GAFFNEY, S.C. (Limestone SID) - Following a national search, the Limestone College Athletics Department introduced Tony Ierulli, formerly the defensive ends coach at Carson-Newman University, as the program's third head football coach during a press conference at the Stephenson Dining Hall & Conference Center on Friday, February 10.
Ierulli, who served as the head coach at NCAA Division III Maryville College (Tenn.) for nine seasons before joining the staff at Carson-Newman, will bring over 35 years of coaching experience at every level of college football to a young Limestone program that will be entering its fifth year of competition in 2018.
The 2002 American Football Coaches Association Division II Assistant Coach of the Year has also coached at the NAIA level in addition to stints with NCAA Division I FBS and FCS institutions.
"We are very happy to introduce Coach Ierulli as our new head football coach," said Limestone Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Cerino. "His knowledge and passion for the sport, along with his extensive experience as a head coach, will continue to move our program in the right direction."
Ierulli spent five seasons on the staff of legendary Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks before serving as the defensive ends coach under Mike Turner in 2017. During his six years in Jefferson City, Tenn., the Eagles combined for a 47-22 overall record and a pair of NCAA Division II playoff appearances.
He helped lead the Eagles to four straight runner-up finishes in the South Atlantic Conference standings with 27 total league wins. On the recruiting front, Ierulli recruited and signed All-American Damian Baker, the 2015 SAC Offensive Player of the Year, and Derek Evans, the 2015 Rimington Award winner.
"It is a great honor to be named the head football coach at Limestone," said Ierulli. "I want to thank Dr. Parker, Coach Cerino, and everyone involved in the search for allowing me to lead Saints football."
"I really appreciate the hard work and dedication of our players as they stayed motivated through their offseason workouts while Limestone was searching its next head coach," he continued. "I am also impressed with our current coaching staff and the outstanding job they did with the 2018 recruiting class."
In 2003, Ierulli returned to his alma mater at Maryville as the head football coach and promptly helped turn around a program that went 0-10 the year before. He led the team to 15 wins over the next four seasons before guiding the Scots to a 7-3 mark in 2007 - the team's best record in nearly a decade.
Maryville posted 39 wins during his tenure, the third highest mark for a coach in the team's 122-year history, while Colby Townsend and Kyle Chewning earned All-America recognition under his mentorship. A total of 77 student-athletes were selected for All-Conference honors over those nine seasons, while 74 players were named to the USA South Academic All-Conference Team.
In addition to his head coaching responsibilities on and off the field, Ierulli served on the NCAA Football Rules Committee and the AFCA Summer Manual Committee during his time at Maryville. He was also involved in organizing alumni fundraising campaigns and community service projects.
Prior to his time in Tennessee, Ierulli served as the defensive coordinator at Shippensburg University (Pa.) where he was named the 2002 AFCA DII Assistant Coach of the Year. His defenses consistently ranked among the best in the nation during his stint with the Raiders, leading to a combined 43 wins over seven years.
After serving on Terry Bowden's staff at Salem College (W.Va.) from 1983-85, he reunited with Bowden at Samford University where he split time as both the recruiting coordinator and defensive coordinator. Ierulli also worked alongside current Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher as the Bulldogs qualified for the FCS playoffs in 1991 and 1992.
Ierulli got his start in coaching as an graduate assistant at Bowling Green State University in 1980 before serving as an assistant defensive line coach at the University of Missouri for two years. He joined Bowden's staff at Salem in 1983 and then took over as the defensive coordinator at Division III Susquehanna University (Pa.) for two seasons.
During his distinguished career in the coaching ranks, Ierulli has been a strong proponent of community service. He and his wife, Carol, have established a mentoring and tutoring program at local elementary schools during each of his coaching stops, and his teams have been involved with Habitat for Humanity, the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA, and many others.
In 2014, he helped create the Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament in Maryville, Tenn. to help raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. The WWP serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury during military service and their families.
"Our goal at Limestone will be to win championships, and the work ethic by our players and coaches will always be working towards that goal," Ierulli said. "We will establish a standard at Limestone which will guide us through all phases of our program, including our academic success, community service, and the hard work that it will take for our players and coaches to achieve success on the football field."
"Most importantly, our players and coaches will grow in our faith in Jesus Christ who has given me and our staff the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of our players," he concluded. "It is not enough that our players earn a degree and play football, but spiritual and character development during their time as student-athletes will be a big part of their college experience at Limestone."
Ierulli graduated with a bachelor's degree in Education from Maryville in 1980 and with a master's in Athletic Administration from Salem in 1985. He and Carol have three children, Anthony (wife, Tracey), Katie (husband, Joe), and Kelli (husband, Nathan), and seven grandchildren, Ruby, Adley, Vincent, Lillian, Nicolas, Anthony, and Ava.
What Others are Saying about Coach Ierulli
"You will not find another person as loyal and passionate in helping to shape the lives of young men as you will in Tony Ierulli. His love for the game, and the student-athletes who play it, along with his commitment to produce a winning program both on and off the field, will have lasting effects on the Limestone football program for many years to come."
Joe Girardi - 2006 National League Manager of the Year with the Florida Marlins and 2009 World Series Champion with the New York Yankees, cousin of Coach Ierulli
"I've known Tony for a long time, we actually umpired together several years back when he was at Samford and I was at Alabama. He has great experience, knowledge, work ethic, and passion for the game, and I believe that will help him quickly get up and running at Limestone. I'm very excited to see him get this opportunity to be a head coach again!"
Dabo Swinney - Clemson University Head Football Coach, 2016 CFP National Champions
"Tony has been a good friend to us at Carson-Newman! We're excited for him to get this opportunity and what the future holds. At the same time, it's bittersweet because he is a tremendous friend to us and our program and we're sad to see him go."
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