by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Rice head football coach Mike Bloomgren formally announced on Friday of the hiring of Gerard Wilcher and Drew Svoboda as members of his first coaching staff. Wilcher will coach the Owls' cornerbacks while Svoboda will coach the running backs to complete the staff for Bloomgren's first season.
"I am really excited about adding Gerard and Drew to our staff," Bloomgren said. "Gerard has a tremendous level of experience and he has been a part of multiple winning programs. Drew knows this area so well having played and coached here and he developed a tremendous program at Klein Collins. We are thrilled that he wanted to join us at Rice."
A 27-year college coaching veteran, Wilcher comes to Rice from Delaware State where he served the past two years as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach after one season in a similar capacity at Division II Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa. While at Seton Hill, Wilcher's sparked the Griffins to a victory over conference champion and nationally-ranked Slippery Rock.
Prior to his tenure at Seton Hill, Wilcher served 10 seasons as an assistant coach at Lehigh University, where he was the defensive backs coach as well as co-defensive coordinator in last two seasons, helping guide the Mountain Hawks to a 26-7 record over those two years.
Wilcher coached 24 All-Patriot League performers at Lehigh and his defenses collected a total of 126 interceptions. Wilcher recruited future NFL third round pick Will Rackley (Jaguars, 2011) to Lehigh as well as Lee Kurfis, who in 2013 set the school's all-time single-season receiving record and was invited to the Dallas Cowboys training Camp.
He coached defensive backs at Cornell for three season, including 2003, when he helped guide the Big Red to the No. 1 Ivy League ranking in pass efficiency defense.
Prior to coaching at Cornell, Wilcher served four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts, where he helped lead the Minutemen to the 1998 Division I-AA National Championship, as well as another appearance in the national quarterfinals.
In 2007, Wilcher was selected as one of 26 coaches across the country to participate in the NCAA Expert Coaches Academy in Miami, Fla., where he participated in workshops focusing on such topics as communication, academic success, and building a successful football program. He has also interned for several NFL teams during training camp, most recently with the Denver Broncos prior to their winning Super Bowl 50
Svoboda makes the jump to collegiate coaching after guiding Klein Collins High School to five district championships, eight playoff appearances and a 93-24 record in 10 seasons as head coach of the Tigers. His 79.5 win percentage ranked sixth among active Texas 6A head coaches at the end of the 2017 season.
He took over a program that was 1-9 in 2007 and two years later led them to a 12-1 mark and a district championship, earning the first of five Touchdown Club of Houston Coach of the Year finalist awards as well as five District 15 6A Coach of the Year honors. He was named Dave Campbell's Texas Football Preseason 6A Coach of the year in 2017 after leading Klein Collins to the state semifinals in 2016.
He also served on the President of the Greater Houston Greater Houston Football Coaches Association and was on the Board of Directors for the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA), serving as the Region Five Director.
A graduate of Tomball High School, Svoboda was a three-year letterman and two-time Academic All-Southland Conference at Stephen F. Austin.