Keith Hatcher joined his cousin Chris’ football coaching staff at Georgia Southern in January 2007, serving as the secondary coach, recruiting coordinator and director of football operations. He came to the Eagle Football program after two coaching stints at Valdosta State.
In 2008, his defensive backs unit underwent a near-complete makeover from the beginning of the season as All-American Chris Covington moved to linebacker and true-freshmen emerged into the starting lineup. By the end of the season, the secondary was starting two true-freshmen and a sophomore (playing four underclassmen on a regular basis).
Two of the Eagles earned a spot on the Southern Conference All-Freshmen team: Derek Heyden and K.R. Snipes. In fact, it was the true-freshman Snipes that came up with the game-clinching interception late in the Furman game to secure the 17-10 win over the 14th-ranked Paladins and record the programs’ 25th winning season. The secondary accounted for all but one of the team’s interceptions and broke up 29 more passes.
Hatcher also oversees the punt return team. 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).
Hatcher had to make unprecedented adjustments in the secondary throughout the 2007 season as half of the opening day 2-deep were out over the final month of the season. Two former offensive players started at the end of the year and two more saw significant playing time. Covington would not only earn All-Southern Conference honors but Honorable Mention All-America accolades as well.
The secondary accounted for 10 interceptions and the squad recorded 56 pass break-ups.
Hatcher worked with the secondary and served as the director of football operations and summer camps during his final two years at Valdosta State. In 2006 the Blazers defense allowed just 15.7 points per game, 25th best in Division II. Valdosta ranked 35th nationally in total defense (allowing 270 yards per game) while totaling 24 takeaways in 10 games. That year’s defense recorded 69 tackles for a loss, 22 sacks, 13 interceptions and 38 pass break-ups. Also during the 2006 campaign, VSU ranked second in the Gulf South Conference in pass defense.
The 2006 season was Hatcher’s first in charge of the punt rush. His special team squad blocked seven punts and returned three for a touchdown. The Blazers led the league in blocks and punt return yardage.
During his tenure Hatcher coached All-America free safety and All-GSC punt returner Sherard Reynolds.
Prior to his latest time at Valdosta, Hatcher spent two years on the coaching staff at Alabama-Birmingham. He worked with the UAB Blazers in 2004 and spring 2005 under former defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt, who is currently the defensive coordinator at Iowa State.
In 2003 he originally joined the Valdosta State staff as a graduate assistant coach. During his three years at VSU, Hatcher helped the Blazers to a 27-7 record and two runner-up finishes in the Gulf South Conference.
Hatcher spent three years following graduation in private business as an investment advisor specialist but then decided to follow in the family’s footsteps of coaching.
A 2000 graduate of Mars Hill, he was a two-sport athlete lettering four years in baseball and two in football for the Lions. Not only was Hatcher a standout athlete, he earned academic accolades as well. Hatcher was a four-time Academic All-Conference pick in baseball and twice earned the same honor in football. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Sports Management from Mars Hill College.
Hatcher - who like Chris was a standout athlete at Mount de Sales Academy in Macon earning all-state honors in football, basketball and baseball – is married to his wife Ashley. They are the parents of a son, Ace.
EXPERIENCE: 3rd YEAR ON GSU STAFF
- Category: Football
- Published on Friday, 21 September 2007 00:18