Eric Wagoner named Frostburg State football head coach

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Jan. 13—FROSTBURG, Md. — Frostburg State University has named Eric Wagoner as the 14th head coach in school history, according to a release from Frostburg State Athletics.

Bobcats Director of Athletics Troy Dell announced the move on Thursday afternoon. A press conference will be scheduled at a later date.

"I am extremely excited and humbled to be the next head football coach at Frostburg State University," said Wagoner. "Frostburg State University is a top academic and athletic institution, and the football program has a long and rich history. I look forward to upholding and continuing this legacy and cannot wait to get to work."

Wagoner succeeds DeLane Fitzgerald as head coach of the Bobcats, becoming their second coach at the Division II level after Fitzgerald was announced as the head coach at Division I Southern Utah on Dec. 14.

Wagoner has 15 years of coaching experience and spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator under Fitzgerald after being hired March 17, 2020, to succeed John Kelling, who Fitzgerald hired to be his defensive coordinator at Southern Utah.

"Eric was my recommendation when I left," Fitzgerald told the Times-News on Wednesday. "I made two pitches to Troy that he was the guy that should be hired. Eric is going to do a good job running the Frostburg State football program. Eric is a good guy from a good NAIA program in Indiana. A lot like a lot of people you meet from the Midwest, he's solid. Solid, steady college football coach. And he's a real solid recruiter."

The Bobcats have gone 13-2 over the past two seasons — 10-1 last fall and 3-1 during the pandemic season in the spring of 2021 — and won a share of the Mountain East Conference title this past season.

Frostburg State's defense yielded 16.36 points per game in 2021, good for 16th in all of Division II. The unit led the country in sacks (53), sacks per game (4.8) and tackles for loss per game (11), and second in the nation in total TFLs (121).

Under Wagoner's direction, 11 defensive players have earned All-MEC honors, including back-to-back conference Defensive Players of the Year in Zach Strand (Spring 2021) and Carl Igweh (Fall 2021).

"When John (Kelling) left to be the head coach at Loch Haven, I opened the search up and was looking for somebody that could come in and continue the excellence that we had going on on defense," Fitzgerald said. "Over and over and over, Eric kept popping up. His resume stood out. And he aggressively pursued the position, he wanted the position.

"Eric Wagoner is the typical Indiana Midwest guy. He's steady as a train. He's a steady football coach, he's solid as a rock. He'll do a nice job steering the ship going forward," Fitzgerald said.

Before coming to Frostburg State, Wagoner spent nearly 13 years on the staff of NAIA affiliate University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana. During his time with the Cougars, he held various positions, including defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and assistant coach.

During that time, Wagoner helped Saint Francis to two NAIA national titles and 10 playoff appearances. In 2016, he was named the Football Scoop NAIA Coordinator of the Year.

At Saint Francis, Wagoner served under the winningest NAIA coach of all-time, Kevin Donley, who is the fifth winningest college football coach at any level.

Wagoner also played at Saint Francis, where he received a bachelor's and master's degree in business administration. As a player, Wagoner was part of teams that went 51-4 with four conference championships and made three national championship game appearances.

"I'm very pleased to have Eric Wagoner assume the head coaching responsibilities," Frostburg State University President Ronald Nowaczyk said. "He's well respected by our student-athletes and knows the keys to our success here at Frostburg State. I look forward to the 'mark of success' Eric will help us achieve in the upcoming years."

Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.

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