Charlotte’s new head coach may be an unfamiliar name to most college football fans, but it won’t be that way for long. The 49ers have officially announced Will Healy as their next head coach.
The 33-year-old (as in, he’s 33 years old today) had never been a head coach when he was named the head coach at Austin Peay, an FCS school from the Ohio Valley Conference in Cookeville, Tenn., ahead of the 2016 season. The Governors’ program was the worst in Division I at the time, and went 0-11 in Healy’s first season. However, Austin Peay rocketed forward to 8-4 in 2017, going 7-1 in OVC play and narrowly missing the FCS playoffs.
It’s that program building expertise Charlotte is banking on as the 49ers look to build their young program. Healy has drawn comparisons to Dabo Swinney from…. me.
“We are thrilled that Will and his family will be joining Niner Nation,” said 49ers AD Mike HIll. “When we set out to hire a coach, our goal was to find someone who will energize and transform the 49ers into a championship program. Will is that man. Across the country he is recognized as one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the nation. His name came up time and again throughout our search as someone who is a relentless, proven recruiter who has seen remarkable success. On top of that, he places a high value on culture and developing student-athletes.”
Like the head coach it just hired, Charlotte is viewed as a program with potential. The 49ers play in a new, on-campus stadium and are located in one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the nation with hundreds of recruits within a 300-mile radius.
“In my first conversation with Mike Hill, I told him that I would walk to Charlotte to talk to him about this job,” said Healy. “This is a special place – a young football program with tremendous University leadership located in a first-class city. We can recruit and develop excellent student-athletes here and we can compete at a very high level. We’re thrilled to be part of this University and community. I can’t wait to get started.”
Healy takes over for Brad Lambert, who led the program since its inception in 2013. After going 1-11 in 2017, the 49ers rebounded to go 5-7 in 2018 and 4-4 in Conference USA, but it wasn’t enough to save Lambert’s job.
Charlotte originally pursued another FCS head coach in James Madison’s Mike Houston, but he opted for East Carolina instead.