|Title:||Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach|
Gerard Wilcher is now in his ninth season as the Mountain Hawks’ defensive backs coach and will also serve as the team’s co-defensive coordinator, a position he will hold for the second time.
Wilcher did perhaps his best coaching job yet during the 2011 season. Forced to replace four All-League performers from the 2010 secondary, Wilcher’s coaching paid dividends in the steady development his four first-year starters. Bryan Andrews and Billy O’Brien earned second team All-Patriot League honors. Two members of the secondary recorded at least three interceptions with Andrews finishing among the nation’s leaders. Wilcher’s secondary was key in Lehigh finishing among the league leaders in total defense, interceptions (17), and turnover margin (+6).
In the 2010 season Wilcher coached four All-Patriot League selections for the second time in his career with Jarard Cribbs garnering first team honors and Casey Eldemire, John Kennedy, and John Veniero receiving second team honors. Lehigh ranked first in the league in scoring defense, red zone defense and turnover margin, and second in interceptions, with Cribbs leading the way with seven, the most for a Lehigh player since 1986, on his way to earning All-America honors.
During the 2009 season Wilcher mentored a pair of All-Patriot League selections in Jarard Cribbs and John Kennedy. With that pair leading the way in the defensive backfield the Mountain Hawks led the Patriot League in pass defense and red zone defense and ranked second in scoring defense and total defense. Lehigh also held seven opponents to fewer than 200 yards passing and Cribbs ranked among the league leaders in pass breakups, while John Veniero was near the top of the league in interceptions.
In 2008, the Lehigh secondary had a breakout season, leading the Patriot League in interceptions with 18, which were the Mountain Hawks most since the 2004 season. Lehigh also ranked second in the league in pass efficiency defense and held three opponents below the 50-percent completion percentage mark. Two of Wilcher’s starters, Quadir Carter ’09 and Jarard Cribbs, earned All-Patriot League honors, with Carter named to the First-Team. Carter also went onto earn All-America distinction after posting double-digit tackles in four games and finishing second on the Mountain Hawks with 81 total stops. The success of Wilcher’s secondary was not limited to on-field accomplishments, as Carter’s running mate at safety, Brendan Van Ackeren ’09, was named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Team and also earned a spot on the FCS Athletics Directors Academic All-Star Team.
During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, the Lehigh secondary picked off 17 passes and held eight opponents to less than 100 yards passing. During that time, Wilcher produced five All-Patriot League selections, including Brannan Thomas and Ernest Moore in 2007. As a unit, the 2007 Mountain Hawks secondary had six players who recorded at least 20 total tackles, including Moore who ranked third on the team with 60 stops, and Lehigh led the Patriot League in opponent’s pass completion percentage.
In 2005, Wilcher served as the team’s defensive coordinator, and the Mountain Hawks had one of the stingiest defenses in the Patriot League. Lehigh was tops in the league against the run, allowing only 104.4 yards per game on the ground. The Mountain Hawks also paced the league with 36 sacks, and 17 interceptions and Lehigh was the toughest defense in stopping fourth down conversion attempts.
In Wilcher’s first season in Bethlehem, the Lehigh secondary proved to be among the toughest in the league. The 2004 Mountain Hawks led the Patriot League with 20 interceptions, and Lehigh ranked sixth in Division I-AA by allowing only 16.1 points per game. All four of Wilcher’s starters earned all-league honors.
Wilcher originally joined the staff at Lehigh after serving three years as the defensive secondary coach for Cornell. In 2003 at Cornell, the Big Red led the Ivy League in passing efficiency defense. Prior to coaching at Cornell, Wilcher spent four seasons at UMass, where he helped lead the Minutemen to a 1998 national championship as well as another appearance in the national quarterfinals. While serving as the wide receivers coach at UMass, Wilcher’s group set school records for catches and reception yards in a single season. Wilcher also spent a season coaching the outside linebackers.
In 2007, Wilcher was selected as one of just 26 coaches across the country to participate in the NCAA Expert Coaches Academy in Miami, Florida where he participated in numerous workshops that focused on a variety of topics including communication, academic success, and building a successful football program. During the summer of 2008 Wiclher interned with the Philadelphia Eagles where he worked with the defensive backs. He has also interned for the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals.
A four-year member of the Morehouse football team, Wilcher earned his bachelor’s in business administration from Morehouse in 1992.
Wilcher and his wife Ayanna live in Bethlehem with their three children: son Xavier (15), and daughters Jalen (13) and Jehlani (9).