Troy names Jon Sumrall as new Head Coach
TROY, Ala. – One of the most respected recruiters in the country, Jon Sumrall has been named Troy’s new football head coach, Troy Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. and Director of Athletics Brent Jones announced Thursday. Sumrall returns to Troy after spending three seasons (2015-17) as the assistant head coach on Neal Brown’s staff.
Sumrall will formally be introduced to Trojan Nation at a press conference Monday at 11 a.m. in the Stadium Club at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Sumrall’s introductory press conference will be streamed live on Facebook (TroyAthletics) and Twitter (TroyTrojansFB).
“We are excited to appoint Jon Sumrall to lead our Trojan football program,” Dr. Hawkins said. “Jon is a proven winner. He possesses the values, love of Troy and experience to lead our university to championship status.”
“Jon Sumrall exceeded all the criteria we had when searching for a new leader for our football program,” Jones said. “He is a proven winner and a dynamic recruiter that will continue to build upon our championship legacy. In Jon, we have a leader who is energetic, intense and brings a level of passion that is unmatched. He fully understands our championship expectations and has a comprehensive plan to take Troy Football to the top of the Sun Belt Conference and the Group of Five. We are thrilled to welcome Jon, Ginny, Sam, Sadie, Stella and Selah back to Troy, and I know our community is excited to welcome them with open arms. I have no doubt Jon Sumrall is the right man to lead us into a new era of Troy Football.”
Recently promoted to co-defensive coordinator on Mark Stoops’ staff at Kentucky, Sumrall coaches the Wildcats’ inside linebackers for the squad that is in the midst of a 9-3 season and is ranked as high as No. 22 in the country. Kentucky finished second in the SEC East, marking the first time since the league split into divisions in 1992 that UK ended the season in sole possession of second place in the East. The Wildcats allowed 17 or fewer points in seven of its 12 games in 2021 and held No. 1 Georgia to its second-lowest offensive output of the season.
“Troy University and the Troy community left an indelible mark on our family,” Sumrall said. “I am humbled and extremely grateful to Dr. Hawkins, Brent Jones and the entire selection committee for their trust in me to lead this storied football program. Ginny and I fell in love with Troy and can’t wait to return home and reconnect with the tremendous fan base. Troy Football has a proud tradition of success, and I look forward to leading this program back to a championship level.”
Kentucky enters the weekend with the nation’s No. 25 defense in tow in addition to ranking fourth in fourth-down defense, 16th in rushing defense and 11th in defensive touchdowns.
During his tenure at Troy, Sumrall helped lead the Trojans to a pair of bowl victories, the school’s first since 2010, the 2017 Sun Belt Conference title, and a stunning victory at LSU. The Trojans won a school-record 11 games in 2017, and the Troy defense ranked first in the nation in red zone defense (.614), second in tackles for loss per game (8.6), seventh in rushing defense (105.3), 11th in scoring defense and 24th in total defense per game (336.6).
In his first season at Troy, the Trojans finished with the second-best turnaround nationally in opponent 3rd-down percentage (14.62 percent), the fourth-best turnaround in yards per play allowed (-1.13), the fifth-best improvement in tackles for loss per game (2.59) and 16th-best improvement in total defense (-62.7).
Troy held opponents to 391.2 yards per game, an improvement of 62.8 yards from the previous season and under 400 yards for the first time since the 2008 season. The Trojans scored five defensive touchdowns, the third-most in the country and most by a Troy team since 2004.
Troy finished the 2016 season 10-3 with a victory in the Dollar General Bowl, the first top-25 ranking in school and Sun Belt Conference history and the best win-improvement in the country. The Trojans finished the year second nationally in passes intercepted, fourth in turnovers forced, 17th in rushing defense, 21st holding opponents to 22.1 points per game and 28th in third-down defense.
Sumrall departed Troy for Ole Miss before the 2018 season and returned to his alma mater in Lexington, Kentucky the following year.
