Wright resigns for job at Southern Miss

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, February 18, 2016

By Kevin Maloney

SENATOBIA — Two months after leading the Rangers to an 11-1 record and their third NJCAA National Championship in program history, head football coach Jack Wright has resigned his position at Northwest Mississippi Community College to accept a position as the offensive line coach at the University of Southern Mississippi.

“I’m happy for Jack and his family to have this opportunity,” athletic director Bubba Skelton said. “We are thankful for his seven years of service to Northwest and wish him the best at USM.”

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Wright inherited a 1-8 team on three years probation in 2013 and quickly put the Rangers back on the map. Down a total of 10 scholarship players to the rest of the MACJC, Wright and his staff put together one of the most memorable seasons in 2015 and defeated six ranked teams along the way. Northwest finished in the top 10 in the nation in 23 different statistical categories on its way to the title.

Wright was 15-7 overall (.682) and 9-3 in north division play, making the playoffs in each of his two seasons. In addition to the national title, he led the Rangers to their first conference championship since 1999 last season and a second bowl victory in four seasons.

Wright spent the 2013 season as the offensive line coach at Holmes, but prior to that stint, the Batesville native was the Rangers’ offensive coordinator from 2008-12. While serving on Ricky Woods’ staff, Wright guided one of the most prolific offenses in the nation during the five-year stretch. Northwest ranked in the top five in the country in total offense at 434.1 ypg in 2012 (3rd in the NJCAA) and 485.4 ypg in 2011 (5th).

Northwest wasted no time replacing Wright, promoting from within less than 48 hours after his resignation.

Benjy Parker, the Rangers’ defensive coordinator the past two seasons, informed the team during a meeting on Wednesday that he has agreed to become Northwest’s next head coach.

“I want to thank Dr. Spears and the administration at Northwest for giving me the opportunity to be its next head football coach,” Parker said. “Northwest is a great environment to work in with great people. Me and my family have enjoyed our two years here and we’re excited to stay Rangers. I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity and am looking forward to getting to work.”

New experience
Parker, like his predecessor, will be a first-time head coach. His experience at the Division I level at Troy University and previous playing and coaching experience around the MACJC made Parker a very strong candidate to replace Wright.

“We’re really excited to have Benjy as our next head football coach,” Skelton said. “We feel like he was instrumental in the team’s success last year during our national championship run. It was a big goal of ours to keep our staff in tact after Jack’s resignation. The cohesiveness of our staff and returning players will hopefully help us continue our success moving forward.”

Prior to Northwest, the Bruce native spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at Troy University, one with the defensive secondary and seven coaching linebackers. Parker is well-known in the Mississippi Junior College ranks and proved to be beneficial in recruiting that area for the Trojans.

Troy won five consecutive Sun Belt Championships and posted five consecutive 8-win seasons from 2006-10.