HAVRE — It’s been over a month since MSU-Northern named Big Sky Conference legend Jerome Souers as its new head football coach, and he hasn’t wasted a minute.
“You know, it's gone fast and furious, but it it's been a lot of fun,” Souers told MTN Sports this week. “I think we've been well received the town of Havre and the whole state of Montana's been very kind to us."
He’s spent much of the month on the road, visiting high school coaches and sharing his vision for the program. He’s made stops along the Hi-Line, in Great Falls, Missoula and beyond.
“We intend to win the H-Line in recruiting and we're gonna do a great job of meeting everybody hand to hand, eye to eye,” Souers said. “We want to earn trust and relationships so that our high school coaches know, if they send a young man our way he's gonna be treated well, he's gonna be treated properly.”
Souers also has his full time staff in place. Tim Davis is the Lights offensive line coach and run game coordinator. A coaching veteran, Davis has made stops at Utah, Wisconsin, USC, Florida, Alabama and spent three seasons as an assistant on the Miami Dolphins.
“He’s coached at Alabama with Nick Saban and the USC with Pete Carroll when they won the national championship,” Souers said.
Steve Broussard joins the Lights staff as offensive coordinator. Broussard is a Hall of Fame running back at Washington State who played 10 seasons in the NFL after he was drafted in the first round of the 1990 NFL draft.
As a coach, Broussard has spend time at Washington State, Arizona State, UCLA and had significant success as a high school coach.
“Steve brings a wealth of experience and great recruiting network and his relationship building skills with young men is phenomenal,” added Souers.
And perhaps the most familiar to Montana fans is former MSU assistant Joe O’Brien, who joins the Lights as the Associate Head Coach and defensive coordinator.
“Joe O'Brien and I worked together in 1999 when I hired him as a graduate assistant at Northern Arizona University. I lost him from there, but I've always wanted a coach with Joe again we had a, a great chemistry and looking forward to.”
O’Brien was an up and coming coach for the Bobcats under head coach Mike Kramer, before a federal meth charge and 28 month stay in federal prion derailed his promising career.
Since then, he’s turned his life around. He’s embraced sobriety, started a successful roofing business in Great Falls, started a family, coached at Simms High School and worked behind the scenes with several college programs.
He hopes to use his experiences to help athletes with mental health and overcoming their own struggles.
“Addressing a lot of the trauma that young people go through and being able to relate to and recognize when young people are in trouble is a part of what Joe brings,” Souers said.
O’Brien is grateful for the opportunity to coach again.
“This coaching thing is what I do. That's just what comes natural. It's the most passionate thing that I've ever done,” O’Brien said. “And you know we don't like to look in the past, we can't change anything in the past, and of course it's been 18 years since I've had a job. But I'm just blessed and fortunate to be able to be with coach Souers. (Northern president) Greg Kegel and the entire community up there has wrapped their arms around me and I’m blessed to be there.”
Numbers are light at Northern. Following the departure of coach Andrew Rolin, several players left the program. The Lights only have 36 players currently on the roster, so there’s lots of work ahead.
But Souers and his staff have all been a part of rebuilding teams, ascending teams and eventually championship teams so they know how to build a winner. With the players already in the fold and the future recruits to come, Souers is excited to work with a blank slate.
“We’re doing our ABC’s and we're gonna build a word and then we're gonna build a sentence,” Souers said. “And eventually we're going to be able to tell our story.”
There will be several opportunities to meet the Lights coaching staff. They will be on hand at the Paddle Auction at MSU-Northern on Friday, March 4th. The event will be held at the Student Union Building at 6 p.m., tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling 406-265-3711.
Several booster are also holding a meet and greet planned at the Gallery Lounge in Havre on Saturday at 4 p.m.