Valpo Football Announces Additions to Coaching Staff
Head coach Landon Fox has announced five additions to his coaching staff as the team gears up for the upcoming spring practice schedule. Andrew Prevost has joined the staff as offensive line coach, while Damien Ross has been tabbed the team’s wide receivers coach. In addition, Jackson Smith has returned to the staff in an assistant coaching capacity, while Trevor McConnell and Owen Chandler will handle quality control.
Prevost arrives at Valpo after having previously been on staff at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D. since the 2016 season. After coaching tight ends and assisting with special teams during his first two years on staff, Prevost was elevated to offensive line coach beginning with the 2018 season. He helped the Coyotes reach the FCS Playoffs in 2017 and 2021, the first two appearances in program history.
During his time in South Dakota, Prevost coached three All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honorable mention choices, three All-MVFC Second Team selections, five MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week recipients, four MVFC All-Academic Team choices, two Freshmen All-Americans, two Academic All-Americans and one Preseason All-American.
“My family and I are very grateful to be a part of the Valparaiso community, Valparaiso University and the Valpo football program,” Prevost said. “I have had the opportunity to watch film of previous Coach Fox football teams, and I was always impressed with their high level of effort, toughness, and discipline. I’m excited to learn from this great staff and to mentor these young men to be great football players, students and community members.”
Before arriving in South Dakota, Prevost spent three seasons at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill. He coached the defensive line in 2013 before working with tight ends and being involved in all aspects of special teams each of the next two seasons. During his time with the program, the Leathernecks advanced to the second round of the FCS Playoffs in 2015. He coached one All-MVFC selection and one All-MVFC Honorable Mention choice.
Prevost spent two seasons at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2012 and 2013, coaching outside linebackers, short snappers and long snappers while having a variety of responsibilities within special teams. He coached two first team all-conference selections, one all-conference honorable mention, two D2Football.com All-American honorable mention choices, one second team all-region pick and two academic all-conference honorees. The team made back-to-back NCAA Playoff appearances, won one conference title and won the conference’s north division in both seasons.
Prevost got his start at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, where he coached running backs and assisted with the offensive line. A 2011 Wisconsin Eau Claire graduate with a degree in organizational communication and information systems, Prevost went on to earn his master’s in educational administration from Minnesota Duluth in 2013.
“I’m excited about the experience that Coach Prevost is going to bring to the offensive line group,” Fox said. “He has good experience in a really competitive league in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. He worked for Bob Nielson, who has a chance to be a College Football Hall of Famer, and was with him from Minnesota Duluth to Western Illinois to South Dakota. Everywhere Andy has been, they’ve won.”
Ross comes to Valpo after a stint at Northwood University in Midland, Mich., where he spent the last year as the wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator. He served as Interim Offensive Coordinator for one game, which saw the offense produce 55 points, its highest scoring output since 2005. He tutored a wide receiver who finished 13th in program history in career receptions. Ross co-coordinated the team’s special teams unit, overseeing kickoff and kickoff return teams. Northwood led the GMAC in net kickoff yards per kick and total kickoff return yards.
“Anytime you get to be a part of an institution that has the academic prestige Valpo does, you have to jump at that opportunity,” Ross said. “It’s great to see what Coach Fox has done with the football program in such a short period of time. I’m excited to come help continue the growth, and also learn and collaborate with some really good coaches on staff.”
Prior to Northwood, Ross worked as the wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator at Missouri University of Science and Technology from March 2019 to February 2022. Before that, he was the head coach at Bangor High School (2017-2019), the wide receivers coach at MacMurray College (2016-2017), the running backs coach at Midland University (2015-2016) and the defensive backs coach at Midland (2014-2015).
A 2014 Siena Heights University graduate with a degree in sport management, Ross earned his MBA from Midland in December 2015.
“Damien comes to us from Northwood and also has a background at Missouri S&T, which is attractive both in terms of good football and good academics,” Fox said. “He not only fits from a football standpoint, but also understands academics being a high priority for the players and for the University. He’s a good Valpo fit.”
Smith returns for a second stint on staff after previously serving as the defensive tackles coach from February 2020 to May 2021. Since leaving the Brown & Gold, Smith gained experience at Averett University in Danville, Va. as the defensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and co-special teams coordinator. His unit led the conference in blocked punts, while he was a position coach for four all-conference selections. He also instructed Averett’s single-season and career sacks recordholder and coached the individual who led the nation for combined kickoff returns and punt returns.
“I am very excited to be rejoining Coach Fox and his staff here at Valparaiso University,” Smith said. “My fiancé Nicole and I are thrilled to be back in this community. This program embodies what it means to truly develop student-athletes, and does so with a competitive nature that has created an amazing opportunity moving forward for the Valpo Football program.”
Smith began his coaching career at his alma mater Elmhurst College, where he worked with linebackers (2017), the defensive line (2018) and outside linebackers/defensive ends (2019) while helping two players in his position group garner all-conference recognition. Smith graduated from Elmhurst in May 2017 after playing football from 2012-2016 including his final season as a team captain.
“One thing we always say is that we want really good people as part of our program,” Fox said. “Jackson did a tremendous job in an intern role for us. When we had an opportunity to bring him back to our staff, this was a no-brainer. He does an outstanding job in terms of his player relationships and he’s from Chicago.”
McConnell will handle offensive quality control while serving as assistant quarterbacks coach. He was a team captain and five-year quarterback at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, where he graduated in May 2022 with a degree in sports management and public relations.
