NEWBERRY — Newberry head football coach Todd Knight announced a promotion and two hirings for the Newberry College football team.
Knight announced on Friday the promotion of Bennett Swygert to offensive coordinator. Swygert has served as the Wolves’ running backs coach for the last two seasons and replaces Zach Ellis, who left to pursue a career in the private sector.
In his time at Newberry, Swygert has coached John Gadson to a first team all-South Atlantic Conference performance in 2011. The Wolves finished fifth in the South Atlantic Conference in rushing yardage in each of his seasons.
Prior to coming to Newberry, Swygert was the quarterbacks coach at Fort Dorchester High School for three seasons. His team was the conference co-champion in 2010 and he coached a Rivals Top 100 quarterback that season. He also coached a North/South All-Star quarterback in the 2008 season.
In his playing career, Swygert was the starting quarterback at Western Carolina in 2004 and 2006. He was on the Summerville High School state championship team in 1998 and was an all-state, All-American and Shrine Bowl quarterback in 2000.
Swygert is the son of 2012 Newberry College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee and current defensive volunteer assistant Dennis Swygert.
Knight also announced the hiring of Newberry alumni Hunter Spivey and Drew Watson as assistant coaches. Spivey will coach the running backs and Watson will coach the defensive backs.
Spivey comes back to Newberry after serving as the head coach at Gray Military Academy in Columbia the last two seasons. He led the War Eagles to a combined record of 13-7 in his two years there.
Prior to his time at GMA, Spivey spent eight seasons on the staff at Coastal Carolina. From 2004-2007, Spivey worked with Jerome Simpson, who was a 2008 second-round draft choice of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and holds Coastal Carolina’s career receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions records.
Spivey entered the coaching profession with three seasons as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Newberry after a stellar playing career for the Indians. His first coaching stint at Newberry spanned the school’s first years returning to the South Atlantic Conference.
From 1993-96, Spivey completed 281-of-559 passes for 3,680 yards and 24 touchdowns. He is currently ranked either fifth or sixth in Newberry history in all four career passing categories. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Newberry in 1997 and was named the Indians’ most valuable player in his senior season.
In high school, Spivey was a standout at Conway High School in three sports, earning letters in football, baseball and basketball. He was named Sun News “Toast of the Coast,” as well as an All-Area and All-Region First Team quarterback. He was the team’s Most Valuable Player as a senior and holds numerous quarterback records at Conway.
Spivey was married in the summer of 2004 to the former Amy Zion, who also attended Newberry and was Indian Princess in 1994 and Miss Newberry College in 1997. The couple has two sons, Zion and Jagger.
Watson begins his second stint at Newberry after one season at Presbyterian College as defensive coordinator.
Prior to his time at Presbyterian, Watson was at Coastal Carolina for 10 seasons coaching the safeties. In 2010 he was responsible for coaching outside linebackers and has assisted with special teams during his time in Conway. From 2002-07 Watson served as Coastal’s recruiting coordinator and came in to help build the Chanticleer football program from its inaugural year in 2002.
During Watson’s stint, the Chanticleer defense ranked among the Big South’s best in pass defense. In 2009, the team ranked 15th nationally and was second in the league. The team led the Big South in 2008, 2007, 2006 and ranked second in 2005. Coastal Carolina ranked fourth in the nation in interceptions with 21 picks in 2009, after ranking first in 2006 with 19 in 2004 with 27.
Watson coached NFL safety Quinton Teal, who was a two-time second and third team All-American, as well as Academic All-American Marcus Lott. He also recruited current San Diego Charger Mike Tolbert, 2007 All-American Honorable Mention Marrio Norman and his brother, 2011 First Team All-American Josh Norman.
From 1990-2002 Watson was an assistant coach at Wofford. During his 12 season with the Terriers he split his time coaching the running backs and the offensive line. He also assisted with the special teams and was part of the staff that made the transition from NCAA Division II to Division I in 1995, as well as the move to the Southern Conference in 1997.
While Watson was at Wofford, the team led the nation in rushing offense and made the NCAA Division II Playoffs two separate occasions. In 1997 he coached All-American center Dan Williams.
Prior to Wofford, he served as the secondary coach at Newberry during the 1989 and 1990 seasons, and assisted with special teams.
Watson graduated Newberry College with a degree in business administration in 1989. He was a four-year letter-winner and three year starter at cornerback and earned Second Team NAIA All-American honors and First Team All-South Atlantic Conference honors as a senior, as well as the team’s Most Valuable Player award. As a junior, he was named Honorable Mention All-American.
A native of Anderson, Watson is married to the former Melanie Dillingham of Newberry and has three children — Cole, 18, a freshman at Newberry, Cate, 12, and Anna, 9.