This week, UTC assistant coach Will Healy was named the new head football coach at Austin Peay State University. When I learned that Will was a finalist for the job, I knew he would get it, and so did anyone else who knew him. I have personally known Will Healy since he was a freshman at Boyd-Buchanan. He was a teammate of my son Davey, and actually played a lot as a freshman for the Bucs. He and Davey became great friends and Will spent quite a few nights at my house, along with several other members of Boyd-Buchanan's team. From day one, my wife Shelia and I called him, "Young Will." I even took "Young Will" and my son to Ole Miss when I was doing an SEC game on SportSouth. Practically the entire trip, Will and Davey were in the back of my Ford Exhibition wrestling, like young boys will do.
As a sophomore, Will was the starting quarterback for Boyd-Buchanan and he helped guide the Bucs to the TSSAA semi-finals, before losing to eventual State Champion Christ Presbyterian Academy.
During his time with the Bucs, Will set new records for passing yardage in the Chattanooga area. After graduation, he signed with Air Force, but wound up at Richmond where he came in contact with current UTC head coach Russ Huesman, who was the defensive coordinator. Just after the Spiders won the FCS Championship at Finley Stadium in 2008, Huesman was hired to coach the Mocs and Will Healy was one of his first hires as an assistant coach. Seven seasons later, and the Mocs have made three straight trips to the FCS playoffs, along with three straight Southern Conference Titles.
Football has always been in Will Healy's blood. His dad Rob Healy was a star at Georgia Tech, while his uncle, Chip Healy, was an All-American linebacker at Vanderbilt. You could tell from an early age that "Young Will" had a complete knowledge of the game and was always prepared and focused. He was mature beyond his years, even when he played as a freshman at Boyd-Buchanan. In other words, Will Healy was born to coach football.
His parents, Rob and Betsy have always been his biggest supporters. They have always been at his games, whether he played or not. They are part of a wonderful family that has a strong bond; one that most families should envy. Now that Will and his wife Emily have a year old baby boy, it will become very important for Rob and Betsy to learn the route to Clarksville, TN quickly.
Austin Peay is not exactly what you would term a "super power" in college football. The Governors have been known more for basketball than football. In fact, the only consistent winner at Austin Peay on the gridiron was Boots Donnelly who won for a few seasons before taking the job at Middle Tennessee State, where he became a hall of fame coach. If anyone can match the standards set by Coach Donnelly, it will be Will Healy. And by the way, Austin Peay has a brand new stadium, complete with sky boxes, which will make an already great recruiter even greater.
I doubt very seriously if the Healys have a lot of red in their closets, so if you are led to do some last minute Christmas shopping the Governors' colors are red and white. However, I would imagine the boosters in Clarksville have already taken care of that.
So, here's wishing you well, Coach Healy. I'm sure you will be a great head coach. Remember it's in your genes and your chemical make-up.
Well played, "Young Will." Well played.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have four grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, DellaMae and CoraLee.