Rance Gillespie begins his third year on Chris Hatcher’s staff, joining in January 2007. The offensive coordinator came to Georgia Southern with some impressive credentials.
During the 2008 season the offensive attack not only led the Southern Conference in passing offense, it also ranked 20th nationally. The Eagles also stood 20th nationally in scoring offense and 37th in total offense.
The running backs were one of the youngest position groups on the team, led by three freshmen. Adam Urbano led all backs scoring seven touchdowns, three coming in overtime periods and two which won the game (at Western Carolina, at The Citadel). He would go on to earn a spot on the SoCon ‘All-Freshman Team’.
Gillespie also oversees the kickoff return and returners. Last year Raja Andrews ranked 12th nationally averaging 14 yards per punt return. The punt return unit actually tied a program record with two returns for a touchdown (at Chattanooga, vs. Appalachian State).
During the staff’s first year in Statesboro the offense put up some of the best numbers in program history. The Eagles’ impressive offense, led by Jayson Foster, ranked first in rushing, eighth in total offense, eighth in scoring offense and 23rd in sacks allowed. Not only did the Eagles score nearly 37 points per game but when it came to making a play in the clutch they did just that, finishing first nationally in fourth down conversions.
Working a running backs group hit hard all season long by injuries, Gillespie saw freshman Zeke Rozier earn Southern Conference ‘Freshman of the Week’ honors in just his second collegiate game. Wide receiver-turned-running back Chris Teal earned the same honor in October.
Amid the record-setting season by Jayson Foster, Gillespie helped coach Lamar Lewis to a Second Team All-SoCon honor. If it wasn’t for an injury which required him to miss most of two games, Lewis would have surpassed 1,000 rushing yards (955 on 143 carries).
That year the running backs accounted for 15 of the team’s 50 touchdowns.
Gillespie led Peach County High School to the Class AAA state championship in 2005 and 2006, the first two state titles in school history. He posted a 65-16 record as head coach during his tenure, including an impressive 50-8 mark his last four seasons. From 1995-99 he served as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator.
During his tenure at Peach County, dating back to the 1995 season, Gillespie had every starting quarterback signed to a college scholarship. Following the ’06 state championship season 10 of his players signed a National Letter of Intent, including four that went to Vanderbilt, Troy, Maryland and UAB.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution named him ‘Coach of the Year’ in consecutive years (2005-06). He also received coaching accolades from the Macon Touchdown Club and Atlanta Touchdown Club (Class AAA). Following the first state title, Gillespie was named Region 4AAA ‘Coach of the Year’, marking the third straight year he won that award. In 2004 he was not only named Region ‘Coach of the Year’, but also ‘Athletics Director of the Year’.
Peach County’s amazing run began in 2003 when they not only won the Region title but was a state runner-up. Over those four years Gillespie would lead his team to the Region 4AAA title and playoff berth every season. The 2004 team advanced to the quarterfinals, then Peach County won consecutive state titles.
During his days as offensive coordinator, Gillespie and Peach County won three straight Region 4AAA titles and was state runner-up in 1998.
Gillespie also served as head coach at Banks County High School from 1999-2001. He served as the running backs coach at Coffee High School from 1994-95, and from 1992-94 was the wide receivers coach at Thomasville High School.
Gillespie began his collegiate playing career as a walk-on defensive back at Georgia, graduating in 1992. He was a four-year member of the program from 1987-90.
Originally from Clayton, Gillespie is married to Claudette Giles-Gillespie and they have one daughter, Kennedy.
EXPERIENCE: 3rd YEAR ON GSU STAFF
- Category: Football
- Published on Friday, 21 September 2007 00:24