SPECIAL TO THE FLASH
STEPHENVILLE (May 16, 2016) – The coaching staff surrounding Todd Whitten in his return to Tarleton continues to fill out as the head coach of the Texans has hired Michael Ghobrial to lead the defensive line and special teams units this fall.
“One of the biggest things is the tradition that Tarleton has had,” said Ghobrial. “Obviously, I did my research on Coach Whitten and the programs he has had, especially at Tarleton State, and seeing his success made me realize he understands that there is a certain formula for winning in the Lone Star Conference.
“Also, the opportunity to recruit Texas kids is something that has always intrigued me,” he continued. “I’ve wanted to expand my recruiting ties because before this it has either been the complete West Coast or the complete East Coast and Texas is the biggest recruiting capital in the United States.”
A native of Torrance, California, Ghobrial brings a wealth of major Division I experience after spending eight seasons as a player and coach for UCLA and one season as a graduate assistant for Syracuse University. He also is no stranger to the NCAA Division II ranks after spending last season with Colorado Mesa, where he worked alongside Tarleton’s newest defensive coordinator Marcus Patton.
“We’re excited to have Coach Ghobrial here at Tarleton State University,” said Whitten. “He’s a great coach and a great guy. He brings a wealth of knowledge from one of the most historic NCAA Division I football programs in the country, UCLA. In addition to his knowledge of the game of football, he’s a great recruiter. We’re excited to have him on our staff.”
After graduating from West Torrance High School in 2006, Ghobrial took his talents Los Angeles where he suited up for the Bruins for three seasons as a defensive end before transitioning into the coaching world as a student assistant coach on the defensive line in 2009 under head coach Rick Neuheisel.
He coached two seasons as an undergraduate assistant before stepping into a graduate assistant role in 2011 – coaching the defensive line and special teams. He maintained that role for two more seasons under new head coach Jim Mora before heading to the East Coast for one season as a graduate assistant coach for the defensive line and special teams at Syracuse University.
Following his solo season with the Orangemen, Ghobrial headed to Grand Junction, Colorado for his first full-time position as the defensive line coach and co-special teams coordinator for Colorado Mesa, where he reunited on the sidelines with Patton.
“I have tremendous respect for Coach (Marcus) Patton,” said Ghobrial “He and I were graduate assistants together at UCLA so our relationship has stemmed over the course of several years. Even when we weren’t at the same school, we kept in touch, talked football, and picked each other’s brain. We’re both big on fundamentals and having that same philosophy on coaching really promotes a more successful defensive scheme. I’m excited for the opportunity to continue working with Coach Patton here at Tarleton.”
Ghobrial has made his mark not only in the Pac-12 but in the NFL, as well.
The California native has coached six all-conference defensive linemen during his time at UCLA, including All-American Datone Jones. He has also coached a pair of first round NFL draft picks – Jones (2013) and Kenny Clark (2016) – and multiple third and fourth round NFL draft picks.
From the special teams side of things, Ghobrial has had coaching impact on Jeff Locke and Kevin McDermott, who are currently enjoying NFL careers with the Minnesota Vikings, as well as the 2016 Lou Groza National Kicker of the Year award winner Ka’imi Fairbairn, who is currently with the Houston Texans.
“I put a heavy emphasis on special teams,” said Ghobrial. “We led the nation in blocked kicks for two straight years when I was at UCLA and we were top 10 in the nation in blocked kicks last year when I was at Colorado Mesa. I plan to put heavy emphasis in the special teams area.”
Ghobrial becomes the third addition to the Tarleton coaching staff since Whitten was hired in December. He joins Patton and Bryson Oliver as the newest coaches for the Purple and White.
“There’s a great opportunity ahead of us here,” said Ghobrial. “We have to be great students of the game and leave no stone unturned in regards to our preparation.”
Ghobrial received two degrees from UCLA beginning with his bachelor’s degree in history in 2010 before earning his master’s degree in comparative education in 2014. He wrote a published thesis in leadership during his graduate work.
Tarleton will open the 2016 football season on September 3 with a trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana for the season opener against FCS Division I member McNeese State.