Cleburne's Scotty Walden, who has served as the Southern Miss interim head football interim coach since Sept. 7, was announced today as the head football coach at Austin Peay State University.
Walden has been a member of the Golden Eagle football staff since the 2017 season, where he held roles of wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator before being named interim head coach last month.
"Callie, Luca and I are incredibly blessed and thankful to be a part of the Governor family," Walden said in a statement released by Austin Peay. "Becoming the head football coach for an up-and-coming program like Austin Peay is a dream come true for myself and my family.
"I am looking forward to meeting the players and getting to work as soon as possible. We appreciate (Interim APSU President) Dannelle Whiteside, (Director of Athletics) Gerald Harrison and the entire Austin Peay community for the amazing opportunity and belief in us. Let's go do something special together!"
Energetic, Innovative, Passionate… Austin Peay is beaming Scotty Walden aboard as its 21st Head Football Coach. APSU will hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 2 in the Dunn Center to welcome Scotty and his family. 🗞 | https://t.co/aqOcsOdoCv#LetsGoPeay pic.twitter.com/hiL0q3bfZf— Austin Peay Govs (@letsgopeay) October 27, 2020
At age 30, Walden is the youngest head coach in Division I football.
"We are excited for Scotty and his family as they begin this new journey and we wish them nothing but the best,” Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain said in a statement.
Austin Peay, located in Clarksville, Tennessee, competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision and is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.
"Today, we welcome one of the most energetic and innovative young coaches in the country to lead our football team," Austin Peay Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison said in a statement released by the school. "In Coach Walden, we have found a man who is passionate about the student-athlete experience, energized about being part of the university and Clarksville-Montgomery County community, and excited to join us in our relentless pursuit of excellence.
"Scotty is a new-age CEO for a new era of college football. He is a tireless worker, a motivator, a dogged recruiter, and a person who possesses an infectious personality that will lead us back to the OVC Championship and beyond. I am thrilled to welcome Scotty, Callie, and Luca to the Austin Peay family, and I look forward to our opportunity to officially welcome them Monday."
Austin Peay announced it will welcome Walden to Clarksville during an introductory press conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
Cleburne Coach Casey Walraven said he knew this day was coming soon for Walden and the Yellow Jackets' head coach added that they take pride in Walden being a Jacket.
“When Scotty first started at Sul Ross, I knew he was going to be a head coach one day soon,” Walraven said. “He has that energy, knowledge, passion, charisma and he's that relationship-building type of guy, all things you need [to be a college head coach]. All through his career, we've kept in touch.
“Him being from Cleburne is a special thing. We're really proud of him here. It's no surprise he's getting these opportunities. It's really cool to have somebody that's from Cleburne to be able to have that type of opportunity.”
Walden will start at Austin Peay "immediately" as the Governors are scheduled to begin their season in February, leaving only a couple of months to put together a coaching staff, move and get integrated into a new program.
While many may look at Walden's young age of 30 years old and do a double take, Walraven said it's not a surprise that Walden has this opportunity at an early age.
“I think it's crazy from the outside perspective, but it's not crazy if you know him,” Walraven said. “He's an elite type of person. What he demands of himself, the passion that he pours into what he does and the way he can get players to play for him, not everybody has what he has. He's got a lot of that naturally and a lot of it he works hard at. I'm not shocked he's a head coach at the DI level at 30. It was just a matter of time.”
Walden went to Southern Miss after spending four seasons at East Texas Baptist University, including one season as the Tigers' head football coach in 2016, which made him the youngest head coach in the nation at age 26. ETBU went 7-3 under Walden as the Tigers led the country in scoring at 49.9 points per game, while finishing second in total offense (564.3 yards per game) and sixth in passing offense (365.3 yards per game).
Before being named ETBU's head coach, Walden served three years as the school's offensive coordinator, where he led the most prolific offenses in program history. Prior to ETBU, Walden was offensive coordinator at Sul Ross State University in 2012 where he directed the nation's top offense at any level, only a year after his playing career ended.
Considered one of the brightest offensive minds in collegiate football, the American Football Coaches Association tabbed Walden as a Top 35 coach under 35 years of age in December 2019.
In December 2018, Walden told the Times-Review he had a goal to be a Division I head coach within 10 years — mission accomplished with Tuesday's news that he is now Austin Peay's head coach.
“When I got the job at Southern Miss, I made a goal for myself that within five years I’d like to be a coordinator at this level and within 10 years I’d like to be a head coach at this level,” Walden said in 2018. “So those are two goals I’ve made since I got the job at Southern Miss. The only way to accomplish those goals is to be around great people — and you’ve got to win. Being around the people I’m around every day is huge for my growth and is helping me get ready for those opportunities when they come.”
Walden, a 2008 Cleburne High School graduate, was an All-Johnson County quarterback for the Yellow Jackets in 2007.