Great American Conference, Middleton enjoyed successful tenures in the state of Arkansas where he served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator while leading the quarterbacks and wide receivers at Arkansas-Monticello (2007-08, 2011-14) and as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Central Arkansas (2009-10).
While in Monticello, the 2008 GSC Weevils led the league in total offense, rushing, first downs and time of possession and held top three rankings in scoring, passing, passing efficiency, and third down conversions. UAM made waves nationally that season as Middleton’s offense owned top three statistical rankings in NCAA Division II in total first downs (2nd), total offense (3rd) and time of possession (3rd), while ranking sixth in rushing, 25th in scoring and 29th in passing. Middleton tutored 2008 GSC Player of the Year and Harlon Hill Trophy Finalist Scott Buisson who was a catalyst for the unit breaking 22 of the program’s offensive records that season.
In between his two stints at UAM, Middleton directed the Central Arkansas offense where in the seasons of 2009 and 2010 the Bears ranked in the top three of numerous Southland Conference offensive categories including total offense, scoring, passing, passing efficiency, first downs, third down conversions, fourth down conversions and red zone offense.
In 2011, Middleton returned to UAM where he spent the next four seasons again leading the Weevils’ offense as an assistant head coach and offensive coordinator while also directing the Weevils’ quarterbacks. Arkansas-Monticello once again employed an explosive offense under Middleton which included multiple top five offensive statistics over the next three seasons. In 2013, UAM led the league in red zone scoring, passing efficiency and fewest fumbles lost; all of which landed in the top 20 nationally that season.
Middleton got his start in collegiate coaching at Louisiana Tech in 2001 where for two seasons he served as an assistant wide receiver coach and signal caller for a Bulldog offense that ranked in the top ten nationally in passing offense in 2001 (7th, 309.6 ypg) and 2002 (8th, 320.3 ypg). In both seasons, LT ranked in the top 30 in total offense. The Bulldogs won the Western Athletic Conference title in 2001 and earned a bowl bid to that season’s Humanitarian Bowl.
From Ruston, Middleton coached as an assistant for two seasons at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport which was followed by a one-year stint at Division II Grand Valley State where he served as the wide receivers coach in 2004.
In 1997, Middleton played as a wide receiver on a Mississippi College team that claimed the Division III American Southwest Conference championship.
Middleton holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a minor in Social Studies which he earned from Louisiana Tech in 2002.
Assistant Coach – Offensive Line / Run Game Coordinator
A native of Abilene, Texas, J Pond comes to Magnolia after serving alongside Smiley at FCS Northwestern State. While with the Demons, Pond directed an offensive line that was the backbone of multiple record-setting offenses in Natchitoches which included two dozen Northwestern State team and individual offensive records and the school’s all-time leaders in passing yards, both career and single season, in passing touchdowns, both career and single game, in receptions, and in single-season receiving yards and touchdowns.
Prior to NSU, Pond served one season as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator as well as the strength and conditioning coordinator at Texas High School in Texarkana. That one season stop in Texarkana was preceded by a lengthy and highly-successful eight-year stint, from January of 2009 to May of 2017, at Trinity Valley Community College. While at TVCC, Pond coached the offensive line, served as the run game coordinator and directed the strength and conditioning program.
During his time with the Cardinals and while working under Smiley, Pond’s offensive line, much like his time at NSU, played a key role in multiple record-breaking offenses. In his final five seasons, TVCC posted an overall record of 49-9 record, won conference titles, and spent 64 consecutive weeks ranked in the National Junior College Athletic Association Top 20 which included holding a top ten ranking for 22 straight weeks.
Pond’s trench leadership saw the Cardinal rushing attack finish in the top ten nationally four times and his unit protected for a passing offense that ranked in the top ten six times with four top five placements nationally.
In his stints at TVCC and NSU, Pond coached twenty all-conference offensive linemen and four that received All-American honors. In terms of recruiting, Pond is extremely familiar with central and west Texas as well as Houston and the surrounding areas having blanketed those parts of the state during those two previous coaching stops.
Pond received his start in collegiate coaching in the mid-2000s as he served as a graduate assistant offensive line coach at Sul Ross University for two seasons from 2007 to 2008 where he also assisted as the head strength and conditioning coach and recruiting coordinator. That two-year stop followed a spring internship in 2007 with the Texas A&M Football program which saw Pond assist offensive line coach Jim Bob Helduser and with the strength and conditioning program.
No stranger to College Station, Pond played for the Aggies for five seasons earning letters in 2005 and 2006 for a Texas A&M program that won 14 games in those two seasons, including nine in 2006. In each of his final two seasons as a student-athlete, Pond was named a Verizon Academic Scholar-Athlete.
Pond received his Bachelor of Science in Sport Management with a Business Administration minor from Texas A&M in August of 2007. In December of 2008, Pond earned a Master of Education degree from Sul Ross State.
Assistant Coach – Wide Receivers
A Louisiana native, Michael Thompson crosses state lines and into the collegiate coaching ranks after enjoying eight successful seasons as a high school football coach in the state of Louisiana. Most recently, Thompson, who played collegiately as a wide receiver at Louisiana College, served as an assistant head coach and passing game coordinator in charge of wide receivers at Edna Karr High School in New Orleans.
In his five seasons at Edna Karr, Thompson’s passing attacks helped the Cougars tally a 62-7 record overall, a 16-0 record in 4A District play and capture back-to-back-to-back LHSAA Division II State Titles from 2017 to 2019. Thompson coached for one season (2016) at Northside High School in Lafayette and for two seasons (2014-2015) at Peabody Magnet High School in Alexandria.
