James Spady enters his first season on “the Hill” as head football coach.
He coached the last three years at the University of Nevada, including a strong 2013 campaign that saw the Wolf Pack produce one of the top tight ends in the Mountain West Conference in John Mackey Award semifinalist Zach Sudfeld.
Spady is no stranger to developing talent. In his first year, he guided All-WAC tight end Virgil Green, who was picked in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Green, a multi-year starter, proved himself to be one of the best tight ends in program history during his career in Reno. Green, who played in more than 50 games in his career at Nevada, caught 72 passes in his career for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns while also serving as a devastating blocker in the run game.
In 2012, Spady guided one of the best comeback stories in college football as Sudfeld came back for a sixth season in his injury-riddled career at Nevada to start every game and become a semifinalist for the Mackey Award. Sudfeld earned All-Mountain West second-team honors as he caught 45 passes for 598 yards and set a school record for most touchdowns by a tight end with eight.
In his collegiate career at the University of Texas-El Paso, Spady was a four-year starter and twice earned first-team All-WAC honors at center. He was recently honored by being named to the Miners’ Centennial Team. After a three-year career in the Arena Football League, Spady returned to UTEP to begin his coaching career.
He spent 11 seasons with the Miners helping to develop both the offensive and defensive lines, as well as the tight ends. Spady coached the tight ends at UTEP from 1996-1999 when he aided in the development of Brian Natkin, a consensus All-American in 2000.
From 1993-1995, Spady was a student/graduate assistant coach working with both the offensive and defensive lines. Spady was the defensive line coach at UTEP from 2000-2003 and returned to the offensive side of the ball during the 2003 season when he took over the tight ends.
He came to Reno after three successful seasons as the offensive coordinator at Grambling State. During his time with the Tigers, the team grew offensively and reached the SWAC championship game in his first year. Grambling State led the SWAC in a number of offensive categories and a handful of Tigers players set school records and earned all-conference accolades.
Spady went to Grambling State after one season (2006) at North Carolina Central, where he helped the Eagles to a perfect 11-0 season and a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs. NCCU finished the season ranked fourth in the nation in the D-II Top 25 poll. NCCU led its conference in 12 offensive statistical categories and Spady’s offensive line yielded just 10 sacks in 289 pass attempts.
Prior to his stint at North Carolina Central, Spady spent two seasons as the offensive line coach at South Carolina State from 2004 to 2005. Under Spady’s tutelage, the offensive line cleared the way for 9,049 yards of total offense and 34.7 points per game during the 2004-05 seasons.
In addition to his collegiate coaching duties, Spady is also an avid student of the game as he has served two NFL Minority Internships with the Green Bay Packers in 1997 and in 1999 with the Philadelphia Eagles. During June 2007, Spady was one of 28 coaches selected to participate in the 2008 NCAA Expert Coaches Academy in Dallas.