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After a nationwide search, West Virginia State University (WVSU) today announced the hiring of John Pennington as the school’s new Head Football Coach.

Pennington has served as the Yellow Jackets’ Offensive Coordinator for the past two seasons and was the offensive line and special teams coach in 2010. He has been the interim head coach since December.

“I am appreciative that John Pennington will take the lead as the Head Coach for the Yellow Jackets football team,” said WVSU President Anthony L. Jenkins. “His leadership as offensive coordinator and history within athletics will provide a direct impact to our student-athletes as they excel in football, but also in the classroom.”

Under Pennington’s direction, WVSU moved from next to last in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) in total offense in 2014 to third in 2016. The Yellow Jackets led the conference in passing in 2015 and were second in 2016 when starting quarterback Matt Kinnick missed several games due to an injury.

WVSU averaged 13.1 points per game in 2014 and saw that increase to 30.5 in Pennington’s first season as offensive coordinator.

“I’m extremely honored and grateful to be the next Head Football Coach at West Virginia State,” Pennington said. “I want to thank President Jenkins, Nate Burton, and the search committee for giving me this great opportunity.”

A Charleston native, Pennington was a star football and baseball player at George Washington High School and played wide receiver for West Virginia University.

“Since becoming the Interim Head Coach, I have been blown away by the pride and passion of our alumni, faculty, and fans,” Pennington said. “We are going to build a Championship Program that develops young men into extraordinary leaders. I am blessed to be able to stay home, raise my family here, and have a positive impact on the community I was raised in. Go State!”

He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at West Virginia Wesleyan in 2005. Pennington then spent two seasons in Montgomery coaching defensive backs, offensive linemen, and ran the strength and conditioning program.

Pennington has also served as the Offensive Coordinator and Associate Head Coach of the semi-pro West Virginia Lightning football team based in Charleston. During his time with the Lightning, the team won two United States Football Association championships.

From February 2011 until coming to Institute he had been on the staff at Concord University. There he held a variety of positions including Special Teams Coordinator, Head Strength Coach, Wide Receivers Coach and Director of Football Operations.

“I am looking forward to seeing what our young men can accomplish on the field, in the classroom, and in the community under Coach Pennington,” WVSU Athletic Director Nate Burton said. “After a nationwide search it became obvious that he was the right person for the job.”

The Yellow Jackets posted a 3-8 record in 2016 but ended the season winning their final two games. The program returns eight starters on offense and 10 on defense for the 2017 season.

Among the offensive players who can return are record-setting quarterback Matt Kinnick, top receiver Quinton Gray, and leading rushers Juwan Etheredge and Dionta Brown. The defensive leaders coming back include linebacker Trent Williamson, defensive back Kevin Coffie, and linebacker Kaylan Striggle.

Pennington resides in Charleston with his wife Andrea and their children, Nolan, 5, Levi, 2, and newborn Ava.

Follow West Virginia State University on Facebook and Twitter @WVStateU.

West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363

Posted By: Elly Moss
Monday, January 30th 2017 at 2:47PM
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