Assistant Coach | Running Backs Coach | Special Teams Co-Coordinator
Kyle Cefalo enters his third season at Arkansas State in 2019, but his first as the running backs coach and co-special teams coordinator after spending the previous two years as the inside wide receivers coach.
A former graduate assistant coach at A-State who helped lead the program to a pair of Sun Belt Conference championships in 2013 and 2015, rejoined the program as an assistant coach in 2017. He helped guide the Red Wolves to a combined 15 wins, as well as back-to-back bowl game appearances the last two years.
Cefalo’s first season back at A-State saw the Red Wolves play Middle Tennessee in the Camellia Bowl to cap a seven-win season in which the A-State offense ranked fifth in the nation in passing offense (342.2 ypg), 10th in total offense (494.8 ypg) and 13th in scoring offense (37.8 ppg).
The 2018 A-State squad ranked 17th in the country in total offense (466.2 ypg) and 21st in passing yards (281.5 ypg) on its way to the Arizona Bowl, where it played Nevada. The inside wide receivers coached by Cefalo were a big part of A-State’s success that led to a school record for total offense average in 2017 and the program’s fourth most yards per game in 2018.
His 2017 unit was headlined by Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection Chris Murray, who led the team in both receptions (50) and receiving touchdowns (9). In fact, the senior’s receiving touchdown total not only ranked as the fourth most in school history for a single season, they tied the 25th most in the nation.
Cefalo also tutored Christian Booker, who turned in the best season of his career in 2017 with 25 receptions for 363 yards and six touchdowns. Booker and Murray combined for 15 of the team’s 38 receiving touchdowns that ranked as the fifth most in the nation.
Cefalo coached First Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection Kirk Merritt in 2018, the same season he was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year after recording 83 receptions for 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns. Merritt ended his first season with the Red Wolves with the third most receptions and receiving yards in school history, while also ranking 20th in the nation in receptions per game.
Cefalo returned to Arkansas State in 2017 to work on the offensive side of the ball after previously spending the 2016 season as a graduate assistant coach at Maryland, which doubled its win total over the previous season and made an appearance in the Quick Lane Bowl. During his six seasons as a member of the A-State (2013-15, 2017-18) and Maryland (2016) coaching staffs, Cefalo has been a part of 45 combined victories and coached in six bowl games.
Cefalo worked on the offensive side of the ball, primarily with quarterbacks and wide receivers, at both Maryland and Arkansas State from 2013-16. His three seasons as a graduate assistant coach at A-State saw the Red Wolves compile three of the top five marks at the time in school history for total offense, including a school-record 6,194 yards in 2014 during Anderson’s first season at the helm of the program.
Additionally, the Red Wolves produced a school and Sun Belt Conference-record 520 points in 2015 with Cefalo on the sidelines. His first year as a graduate assistant at A-State saw the squad pile up 379 points, the ninth most in program history, and the 477 points recorded by the squad in the 2014 stands as the second most.
Arkansas State compiled a 22-15 record during Cefalo’s first stint with the program and played in three consecutive bowl games, including the 2014 and 2015 GoDaddy Bowl and the 2015 New Orleans Bowl. The Red Wolves also collected 18 All-Sun Belt Conference selections on the offensive side of the ball during Cefalo’s initial three years with the program.
Cefalo spent the first six months of 2013 as a recruiting intern at Boise State before entering the coaching profession at A-State. Prior to Boise State, he enjoyed a successful playing career at the University of Colorado, where he walked on in 2009 before earning a scholarship in the fall of 2011. He originally signed to play baseball at Oregon State, but suffered a season-ending arm injury and transferred to Colorado to begin his collegiate football career.
Cefalo caught two touchdown passes during his senior season, including the go-ahead touchdown in a victory over Colorado State. He was awarded the Gold Group Commitment award in 2009, which is given out by the Colorado coaching staff and recognizes excellence with class in a variety of areas.
A native of Boston, Mass., Cefalo earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Colorado in the spring of 2012. He was named to the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll in 2012 as well.
Offensive Line Coach | Run Game Coordinator
Sean Coughlin enters his first season as the Red Wolves’ offensive line coach and run game coordinator in 2019.
With 18 years of collegiate coaching experience to his credit, Coughlin comes to Arkansas State after spending the last 13 seasons at Missouri State. He was elevated to associate head coach for the 2018 campaign and served as the Bears’ co-offensive coordinator since 2016.