“I am excited to join a program and community that is all about people and relationships,” McConnell said. “Coach Fox has an incredible vision for where he believes Valparaiso football can go, and I am excited to join this University and continue to grow and learn from, and with, this phenomenal staff.”
McConnell spent the final four weeks of his senior season as a quarterback player-coach due to an injury. He helped a senior QB earn first-team all-conference accolades. McConnell also served as Ohio Northern football’s director of multi-media and recruiting assistant.
“Trevor is bright and understands offensive scheme well from a big-picture perspective,” Fox said. “More importantly, he’s eager to assist by whatever means necessary to make our program successful.”
Chandler was teammates with McConnell at Ohio Northern and closed out his career as a student assistant after his playing tenure was cut short by an injury. He assisted in player development drills with linebackers (2021) and defensive backs (2022). He also served as a football operations intern.
“From a defensive perspective, Owen really gets it as a young coach,” Fox said. “Because of his injury, he was able to become part of the staff at Ohio Northern, so he was able to gain experience as both a coach and a player as an undergraduate student.”
Chandler, who graduated from Ohio Northern in December 2022 with a degree in business administration, earned the Daniel Q. Gennett Bear Award in Fall 2021 for overall contribution to the Ohio Northern football program. He garnered the OHSAA Archie Griffin Award in Spring 2019 for displaying positive sportsmanship and leadership while maintaining a high level of play.
The Valpo football program will continue to announce additions to the coaching staff in the coming weeks. The Beacons will look to build on their recent run of success this fall after garnering the program’s highest Pioneer Football League win total in a three-year period in program history over the last three seasons.
What They’re Saying About Andrew Prevost
AJ Blazek, Vanderbilt Offensive Line Coach: “Andy is a passionate coach who will pour into his players. He has high energy and is great at building a culture in his position room. Andy and Courtney are outstanding parents and they will take care of the Valpo offensive line like their own kids. They are definitely a football family.”
Ron Crook, South Dakota Tight Ends Coach & Special Teams Coordinator: “Andy is an extremely hard worker and he coaches his players hard. He is greatly respected by his players and colleagues.”
What They’re Saying About Damien Ross
Andy Ball, Missouri S&T Head Coach: “In his time at S&T, Coach Ross did a tremendous job of recruiting and developing top notch student-athletes. He was a wonderful mentor and voice to everyone he coached. Coach Ross also helped us develop a high-powered offense. He is going to be a great asset for the Valpo football program.”
What They’re Saying About Jackson Smith
David Clark Jr., Averett Defensive Coordinator: “Coach Smith did a great job as a coach and mentor for both our defensive line and special teams units. He did a great job working alongside our staff and transferring his knowledge to his players. He was a pleasure to work with, and I look forward to watching the rest of his career.”
Eli Kosanovich, Offensive Line Coach at RPI: “Jackson is a relentless worker, a tireless recruiter and one of the best friends a guy could ask for. He’s going to contribute immediately and his impact will be felt.”
What They’re Saying About Owen Chandler
Dean Paul, Ohio Northern Head Coach: “Owen knew he wanted to coach earlier than most who make that choice. It was clear from early on that he had a full understanding of the entire defense. When he transitioned from player to coach while injured, he made such a positive impact that his role continued to increase rapidly. He brings positive energy daily and connects with players from various backgrounds. His demeanor really helps him keep his poise and use his football knowledge during a game or practice. We look forward to watching his future success in the coaching profession.”
Austin Cordova, Austin Peay Defensive Quality Control: “In my time working with Coach Chandler, he continuously brought positive energy and a willingness to learn and work. His drive and passion for the game is second to none, but his genuine care for the players and his coworkers is what will set him apart in the coaching profession.”
Andy Tabler, Ashland University Defensive Ends Coach: “Football develops young men of this country more than any other game because of the coaches who foster relationships with these young men and teach them how to play the game the right way. Owen Chandler is one of these young, up and coming coaches. Owen is an eager student of the game but also a great role model for his players. I had the privilege to coach Owen and present him with the Ashland High School George Valentine Sportsmanship Award in recognition of his character. He will be a great asset to the coaching staff at Valparaiso.”
What They’re Saying About Trevor McConnell
Dean Paul, Ohio Northern Head Coach: “Starting during the recruiting process, Trevor had an uncommon presence about him. He possessed exceptional communication skills and a confident but not arrogant way about him. As a player in our program, he earned the players’ trust with his work ethic, football IQ and ability to connect. His unselfish attitude and vision for greatness allowed him to lead and hold teammates accountable. He was very involved in the recruiting process as a player, hosting prospective students and their families, and even evaluating video. I’m confident he will make a positive impact at Valparaiso.”
Aaron Krepps, Washington & Jefferson Assistant Head Coach / Offensive Coordinator: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching Trevor at Ohio Northern University. He was extremely coachable and really worked hard on mastering the techniques being taught. He was a smart QB; it was like having another coach on the field. I expect him to be very successful in the coaching profession.”
Devin Russell, Davenport University Offensive Coordinator: “I am excited to watch as Trevor begins his coaching journey. Trevor did a great job in our time together at Ohio Northern and has all the characteristics to make a great coach. Trevor has the ability to learn quickly and a football knowledge that is beyond his years. I am looking forward to watching the impact he has on Valpo football moving forward.”
Jim Cordle, Ohio Northern Offensive Coordinator: “I am excited for Trevor as he starts his coaching career. Trevor has a high football IQ, but more importantly a passion to teach the game. He has been preparing for this opportunity during his playing career. He gained valuable experience in multiple roles in the last year. He will be a great asset to the staff at Valparaiso.”