UTC's Will Healy named head coach at Austin Peay

Former UTC coach Will Healy celebrates a Mocs touchdown at Austin Peay in the inaugural game at Governors Stadium in September 2014.

Will Healy couldn't pass up the opportunity.

The 30-year-old Chattanooga native and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga assistant football coach long has wanted the chance to be a head coach, and now he has it. He was hired Monday afternoon as the new leader of the Austin Peay State University program.

Healy will be introduced at the Governors' basketball game tonight and will be part of a noon news conference Wednesday. As the Clarksville school's 19th head coach, he succeeds Kirby Cannon, who went 1-34 in three seasons at APSU and had 32 losses by double digits.

photo Receivers coach Will Healy talks with linebacker Whit Shelton in the final seconds of UTC's 42-6 win over Austin Peay, while offensive lineman Corey Levin looks on. The UTC Mocs visited the Austin Peay State University Governors in the inaugural game of their new Governors Stadium.

The Governors, who play in the Ohio Valley Conference, were 0-11 in 2015 but return 40 of the 44 players in the two-deep rotation.

"Will is a bright, outstanding, up-and-coming coach," Austin Peay athletic director Ryan Ivey said in a news release. "As a rising star in the profession, he brings an energy and enthusiasm into the program that will allow us to be at our best both on the field and in the community. His pedigree with Coach (Russ) Huesman at Chattanooga and the success they had in resurrecting that program places him in a unique position to help us get our program turned around and places us on a successful trajectory for the future."

Healy said he was blown away by what he saw when he made trips to the campus to check things out.

"It's a tremendous recruiting area," he said Monday night. "I've got an athletic director and a president that are 100 percent supportive of us doing what it takes to be successful in that league.

"When you add the opportunity to hire the staff I believe we'll be able to hire, and recruit who I believe we'll be able to recruit into a university like Austin Peay, it's a no-brainer. I was amazed by how good the opportunity was, and we're going to make the most of it."

Healy has held many titles in his seven seasons with the Mocs - quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach, passing game coordinator and recruiting coordinator. After a standout prep career at Boyd-Buchanan in which he was a two-time all-state honoree and a Mr. Football finalist, Healy went to the University of Richmond, where he was a quarterback on the Spiders' 2008 Football Championship Subdivision national title team.

He followed Richmond defensive coordinator Huesman to UTC when Huesman was named the Mocs' head coach in 2009, and he coached quarterbacks in his first season before taking over as the receivers coach the following season.

Healy was involved in three consecutive conference championships and back-to-back FCS playoff appearances at UTC.

"The reality is that if Russ Huesman didn't give me the opportunity to be the quarterback coach at 24 years old, and if all the players hadn't played well enough to allow us to be successful, I wouldn't have had this opportunity," Healy said. "I would not be a potential candidate for a Division I coaching job.

"There are so many that have been supportive of me, and it's going to be hard to leave that support system. It's not going to be an easy transition, but it's a transition we believe in. We believe we can be successful there and will be successful there."

Healy has a few ideas about potential candidates to join his staff at Austin Peay, but he wouldn't go into detail about them. He said his prior relationships are "very important" in building a staff and he has to make sure he has a great staff that "won't allow me to fail as a head coach."

"I want people that aren't going to be yes men but will have the same ideals, beliefs and morals that I have," Healy said. "I want guys that value family and relationships, and I want people who will work their rear end off to make sure we're successful. We want winners, and the guys I know that are like that are the guys that will get the first phone calls.

"I don't claim to know the answers and I'll have to learn a lot, but I believe in the mentors I have and I will lean on them. I'm confident that I will be able to learn, and if I don't have an answer, I'll figure it out."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.