ELON, N.C. – Elon University head football coach Tony Trisciani has announced the hiring of Mario Acitelli to his staff on Tuesday, January 21. Acitelli joins the Phoenix after spending the 2019 season in the ACC with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Acitelli will serve as the program’s tight ends coach and special teams coordinator. He replaces Tony Lucas on staff, who departed earlier this month as Elon’s running backs coach and special teams coordinator to be the running backs coach at Old Dominion. With the change, Clay Browning continues as the team’s recruiting coordinator while shifting from tight ends to coach the team’s running backs.
“Mario is a North Carolina guy with CAA, ACC and Big 12 experience,” Trisciani said. “As a player and coach, Mario has a reputation as being highly intelligent with a detail-oriented passion for the game of football. I remember Mario from the recruiting process back in 2006 when we arrived at Elon from Lehigh with Pete Lembo; he was a relentless competitor and leader at Charlotte Catholic and Appalachian State. We’re excited to welcome Mario, his wife Sara, and his daughter Leona, to our Elon football family.”
Familiar with the Colonial Athletic Association landscape, Acitelli joined the Tar Heels after spending the previous five seasons at William & Mary as the team’s tight ends and fullbacks coach all five years while serving as the special teams coordinator in 2017 and 2018. Other stops along the way include three years as a graduate assistant for Mack Brown at Texas from 2011-13 and a student assistant coach with his alma mater, Appalachian State.
With the Tar Heels as a special teams analyst, Acitelli worked with Michael Carter, who was named Third Team All-ACC for his performance as both a running back and an all-purpose player. On special teams, Carter averaged 25.2 yards per kickoff return, which ranked fourth in the ACC. In all, he finished the year with 1,503 all-purpose yards. Overall in 2019, the Tar Heels blocked three kicks, which tied for 14th in the nation.
Before reuniting with Coach Brown at UNC, he spent five seasons in Williamsburg, Va., with the Tribe for former head coach Jimmye Laycock. During the 2015 season, wide receiver Devonte Dedmon garnered CAA Football Special Teams Player of the Year honors. Acitelli’s position group also consistently ranked among the best in the CAA, as the team’s tight ends and fullbacks combined for eight All-CAA recognitions in five years. Highlighting those honorees was three-time All-CAA tight end Andrew Caskin, who earned a rookie camp invite with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. During the 2018 season, sophomore tight end Nick Muse set William & Mary records for receptions per game, yards per game and yards per catch by a tight end.
In addition to his tight end success, a trio of fullbacks – Andrew Weidinger, Darnell Laws and Tyler Crist – earned all-league accolades during Acitelli’s tenure. Caskin and Weidinger also distinguished themselves by being selected as semifinalists for the prestigious Campbell Trophy, now Draddy Trophy, which is announced by the National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of Fame and is awarded annually to the nation’s top football scholar-athlete.
Acitelli joined the Tribe in 2014 after serving as a graduate assistant at Texas for the previous three seasons. In addition to coaching the Longhorns defensive scout team, he assisted with on-field instruction for the offensive line and tight ends.
Before UT, Acitelli served as a student assistant coach at his alma mater – Appalachian State – in 2010. In that role, he coached the defensive scout team and assisted with multiple aspects of the program, including on-field instruction for the offensive line.
A four-year starter and team captain for the Mountaineers, Acitelli was a member of the 2006 and ’07 FCS national championship teams. In 2009, he won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is awarded to the Southern Conference’s top offensive lineman. A highlight of Acitelli’s career came during the 2007 season as a member of the Mountaineer program that upset No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Acitelli earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Appalachian State in 2010 and a master’s degree in advertising from Texas in 2013. A Charlotte, N.C., native, Acitelli attended Charlotte Catholic High School, where he was inducted into their Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.
Acitelli is married to the former Sara Cline. The couple has one daughter, Leona.
2020 | Elon – Tight Ends & Special Teams Coordinator
2019 | North Carolina – Special Teams Analyst
2017-18 | William & Mary – Tight Ends, Fullbacks & Special Teams Coordinator
2014-16 | William & Mary – Tight Ends & Fullbacks
2011-13 | Texas – Graduate Assistant
2010 | Appalachian State – Student Assistant