DEFENSIVE COACHING STAFF
DAVID REEVES | DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR
David Reeves was named UAB’s Defensive Coordinator in June of 2016. Prior to his appointment as the Defensive Coordinator, Reeves was the Blazers’ defensive line coach since 2014 and stayed with Coach Clark to help rebuild the program during its two-year hiatus.
With Reeves in charge, the 2017 Blazers’ defense jumped up to 5th in Conference USA in total defense and 41st overall nationally.
The team ended the season ranked 22nd in the country in passing yards allowed and 18th in team passing efficiency defense, both of which were good for 2nd in the conference. Due in large part to lockdown corner Darious Williams’ five interceptions and 15 passes broken up, UAB was 3rd in the conference in total interceptions with 14 on the season. Williams led C-USA in passes defended (20), pass breakups (15) and interceptions (5).
Williams was a First Team All-Conference USA selection, and Reeves also help fellow seniors Tevin Crews and Shaq Jones earn All-Conference USA accolades at linebacker.
Crews had a tremendous senior campaign, finishing with a career-high and team best 102 tackles and 12.0 tackles for loss. He was the only player in C-USA to rank in the top 10 in both categories. Jones also had a productive season finishing with 57 total tackles and a team-high 13 TFLs.
Williams’ lock down coverage, combined with constant pressure from guys like Crews and Jones helped UAB finish 4th in the conference as one of only four teams with a positive turnover margin.
The defense especially ramped up when it mattered most, as UAB finished the year ranked 36th in the country (6th in C-USA) in red zone defense and 46th (5th) in third down conversion defense.
Overall, Reeves helped UAB set the program record for FBS wins in a single season (8) C-USA wins (6) and a perfect 6-0 record at home for the first time in program history. The Blazers led C-USA in attendance and appeared in just their second bowl game in program history.
In Reeves first season at UAB, he was an integral part of the Blazers’ remarkable turnaround which saw them finish 6-6 after being 2-10 the year prior.
The Blazers improved 44 spots in total defense in 2014, spearheaded by the defensive line. Reeves’ unit helped UAB tally 34 sacks in his first season, which was 16 more than the year before. The Blazers also finished with 81 TFLs with Reeves, a +21 difference from the 2013 campaign.
At the conclusion of 2014, the UAB defense allowed 29.9 points against, which was an average of 14 points better from 2013 when UAB allowed 43.8 points against.
Leading the way for the defensive front was senior end Diaheem Watkins, who was named a First Team All-Conference USA selection for tallying a team-high 10 sacks. Additionally, Interior lineman Chris Walton earned C-USA Honorable Mention.
Reeves joined the Blazers in 2014 following a year-long stint at Jacksonville State where he also coached the defensive line under the direction of head coach Bill Clark.
In 2013 at JSU, Reeves’ unit ranked first in the Ohio Valley Conference in sacks (52) and third in the league in scoring defense (23.6 ppg). Under Reeves' guidance, two Gamecocks earned All-Ohio Valley Conference honors, including second team selection defensive lineman Caleb Lawrence. Jacksonville State defensive end Chris Landrum was named to the OVC Newcomer squad.
Reeves was the secondary coach at UT Martin in 2012, after coaching the previous five seasons at Southern Arkansas where he was the defensive coordinator his final two years. Reeves was a graduate assistant at the University of Alabama from 2005-06 and was the defensive coordinator at Athens (Ala.) High School from 2000-05.
He is a 1991 graduate of Athens State University.
Reeves and his wife Starr have two sons, Major and Rhett.
KYLE TATUM | DEFENSIVE LINE
In Kyle Tatum’s first year as the defensive line coach in 2017, he guided a unit that featured two All-Conference USA performers and a group which ranked in the top 50 nationally in tackles for loss.
As a defensive unit, UAB collectively had 84 tackles for loss for a combined 288 yards, which was paved by the defensive line. The Blazers had no less than three TFL in every game during the 2017 campaign, including reaching double digit TFLs twice (Alabama A&M – 12, UTSA – 10).
Senior tackle Teko Powell and sophomore tackle Garrett Marino were each Honorable Mention All-Conference USA. Powell was huge for UAB in stopping the run, while Marino became a starter halfway through the season and finished with 8.0 TFL, while fellow nose tackle Anthony Rush had 9.0 TFL. On the edge, junior Stacy Keely had a team-best four sacks.
Overall, Tatum helped UAB return from a two-year hiatus in 2017 to set the program record for FBS wins in a season (8), Conference USA wins (6) and finished with a perfect 6-0 record at home for the first time ever. The Blazers’ appearance in the Bahamas Bowl was just the second bowl game in program history.
