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App State Head Coach Eliah Drinkwitz Adds Dorsey and Retains Watts as Coaching Staff Members

By Tim Gardner

New Appalachian State head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz has added Ken Dorsey, a national championship-winning and former Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach, to his first Mountaineers coaching staff and is retaining offensive coach Justin Watts, who served on former coach Scott Satterfield’s staff.

Drinkwitz announced both Dorsey’s hire and Watts’ retention last week.

Dorsey has joined the Appalachian State staff after helping coach Florida International to a Bahamas Bowl berth this season. He will serve as an offensive assistant on Drinkwitz’s staff.

Championships have followed Dorsey from his days as a title-winning quarterback for the University of Miami Hurricanes through his career as an assistant coach in the National Football League (NFL).

As an assistant with the Panthers from 2013-17, Dorsey’s work with the quarterbacks helped the team win three National Football Conference (NFC) South Division titles and the 2015 NFC Championship.

Dorsey coached Cam Newton, who has become one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, highlighted by Newton’s 2015 Most Valuable Player campaign in which he led the NFL with 45 total touchdowns (35 passing, 10 rushing) and became the first player in league history to pass for 30 touchdowns and rush for 10 in a single season. Under Dorsey’s tutelage, Newton went on to set NFL records for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and most games with both a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Newton also became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 50 career scores.

As a player, Dorsey went 38-2 as the starting quarterback at the University of Miami, guiding teams to three straight Big East Conference Championships, the 2001 BCS National Championship and a runner-up finish for the 2002 BCS National Championship. Dorsey led the Hurricanes to a 3-1 bowl record with a Gator Bowl win over Georgia Tech, Sugar Bowl win over Florida, Rose Bowl win over Nebraska (BCS title game) and Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State (BCS title game). He was Co-Most Valuable Player of the Rose Bowl, in which he completed 22-of-35 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns). He also was Most Valuable Player of the Sugar Bowl after he completed 22-of-40 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns.

Dorsey was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in both 2001 and 2002, claiming the Maxwell Award as college football’s National Player of The Year in 2001. He was a three-time first-team All-Big East selection and three-time academic all-conference honoree.

Dorsey played six NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns from 2003-08, making 13 starts and completing 214-of-408 passes for 2,082 yards and eight touchdowns, and one year with Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Toronto Argonauts in 2010. With both the Browns and Argonauts, he assisted the offensive coaching staffs with game planning.

His first coaching experience came in the Florida high school ranks, as he served on offensive staffs at Lakewood Ranch, IMG Academy and Riverview from 2009-11. He was a pro scout for the Carolina Panthers from 2011-12.

Dorsey earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Miami in both marketing and business management. He and his wife, Jordan, have two daughters, Logan and Tyler.

Watts has been Appalachian State’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator the past four seasons.

He came to Appalachian State from Middle Tennessee State University, where he served as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for the past nine seasons (2006-14). During his time at Middle Tennessee State, he helped the Blue Raiders to four bowl berths, three eight-win seasons and a Sun Belt Conference championship (2006).

Ironically, Appalachian State routed Middle Tennessee State 45-13 in this year’s New Orleans Bowl, finishing with an 11-2 record.

Since 2009, Watts has coached a unit that’s become one of the most talent-laden positions at Appalachian State. In fact, six Mountaineers had more than 10 catches this season, five of which had 200 or more receiving yards.

Heading that effort was Corey Sutton who hauled in 10 touchdowns — the most since Brian Quick caught 11 in 2011 — to go along with 773 yards.

Graduate transfer Dominique Heath caught five touchdowns and Malik Williams added three (as well as two touchdown passes during the New Orleans Bowl).

Other than Heath, most of the receivers return for the Mountaineers in 2019, which should make that cast one of the finest in the college ranks. Sutton, Williams, Thomas Hennigan and Jalen Virgil all just completed their sophomore seasons.

Watts began his coaching career with two seasons as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Clemson (2001-02). During his stint there, he helped lead the Tigers to a pair of bowl berths.

He landed his first full-time coaching position at Appalachian State’s former Southern Conference rival, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he coached the Moccasins wide receivers for three seasons (2003-05).

Watts owns the distinction of being one of only two student-athletes to ever be a five-year football letterwinner at Clemson, a feat that he accomplished as a wide receiver from 1996-2000 (he received a medical redshirt after sustaining a season-ending injury during the 1997 campaign). He caught 51 passes for 561 yards during his career.

A Florence, SC native, Watts’ wife’s name is Lauren. They have a son, Chase, and a daughter, Kendall.

Drinkwitz has six assistant coaching positions remaining to fill.