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Former Arkansas associate head coach Jeff Traylor named UTSA head football coach

Traylor, who also has coached at Texas and SMU, will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at the Alamodome.

SAN ANTONIO — Jeff Traylor, associate head coach at the University of Arkansas the last two seasons, has been named the new head football coach at UTSA.

The university confirmed Traylor's hiring in a news release Monday night.

A news conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Alamodome to formally announce Traylor's hiring as the third head coach in UTSA football history.

Fans will have a chance to talk with Traylor during a meet-and-greet session on the field after the news conference, which will be held in the southeast corner of the field level. The general public may park for free in Lot A and enter through the loading dock by using the southwest tunnel.

Traylor succeeds Frank Wilson, who was fired last week after going 19-29 in four seasons at the helm of San Antonio's fledgling FBS program. UTSA, which started playing football in 2011, finished 4-8 overall and 3-5 in Conference USA this season.

“I am so excited and grateful for this opportunity, and thank Dr. Eighmy, Dr. Campos and the rest of the UTSA community for putting their trust in me,” Traylor said, referring to UTSA president Taylor Eighmy and UTSA vice president for interscholastic athletics Lisa Campos in a UTSA news release.. 

“I can’t wait to meet our student-athletes and the rest of the Roadrunner Family, and I look forward to hitting the ground running. UTSA is a sleeping giant and I can’t wait to wake it up.

“Being a native Texan and a coach for so many years in this state, I understand how important football is to the people of Texas,” Traylor said. “I’m anxious to reconnect and continue building relationships with (the) Texas High School Coaches Association and all the great high school coaches in this state and beyond.”

Traylor’s five-year contract begins on Dec. 13 and includes $800,000 in guaranteed compensation in year one, according to the UTSA release. It also includes financial incentives for various goals including, but not limited to, regular-season game wins, achievement of a bowl game and ticket sales milestones.

Wilson was an assistant coach at LSU for six years before landing his first college head-coaching job at UTSA in January 2016. He succeeded Larry Coker, who resigned after five seasons.

A highly successful high school coach in East Texas, Traylor also has been an assistant coach at Texas (2015, 2016) and SMU (2017).

"Finding a leader who not only understands the landscape of recruiting in Texas but has demonstrated an ability to build a championship culture was key in this selection," Campos said. “Jeff is a high-energy individual who is going to engage our community, build relationships and positively impact the lives of our student-athletes, all while building a championship caliber program.”

Traylor coached the running backs the last two seasons at Arkansas under head coach Chad Morris, who was fired last week. Traylor was on Morris' staff at SMU in 2017, serving as associate head coach and running backs coach.

Before following Morris to Arkansas, Traylor served as SMU's interim head coach after Morris resigned in December 2017. He helped lead the Mustangs to their first bowl game since 2012.

Traylor's coaching career in college started with his two-year stint at Texas. In his first season in Austin, he coached tight ends and was named Scout.com’s Big 12 Recruiter of the Year. In 2016, Traylor coached tight ends and wide receivers for the Longhorns, who boasted the nation’s No. 16 ranked offense that averaged 491.3 yards per game.

"As we conducted an extensive national search, one candidate prominently rose above the others for his record of success, his commitment to preparing student-athletes for life and his deep ties to football here in the state of Texas,” Eighmy said. “Coach Traylor embodies all of these characteristics and has an outstanding reputation among his high school, college and professional peers for his ability to recruit, develop and mold champions — on the field and in life.”

Traylor became one of the best high school coaches in Texas at Gilmer, where he grew up, before going to the college ranks.

The Buckeyes went 175-26 in 15 seasons (2000-14) under Traylor, winning three state championships and finishing state runners-up twice. All three of his championship teams went undefeated.

Gilmer recorded seven 13-win seasons and won at least 10 games 11 times during Traylor's tenure.

“Jeff Traylor is a champion who has an innate ability to help student-athletes become the best leaders they can be,” said D.W. Rutledge, former executive director of the Texas High School Football Coaches Association. “He is one of our own and as someone who is extremely well connected with the Texas high school coaching community, he is an excellent choice to usher in a powerful new era for Roadrunners Football.”

A 1986 Gilmer High School graduate, Traylor earned a spot on the Stephen F. Austin football team as a walk-on and earned his degree at SFA in 1990. He was an assistant coach at Big Sandy and Jacksonville high schools before returning to Gilmer as head coach in 2000. 

At UTSA, Traylor will take over a program that has declined since Wilson led the Roadrunners to six-win seasons in his first two years. 

Wilson guided UTSA to its first bowl appearance in his first season, but was only 13-19 in C-USA during his four-year tenure at UTSA.

Wilson's first team finished 6-7 after losing to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl. The Roadrunners went 6-5 in 2017, but did not receive a bowl bid.

UTSA lost to Louisiana Tech 41-27 in its 2019 finale on Nov. 30, in Ruston, La., finishing below .500 for a second straight year. 

The Roadrunners haven't won back-to-back games since the first half of the 2018 season. UTSA won three straight to climb to 3-3 last year, but finished 3-9 after losing its last six games.

Traylor built a reputation as an outstanding recruiter during his stints at Texas, SMU and Arkansas. Baylor head coach Matt Rhule gave Traylor a ringing endorsement.

“Jeff Traylor is a dynamic, transformational leader who will usher in a bright new era for UTSA football,” Rhule said. “I have long admired Coach Traylor’s passion for young people, his knowledge of the game and his unparalleled impact in recruiting.

"He is a dynamic personality who will recruit the very best student-athletes from all across the state and high school coaches know that if they send a young man to Jeff, he will be cared for, taught and pushed to be the very best that he can be. I look forward to seeing Coach Traylor and his staff bring a championship to San Antonio.”

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