Thompson has mentored over a dozen wide receivers that went on to play collegiately. While at Edna Karr, five of Thompson’s wide outs went on to play Division I football.
Prior to joining the high school coaching ranks, Thompson competed for two seasons with the indoor East Texas Timber Rattlers where he recorded 56 catches for 886 yards and ten touchdowns.
Thompson received his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a Business Administration minor from Louisiana College in 2014. In March of 2019, he earned a Master of Education in Special Education from Grand Canyon University.
Assistant Coach – Defensive Line / Recruiting Coordinator / Strength & Conditioning
TJ Langley returns to the newly-constructed staff and will continue to lead the Mulerider defensive line and serve as the program’s strength and conditioning coordinator. Additionally, Langley will also serve in a new role as the program’s recruiting coordinator.
Langley navigated the Muleriders’ defensive line unit through the pandemic-canceled season of 2020, while his 2021 unit made up for lost time serving a Mulerider defense that finished second in the Great American Conference in sacks with 28 in 11 games totaling 199 yards. Langley’s front helped the SAU defense rank tied for fourth in yards allowed per rush at 4.3.
In his first year on the sideline (year two on staff), Langley tutored a pair of All-GAC honorees in David Walker and Demoni Boyd. Walker, a second-team selection, recorded 15.5 tackles for loss which included seven sacks, while Boyd, who earned honorable mention, logged 8.5 tackles for loss with 4.5 coming as sacks in addition to recording a pair of blocked kicks.
Hired in July of 2020, Langley arrived in Magnolia from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. While at NEO, Langley coached the Golden Norsemen defensive line and linebackers as part of a defensive unit that led Region XIV in pass yards allowed per game (162.9), ranked tied for second in points allowed per game (22.2) and posted the fourth-best rushing defense in the league (146.1) during the 2019 season.
Prior to his time at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Langley began his coaching career at Idabel High School (OK) where he spent four seasons as defensive coordinator under legendary head coach Dennis Parker (2x Texas High School Football Coach of the Year). With Langley at the helm of the Warriors’ defense, HIS made four-consecutive trips to the state playoffs after posting a 1-9 record the year prior to Langley’s arrival and in 2017 his defense ranked in the top 10 statewide in points allowed. Additionally, Langley served as the school’s strength and conditioning coach during his time in Idabel and in his final three years he served as the head powerlifting coach.
As a collegiate student-athlete, Langley’s football career began at Northeastern Oklahoma State in 2007 where he played tight end. He transferred to Arkansas Tech where he played both tight end and defensive end during his Wonder Boy career which culminated in him being inducted into the Arkansas Tech University T Club. As a senior, Langley recorded 23 tackles (17 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and a team-leading nine quarterback pressures in his senior season which helped him earn an invitation to the inaugural Eastham Energy All-Star Game in Tempe, Arizona.
Following his collegiate career, Langley signed as an undrafted free agent of the Buffalo Bills in 2011 before playing three seasons in the Arena Football League with the Jacksonville Sharks and Philadelphia Soul. While with the Philadelphia Soul in 2012, Langley competed in Arena Bowl XXV.
In 2016, Langley received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Recreation from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and in 2018 he received his Master of Science in Sports Administration with an emphasis on Strength and Conditioning from SOSU.
Langley and his wife, Sarah, have one son, Braylon, a strong 11-year-old #CFWarrior who is fighting and winning his daily battle with cystic fibrosis and a three-month-old daughter Lilliana Marie.
Assistant Coach – Linebackers
Greg Parker returns to the newly-constructed staff after directing the Mulerider wide receivers in 2021. Under Smiley, Parker turns to the defensive side of the football where he will lead the SAU linebackers.
Last fall, Parker’s wide outs hauled in 185 of the team’s 207 receptions for 2,416 yards and 21 touchdowns. The unit was highlighted by redshirt junior Micah Small who caught 60 passes for 1,012 yards at 91.0 yards per game with a dozen touchdowns to become just the third different receiver to eclipse 1K receiving and catch at least 12 touchdowns in a single season in program history. Small garnered All-GAC second team recognition.
Prior to coming to Magnolia, Parker coached the defensive line at Division II Black Hills State for the 2019 season and at San Jacinto College in 2018.
Parker assisted the Arkansas State defense in 2017 serving as a defensive quality control coach for a unit that ranked third in the Sun Belt Conference that season in total defense, interceptions, sacks and turnovers gained. The Red Wolves also led the league and ranked 21st nationally in third down conversion defense.
His first stop in collegiate coaching came in 2013 where he served as the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at San Jacinto College through the 2017 season. Under his direction, eight of Parker’s linebackers signed with four-year programs including two each to the FBS and FCS levels.
Parker enlisted into the United States Marine Corps on February 5, 1992 and upon his graduation he was assigned as a radio operator. During his 20-year career, Parker served as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, South Carolina and at UC Berkeley. He deployed to operation Iraqi Freedom and in Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom. He retired as a Master Sergeant. Parker’s awards include a Meritorious Service Medal, three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, an Iraqi Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and a Korean Defense Service Medal.
Parker earned a Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Global Business Management from the University of Phoenix.
Graduate Assistant Coach – Defensive Line
Anthony Fields enters into his first season for the Muleriders and in year one he will assist Coach Langley and the defensive line.
A defensive lineman by trade, Fields starred at Jacksonville (Ark.) High School before joining Smiley and Reed as a defensive tackle signee at Trinity Valley Community College where he played in 2016 and 2017. From TVCC, Fields played one season at Midwestern State of the Lone Star Conference in 2018.
Fields joins Smiley in Magnolia from Division III power Hardin-Simmons where he served as an assistant defensive line coach in 2021.