CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern head football coach Mark Tucker named Zane Vance the Bucs' assistant head coach and defensive coordinator on Wednesday. Vance will also coach CSU's inside linebackers.
Vance comes to CSU after spending the last four seasons as the assistant head coach at New Mexico State. During his tenure with the Aggies, Vance served as the special teams coordinator and the defensive coordinator, as well as working with the defensive ends and linebackers.
"Zane and I established a great relationship as teammates and friends in college, and we've stayed connected throughout the years," Tucker said. "We've talked about this opportunity to do this and I wanted to make sure it could work while still keeping the best interests of our young men and program at heart. He's a fantastic teacher, mentor, and recruiter, and he will do things the right way here at CSU."
Vance takes over a defensive unit that has been the foundation of CSU's recent success as the Bucs have ridden the 'Blue Swarm' to a pair of Big South titles and FCS Playoff appearances over the last four years.
CSU finished seventh nationally in total defense in 2016 and boasted five all-conference selections and three All-Americans, including 2016 Big South Defensive Player of the Year, Anthony Ellis.
Tucker believes Vance will continue to keep the 'Blue Swarm' mentality.
"The coaching styles are similar, even if the structures are not," Tucker said of Vance's defensive philosophy. "Much of defensive alignment and effect it plays on the defense is based on what the offense shows. The adjustments we'll make on the field are similar to what we've done in the past. We wanted to make sure we got outstanding teachers and mentors, and I know that we have one in Zane Vance."
Vance, for his part, is ready to make an impact at CSU and welcomes the opportunity to join a friend in the business.
"We've always talked about working together," Vance said. "Coach (Tucker) is a tremendous option coach, and the buy-in factor to be successful on both sides of the ball is incredible. The coaching staff that was here was phenomenal. It will be a challenge to duplicate what they did, but we're going to focus on bringing pressure and moving around a great deal. It's a players game at the end of it and we will be successful when the players are attacking the ball and making a difference on the field."
Under Vance's leadership in 2015, the Aggies amassed 914 tackles with 56 tackles for loss. NM State also recorded 15 sacks, which tripled the team's five sacks from 2014. Additionally, the team grabbed 12 interceptions and forced nine fumbles. Under Vance's guidance, Jaden Wright was selected as the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Georgia State on Sept. 12. Wright led the Aggies with 12 tackles, a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown and an interception.
In 2014, Vance coached Rodney Butler to a career-high and team-best 119 tackles. Butler earned third-team honors on Phil Steele's All-Sun Belt Conference squad.
Vance coached the inside linebackers in 2013 and assisted Martin with the kickoff return and kickoff coverage teams. Under his guidance, inside linebacker Trashaun Nixon was named to the All-Independence Team in 2013. Nixon was second with 93 tackles and had a team-leading 13 tackles for loss and three sacks. As a group, the inside linebackers recorded 225 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss and five sacks. Vance also helped Bryan Bonilla rank third on the team with 75 tackles. As a unit, the inside linebackers recorded 96 tackles in 2013.
Vance was the head coach at The Master's Academy in Oviedo, Fla., in 2012, leading the team to a 9-3 record and the Sunshine State Athletic Conference championship. In 2011, he was an assistant coach at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in Stow, Ohio, coaching the linebackers and serving as special teams coordinator.
Vance spent seven seasons with the Golden Flashes of Kent State after joining the coaching staff as the inside linebackers coach prior to the 2004 season. Vance also served as Kent State's recruiting coordinator for two seasons, while handling special teams coordinator duties and working with the tight ends. Vance worked with current NM State head coach Doug Martin at Kent State.
Vance's 2009 signing class was rated 62nd in the country by Rivals.com — which was the top ranking in the Mid-American Conference and the highest in the history of the program.
In his role as linebackers coach, he mentored Derek Burrell to a pair of All-MAC honors after he posted 112 and 119 tackles in back-to-back seasons. Vance came to Kent State following eight years as the special teams coordinator, linebackers and fullbacks coach with the Dobyns-Bennett H.S. football team in Kingsport, Tenn. During his tenure at Dobyns-Bennett from 1996-03, the team captured the Big East Conference title in seven of eight seasons.
Prior to his position at Dobyns-Bennett, Vance served as head coach of the Unicoi County H.S. football team in Erwin, Tenn. from 1993-95, where he led his team to the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years.
Vance began his coaching career at his alma mater, East Tennessee State University. There, he served as the defensive line coach from 1987-91, where he was able to coach two future NFL players.
Vance was a letter-winner at ETSU in 1984 and a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1986. He continued his education at Austin Peay State University where he earned a master's degree in health and physical education.
He and his wife Debbie have five sons, Nate, Taylor, Isaac, Seth and Luke.