Sumrall oversaw an effective four-man rotation at the middle and weakside linebacker positions in his first season at Kentucky. UK’s defense helped keep every opponent at or below 30 points, the first time the Wildcats have done that since 1979. UK ended the season with a thrilling win over Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl, UK’s fourth straight bowl appearance.
Sumrall’s starting linebackers, Jamin Davis and DeAndre Square, were two of the top three tacklers in 2020, combining for 162 total tackles. Davis made a significant impact under Sumrall’s tutelage, making 144 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, five interceptions, three pass break ups, three quarterback hurries, one block, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. He ranked fourth in the SEC in tackles per game (10.2) and was first-team All-SEC by Pro Football Focus and second team All-SEC by Phil Steele. Davis was a first-round draft pick by the Washington Football Team in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Kentucky capped the most unusual of seasons with an impressive victory in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, the program’s third consecutive bowl victory, tying the school record set from 2006-08. The 23-21 victory over No. 24 NC State also marked the second win over a ranked team in the 2020 season. UK also defeated No. 18 Tennessee.
Sumrall was a three-year letterwinner at middle linebacker at Kentucky from 2002-04. He started every game in 2004, leading the Wildcats with 72 tackles. He also excelled off the field as he was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll and was selected to the Frank G. Ham Society of Character. After earning his degree in finance in 2005, Sumrall served as a graduate assistant for the Wildcats during the 2005 and 2006 seasons under head coach Rich Brooks.
He left Kentucky in 2007 and spent five seasons under head coach Ron Caragher in various positions at San Diego, including defensive coordinator during his final two seasons. He served as the defensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and camp coordinator for the first three years before assuming the defensive coordinator and linebackers coaching role in 2010. During his final season with the Toreros, Sumrall was promoted to assistant head coach.
In 2011, the Toreros ranked 15th nationally in run defense (113.0), 13th in pass efficiency defense, fourth in sacks (3.64), and 16th in third-down defense (32.2 percent).
The San Diego defense had numerous players receive accolades. Defensive end Blake Oliaro was named Pioneer Football League Defensive Player of the Year, Associated Press Football Championship Subdivision second team All-American and first team all-conference.
In Sumrall’s first season as defensive coordinator in 2010, the defense ranked first in scoring defense (16.1), total defense (265.0), run defense (67.1), and third-down defense (31.7 percent) in league play, and was also ranked second in pass defense (197.9).
Following the 2010 season, defensive end Mario Kurn was named a Ted Hendricks Award finalist, Buck Buchanan Award Finalist, first team All-American by Phil Steele and The Sports Network, second team All-American by the Associated Press and first team all-conference.
In 2007, Sumrall coached defensive end Eric Bakhtiari, a 2007 Walter Camp First Team All-American, an Associated Press First Team All-American, a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award and was named the PFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Before joining the Troy staff in 2015, Sumrall spent three seasons at Tulane (2012-14), where he coached the defensive line the first two seasons before coaching the linebackers his final season.
In 2013, he was a crucial part of Tulane’s run to the New Orleans Bowl as the Green Wave finished second in the nation with 35 forced turnovers. It was Tulane’s first bowl game since 2002 and third since 1988. Tulane finished fourth nationally with 16 fumble recoveries, sixth with 19 interceptions, 22nd nationally in total defense (352.1), 13th in sacks per game (2.92) and 11th in red zone defense (73.5 percent) that year.
Under Sumrall’s tutelage, defensive end Julius Warmsley earned First Team All-Conference USA honors after leading the team with 18.5 tackles for loss. Sumrall also was named a finalist for FootballScoop Defensive Line Coach of the Year along with coaches from Michigan State, Stanford and Missouri.
The Huntsville, Alabama native was a two-time all-state performer and a four-year letter winner at Grissom High School.
He is married to the former Ginny Nixon, also of Huntsville, and the couple has four children, Sam, Sadie, Stella and Selah.