Former Coach: Army hires ex-Cajuns strength coach, combat vet Whitt
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Feb. 22, 2019
A high-profile former UL strength and conditioning coach has a new job — and it’s quite a fit.
Rusty Whitt — who was with the Ragin’ Cajuns for six seasons from 2010 through 2015, and most recently was at Texas Tech — has been hired as an assistant strength and conditioning coach by Army’s football program.
He joins the staff of newly promoted strength coach Conor Hughes.
Whitt is a United States Army veteran who served from August 2003 through January 2009.
A Senior Special Forces Communication Sergeant in the 10th Special Forces Group, he was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom V and VI.
Then-UL strength and conditioning coach Rusty Whitt speaks in 2015 about the amenities and equipment in the new Ragin' Cajuns weight room. Whitt now works at Army. (Photo11: Advertiser file photo)
Whitt is the recipient of a combat infantry badge, two Iraqi campaign medals and an Army commendation medal with valor.
During his service years, the Green Beret developed and initiated a comprehensive pre-deployment conditioning program for his Special Forces Team prior to and during OIF V and VI.
Whitt oversaw the Cajuns’ strength program when they won four straight New Orleans Bowls and went 9-4 on the field under then-head coach Mark Hudspeth for four straight seasons from 2011-14.
Known for his military-style training techniques, he was the subject of national attention for head-butting a Cajuns player while getting pumped up for UL’s 2011 New Orleans Bowl-win over San Diego State, then remaining on the sideline with blood visibly dripping down from his head to his face.
Last year, while working as head strength and conditioning coach at Texas Tech, Whitt again attracted national attention for tackling a fan who had run onto the field during a game against Oklahoma.
Whitt, a Texas native, played football at Abilene Christian.
He previously was the head strength and conditioning coach at Sam Houston State and, after completing his military service, he also was an assistant strength coach at Rice.
Last December, FootballScoop.com reported Whitt would be joining Hudspeth — who was fired by UL after the 2017 season — at NCAA FCS-member Austin Peay.
Hudspeth was hired as head coach by the Governors last December, after spending one season as tight ends coach and associate head coach at Mississippi State.
Whitt ended up at Army instead.
But several of Hudspeth’s former UL staffers now work for him at Austin Peay:
Another former Cajuns assistant coach, meanwhile, was hired earlier this month as director of recruiting at SEC-member Auburn.
Levorn Harbin spent three seasons under Hudspeth at UL, working as defensive line coach from 2015-16 and defensive tackles coach in 2017. The former Tuskegee University defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator previously was a defensive line analyst at Auburn from 2013-14.
Elsewhere, Georgia of the SEC has hired former UL starting center Eddie Gordon as an offensive line graduate assistant coach.
Gordon played for the Cajuns from 2014-16, then became a graduate assistant. He spent last season at UL as an assistant strength and conditioning coach and player development director.
On Thursday, CBSSports reported that UL has hired former Alabama and NFL linebacker Nico Johnson as a defensive quality control coach. Johnson played in 18 games for the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Giants from 2013-15.
UL has not yet announced or confirmed the hiring of Johnson and other new additions to its coaching/support staff.