Tatum was named UAB’s defensive line coach in February of 2017 following his time as the Blazers’ strength and conditioning assistant since the Fall of 2016.
Tatum began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Texas State from 2011-2012 under the direction of head coach Dennis Franchione. In 2012 he coached tight ends and was subsequently promoted to defensive tackles coach from 2013-2015.
During the 2013 season, defensive lineman Michael Odiari was named Third Team All-Sun Belt. Odiari tripled his sack output between his junior and senior seasons, finishing with 9.0, and was recognized as a unanimous First Team All-Sun Belt Conference defensive lineman.
The Bobcats’ defense finished the year with 28 sacks, averaging 2.25 per contest, good for 61st nationally. The 2014 unit also boasted linebacker David Mayo, who was honored as the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to second team selections Craig Mager (linebacker) and David Mims (defensive back).
Prior to entering the coaching profession, Tatum was a four-year varsity football letterman at the University of Alabama from 2002-2006, contributing his efforts to both the offensive and defensive lines. For his standout efforts in the classroom, he earned 2003 Academic All-SEC honors. After racking up 14 tackles during his redshirt freshman year, Tatum transitioned to the offensive line in 2004, starting nine games and 739 snaps at right tackle.
He proceeded to start all 12 games in 2005, again at right tackle, which included a 13-10 victory over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl, and was recognized as an honorable mention All-SEC offensive lineman. Tatum finished with 16 knockdown blocks during the 2006 season.
Tatum attended Prattville High School in Prattville, Ala., where he had a stellar prep career under the leadership of Bill Clark. Tatum, considered a high school All-American according to numerous publications, was a Birmingham News Dandy Dozen pick his senior year in addition to receiving honorable mention All-State honors. He led the Lions to the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state playoffs his senior year, which ended in a 17-14 defeat to eventual state champion Daphne.
He graduated from Alabama in 2006 with a degree in Business Management.
BLAKE SHRADER | DEFENSIVE BACKS
Blake Shrader guided the UAB defensive backs to one of Conference USA’s top units in 2017 which finished as the league’s second ranked pass defense (189.7 yards/game) and third in interceptions (14).
Highlighting Shrader’s group was senior cornerback Darious Williams who finished the season as a First Team All-America honoree by Pro Football Focus and a First Team All-Conference USA selection.
Williams climbed the ranks as one the nation’s top shutdown corners. He led Conference USA in passes defended (20), interceptions (5) and pass breakups (15), and finished the season tied for fifth nationally with 1.5 passes defended per game.
Shrader also developed Broderick Thomas into one of Conference USA’s top and most consistent safeties. Thomas started all 13 games for the Blazers and was second on the team with 95 total tackles en route to earning All-Conference USA Honorable Mention. Thomas had a team-high 66 unassisted tackles and also added three TFL, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Overall, Shrader helped UAB return from a two-year hiatus in 2017 to set the program record for FBS wins in a season (8), Conference USA wins (6) and finished with a perfect 6-0 record at home for the first time ever. The Blazers’ appearance in the Bahamas Bowl was just the second bowl game in program history.
Shrader began his second stint with the UAB football program in January of 2016.
Shrader was a part of UAB’s remarkable turnaround in 2014 as he helped first year head coach Bill Clark and the Blazers reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004. Shrader served as the director of player personnel that season.
Prior to his return to Birmingham, Shrader spent the 2015 season as a quality control coordinator at the University of Georgia. The Bulldogs were 10-3 in 2015 and capped their season with a 24-17 victory over Penn State in the Taxslayer Bowl.
Shrader’s first full-time appointment came in 2013 with Bill Clark at Jacksonville State as the cornerback’s coach. In his lone season with the Gamecocks, JSU went 11-4 and reached the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs, marking the school’s first-ever victories in the NCAA Division I playoffs.
Before JSU, Shrader was a part of Bill Clark’s defensive staff at South Alabama from 2010-12 as a graduate assistant. In 2012, USA’s first year in Sun Belt, the Jaguars ranked second in the league in total defense.
Shrader got his coaching start at his alma mater of Auburn University as a defensive quality control assistant from 2008-09.
A highly-touted recruit out of Stevenson, Ala., Shrader played safety at Auburn from 2004-07 and graduated in 2008 with a degree in health promotion. He was an all-state performer for North Jackson High School both as a junior and senior.
Shrader is married to the former Shanda Thomas.
XAVIER ROBINSON | ASSISTANT OF ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Xavier Robinson was named UAB’s defensive backs coach in June of 2016. He joined the Blazers in 2014 as a strength and conditioning coach.
Prior to arriving in Birmingham, Robinson spent the previous 10 years coaching at powerhouse Prattville High School from 2005-14.
