“Everyone was so friendly on campus that I was like, ‘This can’t be real,’” Andrews said, “and then here I am my freshman year walking to class for the first time and everyone says hello. It was so helpful. It’s just been amazing to be back and see that it’s still the same way. I hired some new coaches to add into the staff here, and we were grinding on the film and recruiting for two full days and I realized I hadn’t even shown them campus yet. I’m like, ‘Stop what you’re doing. We’re going to walk around campus.’ I took them on a campus tour and said, ‘All right now, the first person you see walking across campus out of the blue is just going to smile and say hello to you.’ Sure enough, that happened with the first three people we saw.”
Andrews announced the hiring of five assistant coaches on Jan. 12, including defensive coordinator John Bowes and offensive coordinator Greg Whalen.
Andrews worked with Bowes for six years at William & Mary.
“I’ve known him forever,” Andrews said, “and we’ve stayed in contact. I was in his wedding. He’s the godfather to my youngest daughter. We’re tight, and we’ve been great friends for a long time. He’s a great fit, and we’ve always wanted to work together again. We have a lot of similar ideas and philosophies on defense as well as in recruiting.”
Andrews and Whalen worked together last season at Western Michigan.
“Here’s what I love about Greg,” Andrews said. “He comes from a championship pedigree at North Central and then at Marian, where he did a great job. Then we hired him at Western Michigan to coach our tight ends. His office was right next door to mine. He’s just a great human being first off and foremost, and I love the fact that he has recruited the area. That was a big piece of it. He knows how a whole program runs. He’s very, very good at solving problems, whether it’s in recruiting or whether it’s just logistical. I got to watch him up close and personal for the last year and I know what a good coach he is, what a good football mind he has and how he relates to players and parents and recruiting process.”
The other three coaches Andrew hired played at William & Mary while Andrews coached there: Ted Hefter, who will serve as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach; Paul Amakihe, who will coach the defensive line; and Nate Atkins, the linebackers and special teams coach.
The whole coaching staff is entering an important period for recruiting. They’re recruiting players former coach Rick Chamberlin and his staff were pursuing and identifying new talent, while perfecting their recruiting pitch.
“It’s a special place,” Andrews said, “and I think you can talk about it all you want, but until you get on campus and really see everything and how it all goes together and how it’s a true family as far as not just the football staff and the football players but the entire university, it’s not a hard sell. It’s everybody working together as one, whether it’s the admissions office or the dining services or the education portion, or the career services, everybody. It’s like everybody’s pulling in the same direction, which you don’t see everywhere.”
The new staff has received three commitments this week alone. Desmond Owens, a linebacker from Miamisburg, announced his commitment Tuesday. Ben Meehan, a tackle from Marist High School in Chicago, committed Wednesday. Noah Dudik, a wide receiver from Bishop Chatard in Indianapolis, committed Sunday.
With a new coaching staff comes roster turnover. Shane Hamm, who started the last six games at quarterback after Dante Casciola suffered a season-ending injury, announced Jan. 5 he was transferring to Kentucky.
“There’s always a little bit of attrition,” Andrews said. “Some of the guys were leaving before I got here. A few came back. There’s always uncertainty anytime there’s a coaching change, but especially at a place like this, where there hasn’t been any type of regime change since 1977. Then Deion Sanders comes out the week before it all happens, and they’re all scared to death that I’m going to come in here and tell them all to get in the portal. There was just uncertainty.
“But what they didn’t realize is that I’m a Flyer, and I played for coach Chamberlin and Mike Kelly, so I have a sense of pride in this place and what it’s all about and how things are run. They’ve been successful for a long time, not just last year. So that is what I want to continue to work off of. Those two guys are why I coached. I got into this thing because of the experience I had here. The way they’ve run a program here is a benchmark for me. I’ll put a new twist on some things I’ve learned other places, but it will all complement what’s already been here.”