“Sean has enjoyed great success as an offensive line coach, and he brings a wealth of experience working with the position to our staff,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. “He’s proven that he can develop talent to an elite level. His impact with players on the field and in the meeting rooms makes him a great addition to our program.”
Coughlin also oversaw the offensive line since 2008 after previously serving as tight ends and fullbacks coach his first two years with the program. During his tenure, Coughlin’s linemen earned Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) Offensive Lineman of the Week honors 14 times, with 13 all-conference selections and five NFL players.
In 2010, standout lineman David Arkin earned consensus All-America and second-team Academic All-America honors before being picked by Dallas in the 2011 NFL Draft. Former Bears Jake Duron and Riley Shantz also inked free agent contracts during Coughlin's tenure.
Coughlin also mentored Clay Harbor, a consensus All-American tight end and NFL Draft pick to the Eagles in 2010, as well as Randy Richards, an AP and AFCA All-America selection. Richards enjoyed NFL stints with the Chargers and Buccaneers before catching on in the CFL with Saskatchewan and Calgary.
The 2001 Drake University graduate was a standout offensive lineman from his playing days. A three-time All-Pioneer Conference offensive guard at Drake, he was a first-team all-conference choice from 1998-2000 and earned All-America honors from Football Gazette his final two seasons. He was team captain in 2000.
Coughlin coached three seasons at his alma mater, working the 2001 and 2002 seasons as assistant offensive line coach and tight ends coach for the Bulldogs while mentoring two all-conference first team linemen.
He joined the Iowa State offensive staff in 2004 and spent two seasons there while pursuing his master’s in higher education (2006).
The Kildeer, Ill., native earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Drake in 2001.
Offensive Coordinator | Quarterbacks Coach
Keith Heckendorf enters his first season as the Red Wolves’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2019.
He comes to A-State after spending the last eight seasons in multiple roles with the North Carolina football program, including the last five as quarterbacks coach. He also served as the Tar Heels’ passing coordinator the last three years and as the recruiting coordinator in 2014 and 2015.
The Mosinee, Wis., native also spent the 2011-13 seasons in a player development position at North Carolina. The last two years of that three-year period saw him work alongside Anderson, who was the Tar Heels’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the time.
“Working with Keith in the past, I’ve seen first-hand his tremendous talent as a coach and the outstanding football mind he possesses,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. “His coaching experience, knowledge of the game, ability to develop players and communication skills are all among his many assets that make him a fantastic offensive coordinator, and we’re excited to have him here in Jonesboro.”
His time at North Carolina saw the football program play in five bowl games and appear in the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship game, the same year the Tar Heels won 11 games for their best season in nearly two decades.
North Carolina won 19 combined games in 2015 and 2016, which were the most in Chapel Hill since the 1996 and 1997 seasons. The Tar Heels finish 15th in the county in the top 25 polls in 2015 when it led the nation in yards per play and ranked ninth in scoring offense with a school-record 40.7 points per game.
“Keith Heckendorf is one of the top young offensive coaches in our sport,” said Larry Fedora, a 2015 Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year finalist while he was the head coach at North Carolina. “He has earned a great reputation for developing quarterback talent and helped Mitch Trubisky emerge into an outstanding NFL prospect under his watch. He is also a talented play-caller who will be an asset for any program many years to come.”
North Carolina’s passing game was among the nation’s best under Heckendorf’s leadership, while the Tar Heels also set the school record for passing yards three of the last five seasons. During that time Heckendorf tutored some of the most successful quarterbacks in school history, including the 2017 NFL Draft’s No. 2 overall pick in Trubisky.
“Coach Heck is one of the best I’ve been around,” said Trubisky. “He is extremely detailed and a great teacher. His passion for the game and his players make him an awesome coach to play for. He pushed me to be a better player and helped prepare me for the next level. I’m thankful for my time with coach Heck and the relationship we built. He will be a great addition at Arkansas State.”
Prior to his tenure at North Carolina, Heckendorf spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Western Carolina. He also spent three seasons at Nebraska that included trips to the 2005 Alamo Bowl and 2007 Cotton Bowl.
Heckendorf had a standout career as a quarterback at St. Cloud State (Minn.) from 2000-03. He was a two-time finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is given annually to the top player in NCAA Division II football, finishing second and third in the voting. He was also a consensus American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America pick, and a two-time Academic All-America choice.