Robinson spent his final three years (2011-14) as the varsity defensive backs coach, while he was also the head coach of the freshman team from 2010-12.
During his time at Prattville, Robinson coached many players who went on to have successful Division I careers, including Nick Perry (Alabama), Justin Thomas (Georgia Tech) and Justin Shanks (Florida State).
When Robinson arrived at Prattville in 2005, he was the assistant varsity defensive backs coach and was also the head junior varsity basketball coach from 205-07. In 2008 he was named Prattville’s varsity head basketball coach and held that position until 2014.
As head coach for the Lions’ basketball team, Robinson led Prattville to three consecutive 6A Area Championships (2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11), and was named the Autauga County Boys Basketball Coach of the Year in each of those seasons.
Robinson has one daughter, Dominique.
BRIAN WILLIAMS | LINEBACKERS
Brian Williams enters his second season on the sidelines for the Blazers as the linebackers coach after a successful 2017 campaign that was highlighted by the development of senior Tevin Crews.
Crews stayed at UAB during the program’s two-year hiatus and once back on the field, Williams guided him to career numbers and All-Conference USA accolades.
At middle linebacker, Crews was the only player in Conference USA to rank in the top 10 in both tackles per game (7.8) and tackles for loss (12.0). Crews finished with a career-high and team-best 102 tackles to go along with his 12 TFLs, three sacks, three pass breakups, one interception and one forced fumble.
Williams also developed sophomore Fitzgerald Mofor into one of UAB’s most consistent players as Mofor started all 13 games for the Blazers and finished third on the team with 71 tackles. Meanwhile, true freshman Thomas Johnston gained valuable experience in playing all 13 games and finishing the season with 32 tackles.
Overall, Williams helped UAB return from a two-year hiatus in 2017 to set the program record for FBS wins in a season (8), Conference USA wins (6) and finished with a perfect 6-0 record at home for the first time ever. The Blazers’ appearance in the Bahamas Bowl was just the second bowl game in program history.
Although 2017 was William’s first year coaching games at UAB, he joined the Blazers coaching staff in January of 2016 to help bring the program back.
Prior to UAB, Williams was at the University of Georgia in 2015 as the player relations director for the Bulldogs’ defense. Before that, he was on staff at Florida State for two years as a defensive analyst and was a part of the Seminoles’ 29-game winning streak which included capturing the 2013 National Championship.
The Florida State defense finished the 2013 season allowing just 12.1 points against, anchored by linebackers Telvin Smith and Reggie Northrup. Smith led the team with 90 tackles and 9.5 TFL. Williams contributed to FSU’s defense that ranked second in total defense, first in passing defense and third in rushing defense.
Williams had a very successful high school coaching career before jumping to the collegiate level. His first coaching stop was at Rickards High School in Tallahassee. He then returned to his alma mater of Miami Carol City High School where he spent seven years coaching football and teaching math and special education.
After one year in Georgia, Williams moved back to Tallahassee to begin a three-year stint at Godby High School as the Defensive Coordinator. Williams helped Godby win the Florida state title in 2012 as the Cougars finished with an overall record of 15-1.
Williams played high school ball at Miami Carol under legendary Florida coach Walt Frazier. He earned a scholarship at Albany State University in Georgia and then transferred to Florida A&M where he finished his college degree.
Williams is married to the former Diasha Walker.
NICK GENTRY | OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS
UAB football head coach Bill Clark announced Nick Gentry as the 10th assistant coach on March 1, 2018. Gentry's main responsibility will be working with the outside linebackers.
Gentry, who played for Clark in high school at Prattville, went on to win two national championships as a defensive lineman at the University of Alabama in 2009 and 2011. In 2011, he was named Alabama's Co-Defensive MVP with Courtney Upshaw and helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship victory over LSU in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Upon graduation, Gentry's coaching career began as a defensive analyst at the University of Tennessee in 2012 where he worked primarily with defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri.
After one year at Tennessee, Gentry joined Clark's staff at Jacksonville State in 2013 as a graduate assistant on the defensive line and helped guide the Gamecocks to an 11-4 overall record and an appearance in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs.
Gentry was then promoted to a full-time assistant in 2014 coaching outside linebackers and defensive ends. He would coach there through 2017 and helped lead the Gamecocks to a national championship appearance versus North Dakota State while coaching three time All-American and Buck Buchanan award winner Darius Jackson.
He also coached two-time All-American Chris Landrum as well as Academic All-Americans Joseph Roberts and Dalton Campbell while at JSU.
Gentry is married to the former Magen Mathis and they have one son Brennan.
JOHN JONES | DEFENSIVE GRADUATE ASSISTANT
Bio Coming Soon!
JAY SIMPSON | DEFENSIVE ANALYST
Bio Coming Soon!