FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Head Coach Jerome Souers announced the addition of Vernon Smith Jr. to the Northern Arizona Football coaching staff. Smith will serve as NAU's defensive secondary coach.
"I'm excited to welcome Vernon to the Lumberjack family," said Souers. "He won a national championship as a player in the Big Sky and later moved into coaching where he has produced some of the best cornerbacks in the conference. I'm happy to have Vernon join the NAU staff."
Smith arrives at NAU after spending the last two seasons as the cornerbacks coach at fellow Big Sky member Portland State. While with the Vikings, Smith helped coach Portland State to a second round appearance in the 2015 NCAA FCS Playoffs. During his time in Portland, Smith guided both of his starting cornerbacks to All-Big Sky honors his first year, following it up the next season with Xavier Coleman receiving All-Big Sky and Associated Press All-American honors in 2016.
Prior to Portland State, Smith worked at College of the Redwoods in 2014 as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Previously, he spent two seasons at Arizona Western and two seasons at Palomar College as a secondary coach. Smith got his coaching experience started as a graduate assistant at Central Washington in 2010.
The San Diego native played four years of football at Montana as the teammate of NAU defensive coordinator Andy Thompson. Smith was a three-time All-Big Sky Conference selection and a second-team All-American in 2002. He was a member of the Griz' National Championship team in 2001.
Smith earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from Montana and a master's degree in health and physical education from Central Washington University.