ESU football welcomes former player to join coaching staff

Courtesy: Emporia State Athletics

EMPORIA, Kan. – Former Hornet wide receiver Austin Willis has been promoted to strength and conditioning coach for Emporia State and will serve as running backs coach for the nationally ranked Hornet football team.

“I appreciate the chance to be back in Emporia and am ready to give back to the Hornet Athletic Department,” “Willis said. “I want to thank coach Higgins for the opportunity to come back to my alma mater. I’m excited to get going with our summer program.”

Willis had 127 receptions for 2,002 yards and 18 touchdowns in four seasons at Emporia State. He earned second-team All-MIAA honors each of his final two seasons with the Hornets, hauling in 101 passes for 1,668 yards and 16 touchdowns in that time. He was also an Academic All-District performer for the Hornets and was named the Emporia State Male Student-Athlete of the Year following the 2014-15 school year. Following his playing days at Emporia State, Willis played in preseason games with the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills in 2015. He signed with the Detroit Lions following the 2015 season.

“The thing that made Austin a great player for us, and is going to make him a great coach, is his work ethic,” said Emporia State head coach Garin Higgins. “It’s unbelievable how hard he works at everything he does. It’s why he was able to go from being a walk on at Emporia State to the NFL and I’m looking forward to that carrying over to our players.”

As a certified Sports Performance Coach by USA Weightlifting, Willis will oversee the weight room at Emporia State and be in charge of the strength and conditioning program for the Hornet football team as well as assisting with the other 14 sports with their strength and conditioning as needed. On the field he will coach the running backs for the Hornets.

Higgins has also announced the addition of James Floyd to a graduate assistant position with the Hornets. Floyd will coach the tight ends after playing offensive line at Northern Colorado in 2015 and 2016. He began his playing career at the University of Tulsa from 2012-14.

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