Just three days after Larry Coker's resignation the UTSA head coaching search is humming at full pace.
Due to the unfortunate timing of the job opening, UTSA has to move quickly and aggressively in the hopes of filling its recruiting class before National Signing Day on February 3rd. The UTSA administration has wasted no time in diving into the pool of interested candidates, with over 80 coaches having reportedly inquired about the job opening as of midday Thursday.
One candidate that has drawn interest from the UTSA athletics department is TCU running backs coach Curtis Luper.
We first introduced Luper as a potential candidate this Tuesday and have since learned there is strong mutual interest between Luper and UTSA.
Luper's background is very unique. After graduating from Sherman High in Sherman, TX (a small town northeast of Dallas), Luper went on to play for former UTSA head coach Larry Coker at Oklahoma State. Luper struggled to find playing time behind a couple of guys named Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders so he elected to end his playing career short and enlist in the Army as an air traffic controller.
While serving his country in the Army, Luper reached an epiphany on a November morning jog. Luper knew that the game of football hadn't left him behind, he just needed the right opportunity.
With one year of his NCAA eligibility still in tact, Luper enrolled at Stephen F. Austin where he would go on to rush for 1,054 yards at 26 years old. Luper spent two more years at SFA as a graduate assistant where he would add a master's degree to his bachelor's degree in communications.
After graduating from SFA, Luper spent a year at McKinney High School before heading to Texas A&M Commerce to coach the Lions' secondary. Luper's career would elevate at a rapid pace from that point on. In 2002 Luper left to join Rocky Long's staff at New Mexico before heading to Stillwater to coach running backs for Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State.
In 2009 Luper would get his first taste of SEC football after being hired as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator by Gene Chizik. Luper coached former Houston Texan Ben Tate to an incredibly successful senior season in which he was named a Doak Walker Award semifinalist. The following year Luper would pick up a national championship ring and a top ten recruiting class. In 2011 Luper coached explosive freshman Michael Dyer to a record breaking season in which Dyer was named a second-team Freshman All-American.
Luper left Auburn for TCU in 2013 where he would serve as wide receivers coach until moving to running backs in 2015. TCU's offense has improved tremendously during Luper's tenure, with San Antonio product Aaron Green becoming TCU's first 1,000 yard rusher since 2010. All three of Luper's running backs rushed for over four yards per carry on the season as the Horned Frogs ranked seventh in the nation in points per game.
With such an impressive resume, it's easy to see why UTSA is interested in Luper despite not having any experience as a head coach or coordinator. Luper has been around winning programs throughout his entire career and has found his own success at each stop. He's a player's coach that can connect with both student athletes as well as recruits. His deep industry connections will help him to build out a strong staff while the respect he has earned through years of recruiting Texas will get UTSA coaches into the living rooms of top Texas recruits.
It may be a stretch, but Luper's military background could be a huge selling point in San Antonio and could even help UTSA athletics restore goodwill in what is allegedly a rocky relationship with San Antonio corporate giant USAA, a credit union that serves military families.
Luper will be attending the American Football Coaches Association Convention in San Antonio this week where I'm confident Luper will be interviewed by UTSA, although that is admittedly speculation on my part. We will let you know if that interview does take place next week. In the mean time, stay tuned for more breaking news as it becomes available.