ELON, N.C. – Elon University head football coach Tony Trisciani announced Saturday, Jan. 5, the addition of three assistant coaches to his staff. They include defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Billy Crocker, cornerbacks coach Chris Bland ’08 and offensive line coach Andy Marino.
The trio of coaches join four assistants continuing their tenures with the program in Drew Folmar, Clay Browning, Jerrick Hall and Dillon Lucas. Nick DiMarco, Elon’s Director of Strength & Conditioning, will also continue with the Phoenix football program while Dan Baranik has been tabbed the team’s director of football operations.
Billy Crocker – Defensive Coordinator
Crocker joins Trisciani’s staff as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach after his latest stop as defensive coordinator at UConn for coach Randy Edsall. Before his two-year stint with the Huskies, Crocker spent 12 seasons at Villanova, including five as the defensive coordinator with Trisciani serving as a defensive coach under his leadership.
At Villanova, Crocker guided one of the nation’s top defensive units year in and year out. In all, four of his five groups from 2012-16 ranked as one of the top two statistically in the CAA.
In his final season with the Wildcats in 2016, Villanova ranked No. 1 in the country in giving up just 15 points per game while also leading the FCS in total defense with 259.9 yards per game allowed. His unit also ranked third in red zone defense and fourth in rushing defense.
The previous season in 2015, Crocker’s defense gave up 18.4 points per game to finish second in CAA Football and 11th nationally. The Wildcats also ranked second in the league in total defense with just 309.1 yards per game and finished fourth nationally in red zone defense, allowing just 18 scores in 31 attempts.
The 2014 campaign saw the Wildcats allow 22.1 points per game, but Villanova led the CAA and ranked eighth nationally in rushing defense at 106.7 yards per contest. Crocker’s defense also ranked in the Top 25 in three other categories, including turnovers forced (17th), tackles for loss (23rd) and opponent third down percentage (25th). Under Crocker’s direction, linebacker Don Cherry tallied 134 tackles – 21.5 for loss – with 10 sacks on the way to being named a First Team All-American and a First Team All-CAA performer while placing second in the Buck Buchanan voting for national defensive player of the year.
Before serving as Villanova’s defensive coordinator, Crocker was the team’s linebackers coach and special teams coordinator in 2011. During that season, he guided then-freshman linebacker and current Elon assistant coach Dillon Lucas to Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in both the CAA and ECAC while earning Third Team All-CAA Football recognition after recording a team-high 92 tackles throughout his first season with the program.
Prior to his one season as linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, Crocker spent his first five seasons at Villanova as the team’s defensive line coach. Before joining Villanova, Crocker spent two seasons as the running backs coach at Albany in 2003 and 2004, helping the Great Danes to the 2003 NEC championship while tutoring Gary Jones to Third Team Associated Press All-America honors.
A defensive back at the United States Coast Guard Academy from 1997-2001, Crocker was a three-year letterwinner in football while also playing baseball for one season. He finished his education at Villanova in 2002, earning a degree in Business Administration. Crocker also completed his master’s in Curriculum Development & Instructional Technology at Albany.
Trisciani on Crocker: “Billy Crocker is the right guy to lead our defense. I learned a lot of football working with him at Villanova when he was the defensive coordinator. During his 12 years at Villanova he coached all three levels of the 3-3-5 scheme, won a national championship in 2009 and developed multiple NFL linebackers. The continuity in scheme will only help our kids continue to play fast and physical. Billy is a great teacher and a proven recruiter and he, his wife Kristi and their three children – Ryan, Will and Bryn – will be great additions to the Elon community.”
Chris Bland – Cornerbacks
Bland, a two-sport student-athlete at Elon in both football and baseball and a 2008 graduate with a degree in Leisure and Sport Management, returns to the Phoenix football program as the cornerbacks coach after spending the last four seasons in the same position at Kennesaw State.
A member of the Elon defense when Trisciani was on staff with the Phoenix in 2006, Bland joined the Owls in February 2014 as part of coach Brian Bohannon’s initial staff and has been the team’s cornerbacks coach since the program’s first game in 2015. Over the course of his four seasons with Kennesaw State, he’s helped the Owls to an overall 37-12 record with two Big South championships and two FCS quarterfinals appearances.
In 2018, Bland’s unit helped Kennesaw State finish second in the nation and tops in the Big South in total defense with just 263.7 yards allowed per game. It also led the Big South in numerous defensive categories, including interceptions (13), rushing defense (111.7) and scoring defense (15.4). The stellar 2018 came on the heels of a strong 2017 in which KSU led the conference and finished second in the country in interceptions, picking off 24 passes with four coming in the red zone. That season, Kennesaw also finished third in the league in passing defense with 199.4 yards per game.
Under Bland’s leadership, cornerback Dante Blackmon became the first Owl alum to participate with a NFL team when he received an invite to mini-camp tryouts with the Indianapolis Colts before signing as an undrafted free agent in 2017. A First Team All-Big South performer, Blackmon led the conference and ranked second in the nation with six interceptions during the 2016 season.