He was the Division II recipient of the prestigious National Football Foundation (NFF) Scholar-Athlete Award. He earned his bachelor’s degree in elective studies from St. Cloud State University in 2004, and he completed his master’s in education administration from the University of Nebraska in 2014.
Tight Ends Coach
Rashad Jackson enters his first season as the Red Wolves’ tight ends coach in 2019.
He comes to Arkansas State after most recently spending the 2018 season at Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College as the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator.
His lone season at the school saw the team average 410 yards total offense per game, which ranked 12th in the nation.
He also coached 11 total players, including seven on offense and four on special teams, who earned All‐Southwest Junior College Football Conference (SWJCFC) honors.
Prior to Trinity Valley, he spent the 2009‐17 seasons in a variety of roles on the East Central (Okla.) University, including the 2017 campaign as offensive coordinator. During his time with Tigers, he also coached quarterbacks (2009‐11), wide receivers (2012‐16) and wide receivers/tight ends (2017).
Jackson mentored 30 All‐Great American Conference (GAC) and five All‐Lone Star Conference players at East Central, including four who went on to either be an NFL draft pick or sign a free agent contract with a team in the league. He also coached two NCAA Division II All‐America choices and five (QBs Tyler Vanderzee, Rocky Moore, and Spencer Bond; WRs Caleb Holley and David Moore) who set school records.
While working at East Central, he also gained three years of experience in the NFL carrying out summer coaching internships with the Seattle Seahawks (2016), Detroit Lions (2015) and Denver Broncos (2013). He worked with the tight ends, special teams and running backs during those stops.
Jackson went to East Central from Kansas State, where he was the Director of Player Development in 2008. He went to Kansas State after working two seasons at Reedley (Calif.) College, serving as the running backs and tight ends coach in 2005 and the wide receivers coach in 2006 and 2007.
He helped lead the junior college program to the 2005 Valley Conference championship and Hawaiian Punch Bowl, as well as the 2006 State Center Bowl. He began his collegiate career as a coaching assistant at East Central from 2002‐05, working with tight ends and tackles.
“Coach Jackson brings diverse experience from the different levels he’s coached, as well as the positions,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. “He fits our recruiting footprint and has coordinated his own room in the past. He brings a lot of energy with him, and he is a great fit with Coach (Keith) Heckendorf on the offensive side of the ball.”
Jackson was an all‐conference tight end at East Central and played one season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science in 2002. He also earned his master’s degree in Sports Administration from East Central University in 2004.
Offensive Graduate Assistant
Nathan Elliott begins his first season in 2019 as a graduate assistant coach at Arkansas State, working on the offensive side of the ball.
Elliott comes to A-State after spending the last four years on the North Carolina roster at the quarterback position. He was three-year letterman with the Tar Heels before choosing to forgo his redshirt season to pursue the graduate assistant coaching position on the A-State staff.
His three seasons on the field at North Carolina saw him complete 284-of-480 passing attempts (59.1 percent) for 3,150 yards and 21 touchdowns. His most extensive playing time came last season (2018), when he started nine games and threw for 2,169 yards and 11 scores. The same season, he was a member of the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Watch List and earned one of the “Stars of the Week” honors from The Manning Award after going 22-of-31 for 313 yards and two touchdowns against Pitt.
The Celina, Texas, native was an all-state selection at Celina High School, where he finished his career with 8,821 passing yards, 110 touchdown passes, 1,872 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. He came out of Celina ranked as the No. 28-and-No. 33-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation by 247Sports.com and ESPN.com, respectively.
Offensive Graduate Assistant
Bill Queisert begins his first season in 2019 as a graduate assistant coach at Arkansas State, working on the offensive side of the ball.
Queisert comes to A-State after spending the 2018 season as the offensive line coach at NCAA Division III Simpson (Iowa) College, helping lead the Storm to a 7-3 record and a runner-up finish in American Rivers Conference. He helped lead Simpson to just the 20th, seven-win season in school history.
His lone season with the program saw him coach three all-conference selections at the offensive line position, including Carter Henken, Mathew Wingerson and Zachary Griswold.
Prior to Simpson, he made stops at Missouri State and William Jewell College. He also spent time as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at East Central University.
Queisert played collegiately at Division II William Jewell, where he was an offensive lineman and three-year team captain.
The Kansas City, Mo., native graduated from William Jewell in December of 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Sport Management. He went on to earn his master’s degree in Educational, School and Counseling Psychology in 2016.