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NAU football coaching staff taking shape

January 24, 2019

The Northern Arizona football coaching staff has started to fill out over the past week, with coaches announcing their new positions via their Twitter accounts.

Five coaches have announced their respective coaching duties on Chris Ball’s staff, including Aaron Price, Junior Taylor, Bob Connelly, Everrette Thompson and Junior Tanuvasa.

Price, who the El-Paso Times first reported was leaving his former job as a high school coach in the area, is the son of former college football coach Mike Price. Price played for his father at Washington State in the early 1990s as the Cougars kicker, and later coached with Ball and Mike at Washington State from 2001 to 2002.

Price joins Northern Arizona as the new special teams coordinator, replacing Bruce Read. The last time he coached special teams was as a kickers coach at Missouri Western State in 1998, when he was coaching on the same staff as Ball and new Northern Arizona defensive coordinator Jerry Partridge.

A former Mesa High School standout, Taylor will join the Northern Arizona football coaching staff as the wide receivers coach, Robin Pflugrad’s former position. It is unclear what Pflugrad’s new role will be, but sources have confirmed that he will remain on staff along with his son, Lumberjacks offensive coordinator Aaron Pflugrad, and tight ends and running backs coach Jimmy Beal.

Taylor most recently coached wide receivers at Wagner College following his time as Mesa High School’s offensive coordinator.

Connelly will be the Lumberjacks new offensive line coach, replacing Tim Davis, and has a long coaching resume, with USC being one of his most notable stops. He also coached at Arizona State with Ball and at Washington State with both Ball and Mike Price. Connelly followed Mike to Alabama along with Ball and stayed on the Crimson Tide staff after Mike was fired for a strip-club episode in 2003 in which he was reportedly intoxicated.

Aaron Price was also on that Alabama staff, but left with his brother Eric once Mike was dismissed following the incident.

Thompson takes over the defensive line coaching duties for Travis Baker and was most recently a quality control specialist for Northern Arizona football. He previously worked at Phoenix College in 2016 with Lumberjacks assistant Robin Pflugrad and was on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad from 2012 to 2014 following his playing career at Washington.

Taking over in a new position coach role is Tanuvasa, formerly Dixie State’s linebackers coach. He will coach outside linebackers for the Lumberjacks. Previously, former defensive coordinator Andy Thompson coached both outside and inside linebackers as the head of the defense, but according to Tanuvasa’s Twitter account he will focus on outside LBs.

The position wasn’t used often in Northern Arizona’s defense in recent years as the Lumberjacks have played two linebackers on the inside with pass-rushing ends in most defensive packages.

There has yet to be a formal announcement from the school and no clear candidates to replace former cornerbacks coach Jalil Brown and former safeties coach Cody VonAppen have emerged.

Northern Arizona is set to announce its 2019 recruiting class on National Signing Day, Wednesday, Feb. 6, at Twin Arrows Casino.

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