SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah State University has officially named it’s new head football coach, leading the program to a new era as they move back into FCS and Division-II.
Thursday, Savannah State removed the interim tag from Shawn Quinn - naming him the 26th Tigers Head Coach in program history.
Quinn was initially hired in February 2018 as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach - a defense that finished first in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in pass defense (138.5 yards per game).
He has served as an assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach before at Tennessee Tech (2016-17), but this is his first go-around as the head man in charge.
His prior stops include The Citadel (2017) where he was a defensive analyst, Western Carolina University (2013-16), Charleston Southern University (2012), Georgia Southern University (2010-11), Northwestern State University (2009), Louisiana State University (2008), the University of Louisiana Lafayette (2002-07) and Tennessee (1999-02).
Quinn is a Chicago, IL native and was a four-year defensive line starter at Carson-Newman College. He was an All-South Atlantic Conference selection and a part of four conference championships. He has a master’s degree from Lincoln Memorial University.
The decision was made to make Quinn permanent Wednesday night.
“I wanted to do some air fist bumps with someone, I was excited and I called my daughters and one of them was awake, so she was pretty fired up. It’s been awesome, but we’ve got to go right back to work and this morning we had Blue Dawn with our guys out there early getting after it, so I’m just excited to get back to work and get where we’ve got to go, but we’re going to get there," Quinn told WTOC.
The players were happy with the school’s decision.
“He just brought so much energy to the practice, to the games, and to everything we did. You know, he’s a great guy and he’s someone who really cares about us and we can feel that. 6 a.m. in the morning, we’re working out. He’s loud, he’s energetic and you know, we feed off that," said Awni Alshafei, a Junior Center on the team.
“I want them to enjoy their time here. I know they’ve had a rough go of it at times, but the group of guys who have stuck with this thing are a pretty great group of guys. They’re pretty special to me. Obviously, being my first time as a head coach and they’ve bought in to it and they’ve made it a lot of fun. They were tremendous in recruiting and they’ve been awesome in the community. They’ve bought in to that and they had every reason not to, because I wasn’t the permanent head coach at the time," Coach Quinn said.
After a 2-8 season in 2018, Quinn knows he has to recruit the community as much as he does his players.
“There’s Bulldogs, there’s Yellow Jackets, there’s Eagles, but all of them can be Tigers. That’s what I’ve been telling everybody. We can be the team for this city,” Quinn said in his press conference.
The players have already bought in to Quinn’s vision.
“We want to get the fans involved, you know, we want to win back Savannah. Like Coach said, it’s just time to have fun at Savannah State," Alshafei added.
Students think that having a winning football team again would bring that fun back to Savannah State.
“It’s going to be more excitement. Then people will be more willing to show school pride, like ‘oh yeah, I go to Savannah State,’” freshman student Andrea Allen said.
Senior Cam Johnson agreed.
“That’ll be a big deal. That will bring more money to the school, people will come out and support the team and also just bring up more school spirit in general.”
With spring football coming in April, Quinn and his new brand of Tigers football will be on full display.
Part of Coach Quinn’s plans to win back the city includes community service with his team and the players have a message for the community.
“We really appreciate you guys supporting us and we really want to do good in our community and help out. We went to the hospital a couple of weeks ago. We’re going to schools, you know, if you guys need any community service activities- we’re strong guys. We lift. So whatever you guys need, you let us know and we’ll do our best to help out and hopefully bring you guys to our games,” Alshafei said.
One game to write on the calendar- homecoming! It was announced at the press conference the Tigers will renew their rivalry with Albany State on October 26, 2019.
Quinn added that some coaching changes with his staff can be expected in the coming days.