Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Former Thomasville, Elon Standout Named Receivers Coach at ECU

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Keith Gaither has been named wide receivers coach at East Carolina according to an announcement from second-year head football coach Scottie Montgomery on Tuesday.

Gaither's acceptance of the position on the Pirates' staff follows a brief tenure as Temple's receivers coach and two-season stay at Army West Point. He brings 20 years of overall coaching experience to ECU, including six at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level and 12 in the state of North Carolina.

"Keith's background of success at all levels not only speaks highly of his coaching ability, but also his aptitude to understand, implement and value various offensive philosophies," Montgomery said. "His recruiting ties, especially across North Carolina, run deep and will impact our program significantly."

Before his Jan. 23, 2017 appointment to join the Owls' program, Gaither directed the Black Knights' receiving corps during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. His pass catchers stood fourth nationally in yards per reception with a 17.9 average last fall during Army's successful 8-5 campaign, which included a 21-17 win over Navy and a 38-31 overtime victory against North Texas in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl.

In his first year at West Point, Gaither coached Edgar Poe and DeAndre Bell to notable performances. Poe produced a trio of 100-yard receiving games and caught six touchdown passes, which was the most by a Black Knight since 2007, while Bell turned in career highs in receptions and yards as a senior.

Gaither was wide receivers coach at Ball State from 2011 to 2014 and helped guide the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl appearances following the 2012 (Beef 'O' Brady's) and 2013 ( seasons.

While on Pete Lembo's staff in Muncie, Gaither was responsible for a combined three All-Mid-American Conference first-team selections in 2012 and 2013, along with second-team and third-team All-MAC picks in 2014. One of his top pupils was Willie Snead, who set BSU single-season receiving records in yardage (1,516), catches (106) and touchdowns (15) in 2013.

Gaither also impacted his players off the field as Briggs Orsbon earned Capital One Academic All-America honors in 2011, while Connor Ryan was a Capitol One Academic All-District choice a year later. Orsbon completed his career as only the second receiver in Ball State history to record over 200 career catches.

During his two-year stint at Elon in 2009 and 2010, Gaither helped Terrell Hudgins establish 19 NCAA, Southern Conference and Phoenix records and to a runner-up finish in the voting for the 2009 Walter Payton Award, which formally recognizes the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Player-of-the-Year. Additionally, Gaither mentored All-America pass catcher and Baltimore Ravens draft pick Aaron Mellette while at Elon.

Gaither began his coaching career in 1997 as defensive backs coach at Greensboro (N.C.) College before moving to Tusculum (Tenn.) College for the 1998 and 1999 campaigns. Following a five-year run as an assistant at alma mater Thomasville (N.C.) High School, Gaither returned to the college ranks as Winston-Salem State's recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach from 2005 to 2008.

A four-year starter and two-time all-region performer as a member of the Phoenix secondary, Gaither earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from Elon in 1997.

Gaither is married (Holly) and has four children - Jonesha, Akeem, Madison and Hazel.