A veteran of 25 years in collegiate coaching, Les Herrin is completing his first year as the defensive line coach at Middle Tennessee. Herrin had been out of coaching the previous two seasons before joining Rick Stockstill's staff.
In 2006, Herrin inherited a defensive front that lost three starters who spent time in NFL training camps and it appeared the unit would be a work in progress. As it turned out, Herrin proved to be the perfect fit for a young group of linemen eager to be coached. Herrin developed a group that recorded 20 of the team's school record 33 sacks and 50 tackles for loss in helping form the top rushing defense in the Sun Belt. The top five players along the defensive line all had career years in 2006, including a school record 9.5 sacks by Erik Walden, a team-best four forced fumbles by Sean Mosley, and personal-bests in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks by Tavares Jones. Walden and Jones both earned first team all-conference honors.
Once referred to as the "dean of football coaches at Clemson," Herrin spent 14 seasons on the Tigers' staff, and coached defenses for Danny Ford, Ken Hatfield, and Tommy West. He was linebackers coach on Clemson's 1981 national championship team.
Prior to joining Stockstill's staff, Herrin was the defensive coordinator at The Citadel from 2001 to 2003. During Herrin's tenure at The Citadel, he saw vast improvement on the defensive side of the football and coached three All-Southern Conference performers in three seasons. Herrin was also instrumental in the play of two-time All-American linebacker and Buck Buchanan Award Finalist Travis Stephens. Herrin teamed with Head Coach Ellis Johnson to form two of the best defensive minds in the Southern Conference.
Herrin's leadership ability was evident at a young age when he was named captain of the football team in his playing days at Western Carolina. He was also the team MVP as a senior and defensive MVP as a junior. Herrin earned his B.S. degree in education from Western Carolina in 1971 and his master's degree in health and physical education the following year.
After serving as defensive coordinator at Appalachian State in 1980, Herrin joined the Clemson staff in 1981 and guided the inside linebackers. At Clemson, he coached ACC MVP Jeff Davis, later a Tampa Bay Buccaneers captain, and eventual 1989 all-pro linebacker Johnny Rembert of the New England Patriots.
Herrin, who was inducted into the Ware County Hall of Fame in 1998, had brief stints as defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach at East Carolina (1985-87) working for Art Baker, a former Citadel head coach. He also spent one season (1988) with Mack Brown as outside linebackers coach at the University of North Carolina before returning to Clemson as defensive line coach, where he continued to produce nationally renowned defenses. In 1989, Clemson ranked fifth in the nation in rushing, scoring, and total defense. In 1990, the Tigers led the nation in total defense and were second in rushing and scoring defense.
In 1991, Herrin's defensive group led the nation in rushing defense and was instrumental in the Tigers' ACC championship. His players included the likes of Chester McGlockton, Brenston Buckner, and Rob Bodine, all of whom were either All-Americans or All-Pros (or both). In 1996, he coached Trevor Pryce, who later won a Super Bowl ring with the Denver Broncos. As a coach, Herrin participated in the 1982 Orange Bowl, 1989 Gator Bowl, 1991 Hall of Fame Bowl, 1992 Citrus Bowl, 1993 Peach Bowl, 1996 Gator Bowl, and the 1997 and 1998 Peach Bowls. Overall, Herrin has coached 12 players who went on to enjoy professional careers including three who earned Pro Bowl honors.
He began his high school coaching career, which spanned eight seasons, as an assistant at R/S Central High in Rutherfordton, NC (1972-74). He then became an assistant at Lexington Senior High in Lexington, NC (1975-76) and athletic director and head coach at Central Davidson High in Lexington, NC (1977-79), where his teams went 29-6.
Born February 18, 1948, in Waycross, Ga., Herrin has a son, Deke, who is also a member of the staff.