Scotty Walden watches his players during a practice while coaching at Southern Mississippi. USM SPORTS INFORMATION

There have been a lot of changes when it comes to coaching APSU football over the past calendar year.

Scotty Walden, who was announced as the Governors new head coach in October, is the third man set to lead the APSU program in the previous two years.

Walden has brought in a haul of former colleagues to his first FCS coaching staff. The coach added eight new assistant coaches to help guide the Govs through their spring slate of games, five of which previously coaching alongside or playing for the 31-year-old. Here is what you need to know about each of the seven new faces coming to the sidelines in Clarksville.

Chris Kappas – defensive coordinator

Kappas spent the previous eight seasons as a coordinator at Division III Mount Union before joining his second Division I coaching staff. During his tenure with the Raiders, Kappas and Mount Union notched four national championships.

The coach was officially announced as defensive coordinator on Dec. 1, replacing co-defensive coordinators Mark Powell and Dominique Bowman. Powell remains on staff for APSU and now serves as the linebackers coach. Bowman opted to leave the program and took a co-defensive coordinator position at UT Martin before ultimately ending up as a cornerbacks coach at the Marshall University.

“Scotty is a first class man with morals and values that align directly with mine,” Kappas said of the position to “I cannot thank him enough for the opportunity and look forward to making an impact on the young men at Austin Peay and the community of Clarksville.”

Akeem Davis – co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach

Akeem Davis represents one of the most recent hires to the Governors newly-formed staff. APSU first reported the addition of Davis on Jan. 5, nearly a month before their first game at Tennessee Tech.

Davis and Walden were both coaches last season at Southern Mississippi. The former led the cornerbacks and running backs over the last two seasons, respectively. Davis’ designation towards defensive backs will be his third different specialized coaching position in three years.

The 31-year-old brings NFL experience to Clarksville, spending three seasons in the league following a collegiate career at the University of Memphis.

“I believe Akeem has a rare combination of knowledge for the game as well as an unbelievable energy and passion for young people,” Walden said in a statement. “He has seen and played the game at its highest level, and I know our players will thrive under his leadership and energy.”

Shane Tucker – tight ends coach

A standout performer at Middle Tennessee State, Tucker has coached wide receivers for the past two seasons at Dodge City Community College and MTSU. He’ll be joined by former Blue Raiders’ wideout coach Austin Silvoy in Clarksville.

Tucker’s primarily role in Murfreesboro a year ago was as an offensive graduate assistant. He succeeds Deane Cheatham, a volunteer assistant who was designated to work with the tight end group after being brought in by former interim head coach Marquase Lovings in August.

The coach will instruct a former Blue Raider teammate in William Wilcox. Wilcox transferred to APSU in the fall of 2020 after spending three seasons at Middle Tennessee as a wide receiver and a linebacker. The former Blue Raider saw snaps at tight end in the fall, and is accompanied at the position by Luke Springer, Elijah Brown, Brandon Lanier and Eugene Minter.

Josh Cochran – co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach

Although Walden noted in his introductory press conference that he would handle the play calling in 2021, that didn’t stop the coach from grabbing two individuals to aid with the Governors up-tempo offense this spring.

Before serving as an offensive quality control coach at Baylor and the University of North Carolina, Cochran coached under Walden at East Texas Baptist University. He primarily dealt with the offensive line for the Tigers, a similar role that he will embrace at APSU.

Cochran replaces former offensive coordinator Tim Zetts. In Zetts’ two seasons at the helm of the offense, the Govs scored an average of 30.8 points per game.

Austin Silvoy joins the APSU coaching staff after spending the previous five seasons at MTSU. | MTSU Athletics
Austin Silvoy joins the APSU coaching staff after spending the previous five seasons at MTSU

Austin Silvoy – co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach

Joining Cochran on the offensive side of the ball is Austin Silvoy, a longtime wide receivers coach throughout multiple levels of college football. Silvoy has spent each of the last five seasons on staff at MTSU, four of which spent as a coach out wide.

Prior to his stint in Murfreesboro, the coach was part of the first ever staff at Florida Tech University and also instructed wide receivers at Division II school Central Oklahoma.

With high-performing wideouts such as Baniko Harley, Geordon Pollard and DeAngelo Wilson, Silvoy should have a smooth transition to producing offense through the air in 2021.

Brian Baca – assistant quarterbacks coach

Baca, Walden and graduate assistant JaVaughn Craig fuse together in guiding the quarterback group for the 2021 season. The ETBU graduate was a freshman under center during Walden’s tenure with the Tigers, and threw for over 2,200 yards in his senior season.

Before joining the Govs, Baca spent last fall as a strength and conditioning coordinator at Rock Hill High School in Prosper, Texas. The Blue Hawks finished the 2020 season 1-7.

Kirk Bryant – “Govs backs coach”

Described as a “rising star in the profession,” by Walden, Bryant’s position as “Govs backs coach” is just as interesting as it is deserving. The coach’s technical designation is for the inside wide receivers, an area he has emphasized in at Baylor, East Texas Baptist and Mississippi College.

Prior to a four-year coaching career with the Bears, Bryant and Walden worked with one another at ETBU in 2016. Bryant then spent the next four seasons at Baylor, leading the Bears’ quarterbacks and running backs. He shares coaching duties with Silvoy when it comes to leading the Govs wide receivers.

Jourdan McNeill – running backs coach

Walden brings in another familiar face in Jourdan McNeill, who was a running back under the coach during his stint at ETBU. In his playing career, McNeill finished as the school’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns.

The Irving, Texas native coached running backs at Belhaven University for the past three seasons while obtaining a master’s degree in leadership. The position is just his second as a coach.

McNeill replaces Stephen Smith at the position. Smith was added to Marquase Lovings’ staff on Aug. 1, and departed following the Governors fall slate of competition.

Walden and his lot of new coaches aim to bring back-to-back OVC Championships to Clarksville for the first time in school history. The Governors conference season begins Feb. 21 at Tennessee Tech.