Reunited with Cannon at Austin Peay.

The last time Josh Richards was on Kirby Cannon's football staff in Rolla, a slew of offensive school records were set.
The two hope for much of the same success now that they are reunited in Tennessee.

Richards, a Rolla High School graduate, on Monday was hired as an assistant football coach at Austin Peay State University, an NCAA Division I program.

Richards rejoins Cannon, who in March was hired as Austin Peay football head coach. Richards will be coaching wide receivers for the Austin Peay Governors.
Previously Richards served as a Cannon football assistant for five seasons at Missouri S&T, including three as offensive coordinator.

The hiring marks the return to the game for Richards, who did not coach in 2012.

"It's a tremendous opportunity," Richards said by phone Monday afternoon. "My family is all very excited. It's exciting to get to work with a program that is going to be on the rise."

Richards was a starting quarterback at both Rolla High and Central Methodist University. He later served a four-year stint as St. James High School football head coach, helping the Tigers set several offensive records there, before moving on to S&T.

After Cannon resigned at S&T in 2009 to take an assistant coaching job at Division I Central Michigan, Richards was not retained on the Miner staff by Cannon's head coaching replacement, David Brown.

Richards later returned to St. James to teach and serve as an assistant coach there for a couple of years.

He had reached an agreement to teach and coach in the Waynesville School System for the 2013-14 school year, although he never actually signed a contract before leaving for the Austin Peay position.

"In June we had just coached on a Tuesday night during camp at Waynesville and (Cannon) told me about the possible (Austin Peay) opportunity," Richards said. "We didn't sign anything (at Waynesville), but I had a verbal agreement and to me that's the same thing. Waynesville was very good about it; they were all very understanding."

Richards is the second ex-Miner assistant coach hired by Cannon since he took over the Austin Peay Govs' program. Last month Kyran Weaver, a former player and coach at S&T, was hired as Austin Peay linebackers coach and strength and conditioning coordinator.

"The advantage of hiring people you know is they also know you," Cannon said. "That will be more efficient on how we run the program. Both (Richards and Weaver) are very good men and very good coaches."

With Richards as offensive coordinator the Miners set school marks for points scored (408) and offensive yards (4,945) while eclipsing the 50-point mark on three occasions in 2008.

In 2007 S&T had its highest single-game point total (68) in 85 seasons and also scored 60 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time since the school's undefeated squad of 1914.

The Miners led the Great Lakes Football Conference in total offense in 2007 and ranked 12th nationally in the NCAA Division II with an average of 449.5 yards per game. The team's scoring mark of 37.1 per game ranked 13th nationally.

As Cannon tries to turn around a Division I program that has been an also-ran in the Ohio Valley Conference, he will initially go with a more ball-control offense than the wide-open, spread attack he eventually used with the Miners.

"We will be in a huddle, we'll slow it down some (compared to S&T's spread attack)," Richards said. "There will be more emphasis on the run."

"It will not be so much different than the offense we ran when we first got to Rolla," Cannon said. "In a total rebuild situation we've got to be a little more ball-control; clock-control conscious."

Richards has had plenty of success working with productive receivers. The most productive he coached at both the high school and college level – former St. James High School all-stater and Miner record-setter Chad Shockley.

"One of the best things about Josh is he's a good teacher," Cannon said. "He's a good and sound fundamental coach and he'll do a great job in increasing the consistency and effort at the position. And we have some talent in those spots. Josh was a coach at the high school level and his ability to teach will be enhanced by that. Plus he has a good football mind."

Some patience will be needed, as Austin Peay finished 2-9 in 2012, 3-8 in 2011, 2-9 in 2010, 4-7 in 2009 and 2-9 in 2008.

And this coming season the squad will be playing three opponents that went to bowls in 2012 (Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Ohio) in the first four weeks of the campaign.

However, the university has shown it is serious in turning the football program around, as a $26 million new stadium project is currently in the works.
Richards will be hitting the ground running. A one-day recruit camp will be held on Friday and there is also an upcoming 7-on-7 tournament hosted by the school as well as an alumni event.

"We are finishing up the new playbooks and will start official staff meetings on July 23," Cannon said. "Josh will spend time learning the system and terminology. Plus, we have some receivers staying here this summer and it's a good opportunity for Josh to get some work in with them."

Weaver Hired
Weaver's most recent coaching experience was a two-year stint at Harper College in Pallentine, Ill., a former junior college national championship program that was dropped after the 2011 season. Weaver worked in the private sector since early 2012 but jumped at the chance to return to coaching when former mentor Kirby Cannon called.

"Kyran is a good man and was a good player and coach for us at Rolla," Cannon said. "I never, ever remember Kyran Weaver not doing what he was supposed to do. He is just a great example and we need someone like that on our coaching staff who can say 'I did it this way so you can do it this way.'

"I think he will bring day-in, day-out doing the right thing on the field, off the field and in the classroom. That was a guy who I wanted to bring into the program as my first coaching hire. I feel very lucky to get him."

Weaver is a certified strength coach and will work with APSU athletics strength and conditioning coordinator Nick Honzik to best assist APSU football players.

Prior to being at Harper College, Weaver coached three seasons at this alma mater, Missouri S&T. While with the Miners, Weaver coached the defensive line that proved to be the best against the run in the Great Lakes Football Conference during the 2008 season.

Weaver spent the 2006 season as a student assistant while completing his bachelor's degree work in biological sciences. He coached the defensive line that season, propelling his desire to enter the coaching profession.

During his S&T career, Weaver played at linebacker and defensive end and had a career-high 47 tackles during the 2002 season. He had 14 tackles and three sacks in his senior year and also had an interception which he returned for a touchdown.

His younger brother Kellen, also played linebacker for the Miners from 2006-09.

Some information for this story was provided by Austin Peay Sports Information.