SAN ANTONIO — UTSA head football coach Jeff Traylor on Wednesday announced that he has named Zach Brown, a four-year veteran of the Roadrunners staff, as the program’s special teams coordinator and nickels coach.
Brown has moved into his new role after a two-year stint as UTSA’s Director of Player Personnel. Prior to that, he was a defensive analyst for two seasons which included serving as Senior Analyst and Director of Defensive Recruiting in 2021. He has primarily worked with the nickel/“money” backer position during his time in San Antonio.
During Brown’s time on the UTSA staff, the Roadrunners have enjoyed the most successful four-year run in program history with a 39-14 overall record, 27-4 regular season league mark, two conference championships and four straight bowl appearances.
Brown joined the UTSA program prior to the 2020 season. He was a defensive analyst before being promoted to interim linebackers coach that November. The Roadrunners won seven games, finished second in the Conference USA West Division and made the program’s first bowl appearance since 2016. The defense led the conference in sacks (25), tackles for loss (85), interceptions (11), takeaways (19) and turnover margin (+7). In fact, the Roadrunners ranked in the top 30 nationally in five categories — 19th in turnovers gained, 23rd in passes intercepted, 25th in fumbles recovered (8), 26th in turnover margin and 29th in tackles for loss per game (7.1).
In 2021, Brown helped UTSA post a 12-2 record, earn a national ranking as high as No. 15, capture the Conference USA crown and make a second straight and third overall bowl game. The defense recorded the first two shutouts in school history with a 54-0 rout of Lamar and a 45-0 blanking of Rice. The Roadrunners ranked 14th in the country in rushing defense (114.7 ypg) and fourth nationally with 14 fumble recoveries, and they set school standards for sacks (33) and sacks per game (2.4).
Brown was integral in the emergence of Clarence Hicks as one the league’s top defenders in 2021, as the honorable mention All-American set a then-school record with 10.5 sacks and registered 16.5 tackles for loss, 37 total tackles, six quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, one interception and a forced fumble en route to first-team all-conference accolades.
The 2022 campaign saw the Roadrunners finish with an 11-3 record, earn a national ranking as high as No. 22, capture a second straight league title and make a third consecutive bowl trip. UTSA ranked 25th nationally with 22 takeaways and finished in the top three in the league in several categories, including sacks (6.6 per game), interceptions (15) and red zone defense (.812). Dadrian Taylor picked up honorable mention all-conference recognition after posting 36 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, six pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, one forced fumble and a 73-yard interception return, giving him the program record with three pick sixes.
In 2023, Brown helped guide UTSA to a 9-4 record, including a 7-1 mark in its debut season in the American Athletic Conference. The Roadrunners capped the year with the program’s first bowl win, a 35-17 victory over Marshall in the Frisco Bowl. The defense broke program single-season records with 46 sacks, 99 tackles for loss and 56 quarterback hurries, finishing the year ranked second nationally with 3.54 sacks per game and fifth in the FBS with 7.6 tackles for loss per contest. Individually, Donyai Taylor garnered second-team all-league accolades after recording 46 tackles, seven TFLs, two sacks, six QB hurries, two pass breakups, a 78-yard interception return and a 19-yard fumble return.
Prior to joining the Roadrunners, Brown spent three seasons at Ole Miss. He was a graduate assistant in 2017 before being promoted to Player Personnel Analyst for the defense for the 2018 and ’19 campaigns. The Rebels climbed from 113th in the FBS to 60th in points allowed per game during his tenure. He worked directly with five defensive backs who went on to the NFL including Javien Hamilton, Myles Hartsfield, A.J. Moore, C.J. Moore and Ken Webster.
Brown spent two years at St. Lawrence University, an NCAA Division III member of the Liberty League. He was a graduate assistant and defensive backs coach in 2015 before being elevated to the full-time defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator in 2016.
During his time in Canton, New York, the Saints won back-to-back Liberty League Championships. St. Lawrence ranked second nationally in scoring defense and 10th in total defense in 2016 after finishing the previous season sixth in the nation with 23 interceptions and 16th in pass defense (159.6 ypg). Leondre Simmon was named an All-American and first-team all-conference at cornerback, while James Holley-Grisham garnered first-team all-league honors both seasons and was named 2015 Liberty League Special Teams Player of the Year as a punt returner.
He spent the 2013 season at Columbia as a volunteer defensive intern before being promoted to quality control for that side of the ball in 2014. He worked with the outside linebackers and defensive backs during his time with the Lions.
Brown got his coaching start at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, New York, for one season before joining the staff at Skaneateles (N.Y.) High School for three years.
Brown earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Syracuse in 2012 and his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia in 2014.
He and his wife, Samantha, have a daughter, Ariya.