Brian Early hired at Houston
Monticello’s Brian Early, son of the late Alvy Early, was recently named defensive line coach at the University of Houston after five seasons in the same position at Arkansas State University.
In all five of Early’s seasons at A-State, the Red Wolves ranked among the top 41 teams in the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss, and he also tutored at least two all-conference selections on the defensive line each year. Arkansas State made five straight postseason appearances at the 2014 GoDaddy Bowl, 2015 New Orleans Bowl, 2016 Cure Bowl, 2017 Camellia Bowl and 2018 Arizona Bowl during his time. The Red Wolves also won back-to-back Sun Belt Conference titles in 2015 and 2016 with a combined 15-1 record.
Early’s lines have been a menace behind the line as Arkansas State had at least five tackles for loss in 39 of its last 42 games and has ranked in the top 25 nationally in each of the last three seasons in TFLs including 13th in 2018. In 2018, Arkansas State was also one of the toughest defenses in the air, finishing the season 11th nationally in passing defense, allowing only 177.8 passing yards per game.
Among the players Early in Jonesboro, defensive end Ronheen Bingham was named the 2018 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 18.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks, numbers that ranked 15th and 26th, respectively. Bingham was one of four defensive linemen to earn postseason honors from the conference; defensive end William Bradley-King and defensive tackle Forrest Merrill each earned second-team honors while defensive tackle Kevin Thurmon earned honorable mention honors.
He coached Ja’Von Rolland-Jones all four years of his career, tutoring the defensive end who was twice named the SBC Player of the Year, concluding his time at A-State as the NCAA’s second all-time leader in career sacks (43.5) and eighth in tackles for loss (64.5). Arkansas State’s and the Sun Belt’s all-time leader in sacks, Rolland-Jones signed a free-agent contract with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals following the 2017 season.
In 2017, Early’s defensive line helped A-State rank No. 6 in the nation in tackles for loss (8.3 per game) and No. 19 in sacks (2.92 average) and he was nominated for the Broyles Award. Those numbers came one year after the Red Wolves led the country in tackles for loss (9.6 per game) and ranked No. 6 in sacks (3.31 average) in 2016.
Including Rolland-Jones as a first-team selection, the Red Wolves had four defensive linemen named All-SBC after that 2017 season. Also earning the recognition were Bingham (second team), defensive end Caleb Caston (third team) and linebacker Dee Liner (honorable mention). Liner also signed a free-agent NFL contract, with the Kansas City Chiefs.
With previous coaching stops at the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Arkansas at Monticello and three Arkansas high schools, Early served as the University of Arkansas Defensive Quality Control Coach in 2013. His journey to Arkansas State also included a stop on the coaching staff at Minnesota State University at Mankato.