KINGSTON, R.I. – Rhode Island football head coach Joe Trainer announced the hiring of cornerbacks coach Rod Chance and wide receivers coach Omar King, as well as the promotion of Matt Sutjak to assistant special teams coordinator.
Chance – who played for the Rams from 2001 through 2005 – returns to his alma mater after coaching the last four seasons at Alpharetta High School in Georgia. Chance was the special teams coordinator, and also coached the defensive backs and wide receivers.
He also served as the program's academic advisor and recruiting liaison. Earlier this year, 12 players from Alpharetta signed national letters of intent with Division I programs, with players going to Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Virginia, Vanderbilt and Texas Christian, among others.
"We could not be more excited about adding Rod to the coaching staff," Trainer said. "He has an infectious personality, and was a great player for this program. His knowledge of Rhode Island football will be a huge asset. He bleeds Keaney blue."
Chance was a four-year starter for Rhode Island who finished his career with more than 100 tackles and 11 interceptions.
"Having the chance to break into college coaching at Rhode Island is surreal for me," Chance said. "Very few people have that opportunity. I already have a personal investment in this program, and I think being familiar with the history, the facilities and people in the athletic department will help me transition. I'll be able to relate to the players, which is important for any new coach."
Chance will work closely with defensive backs coach Ryan Mattison. The Rams will return a lot of experience at cornerback, with with seniors Jamaal Bess, Mackenzie Elliott and Donovan Walker, junior Rodney Chance (no relation) and sophomore Tyrone Jenkins all back.
"There is a lot of experience at the position coming back, and you need that," Chance said. "The CAA Football Conference is the SEC of FCS, and cornerback is not for the feint of heart. The experience those players gained last year is invaluable. You need a swagger to play in this league, and our guys have it. I'm very excited about working with them."
King joins Rhode Island as its new wide receivers coach. He comes from Division II Long Island University-C.W. Post, where he had coached since 2007. At Post, King was the running backs coach and academic coordinator.
"Omar is a very highly regarded coach," Trainer said. "He has coached a number of years in the Northeast, and has a great reputation for his ability to teach the game. Omar will make our program stronger."
At Post, King helped implement a fast-paced, no-huddle offense. He coached the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's top-ranked rushing offense, and in 2009, he coached Thomas Beverly to Rookie of the Year honors and a spot on the All-Conference First-Team squad.
During his time at C.W. Post, the Pioneers went from the bottom of the conference in 2008 to co-champions in 2011.
"I've seen what it takes to build a strong program," King said. "When I came in for a visit, Coach Trainer and Coach (Roy) Istvan really made me feel welcomed. It was the people in place here that made me want to come to Rhode Island."
At Rhode Island, he'll work with a crew led by Robbie Jackson, who was fourth on the team with 18 catches for 245 yards last fall, despite essentially missing five games with an injury. The team also added Rutgers transfer Jawaun Wynn.
"I am watching a lot of films on the young guys, and I know about Robbie Jackson and Jawaun Wynn," King said. "There is good talent to work with, and we'll be able to different things with the group we have."
While at Hofstra, King played for longtime head coach Joe Gardi. The coaching staff then also included current Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood and quarterbacks coach Rob Spence.
Sutjak, who joined the coaching staff in the spring of 2012, spent last season as the tight ends/fullbacks coach. He continue in that role while also assuming the role assistant special teams coordinator. In his new role, he'll work with special teams coordinator Eddie Allen.
"Matt is heading into his second year with the program, and he is a bright, young football coach," Trainer said. "He will continue to develop as a coach through working with Coach Allen, and we will be better off for it."