Prior to his time at Kennesaw State, Bland spent three seasons at Brevard College as the defensive backs coach. He assumed the role of co-Defensive Coordinator before the 2013 season, where he coached junior linebacker Michael Gruber to Division II All-America honorable mention honors.
Before arriving at Brevard, Bland spent three seasons at East Carolina. In Greenville, N.C., he served two seasons as the defensive graduate assistant and one as a defensive assistant. He helped coach ECU to the Conference USA championship in 2009, along with appearances in the 2009 Liberty Bowl and the 2010 Military Bowl.
Bland’s coaching career began as defensive backs coach at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte, N.C., where the Trojans posted a 7-5 record and advanced to the North Carolina state playoffs in 2008.
In his time as a football player at Elon, Bland led Elon in interceptions as a junior under Trisciani’s leadership and was named a team captain as a senior in 2007.
Trisciani on Bland: “Chris played for me at Elon back in 2006 when he was a three-year starter and a captain during Pete Lembo’s tenure as our head football coach. I have followed Chris’s coaching career closely from East Carolina to Kennesaw State, where he’s helped develop a nationally-rated top-5 defense over the last few years. Chris played his high school football at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte, N.C., and has been a successful recruiter in the state for the last 10 seasons and we’re happy to have him back here at Elon.”
Andy Marino – Offensive Line
Marino joins the Phoenix football program after spending the 2018 season with Harvard. In his one season with the Crimson, it finished the year beating rival Yale 45-27 while going 6-4 on the season with a 4-3 record in Ivy League play.
After the season, the Crimson had 13 players earn All-Ivy League accolades. Three of those honorees were Marino’s offensive linemen in First Team performer Larry Allen and Second Team athletes Tim O’Brien and Liam Shanahan.
Before joining the Crimson, Marino spent four years at Lehigh, working with the offensive line and tight ends from 2014-17. In his last two seasons with the Mountain Hawks, Marino’s unit had three athletes earn All-Patriot League honors while paving the way for back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons for running back Dominick Bragalone. In his final season at Lehigh in 2017, Marino’s men also helped the team rate as the top passing offense in the conference.
Prior to joining Lehigh, Marino spent the 2013 season at Widener as assistant head coach, offensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and run game coordinator. The stop came after spending three seasons at Delaware, where he began his time as an offensive graduate assistant before coaching the tight ends and tackles. He also directed the punt team for the Blue Hens. In his first season in Newark, Delaware reached the FCS National Championship game but fell 20-19 to Eastern Washington.
A 2009 graduate of Lycoming College with a degree in History, Marino was a three-year started and two-year captain on the offensive line. In 2008, Marino was a MAC champion in the NCAA Division III National Playoff Qualifier. While at Delaware, Marino added a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration in 2012.
Marino’s coaching career started when he spent one season as offensive line coach for Trisciani, who was the head coach at the time at Whitehall High School in Pennsylvania.
Trisciani on Marino: “This was a very important hire for us. It was important to me that our offensive line coach have some lineage to Damian Wroblewski and that there would be some consistency in the teaching progression and scheme our players have been learning the last two years. Andy got his start as an offensive line coach working with Coach Wroblewski at Delaware before working with Drew Folmar at Lehigh. Andy is a proven winner, reaching the national championship game in 2010 and winning the Patriot League title at Lehigh before joining Harvard. He’s a hard worker and a great recruiter and we’re thrilled to have him on our staff.”
Dan Baranik – Director of Football Operations
Baranik joins the Phoenix football program with a vast range of football experience, which includes multiple head coaching positions at various levels.
Throughout his career, Baranik has served as a head coach for 16 seasons at Fishburne Military School (2011-17), Army Prep United States Military Academy Preparatory School (2001-05) and Waynesburg College (1994-2001). In addition to his coaching duties, Baranik served as headmaster at Fishburne and Assistant Dean of Recruitment and Retention at Waynesburg.
Other coaching stops along the way include serving as offensive coordinator at Guilford College (2010-11), recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach at Army West Point (2005-09), wide receivers and tight ends coach at Lehigh (1991-94), defensive secondary coach at Olivet Nazarene (1990-91), a graduate assistant working with running backs at Maryland (1988-90), outside linebackers coach at Lock Haven (1986-87) and a graduate assistant working with wide receivers at Shippensburg (1984-86).
Trisciani on Baranik: “Dan brings a great range of football experience to our program. He has coached both the FBS and FCS level, as well as serving as a Division 3 head coach. His experience will make him an asset to our staff and a great mentor for our players.”
Elon Football Coaching Staff (as of Jan. 5, 2019)
Tony Trisciani – Head Coach
Drew Folmar – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
Billy Crocker – Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Jerrick Hall – Defensive Line
Andy Marino – Offensive Line
Chris Bland – Cornerbacks
Clay Browning – Tight Ends
Dillon Lucas – Defensive Assistant
Nick DiMarco – Strength & Conditioning
Dan Baranik – Director of Football Operations