A promotion has been made within the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lion football program. Coach Santos Carrillo has been moved up from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator heading into his second season on staff. Carrillo will continue as the defensive line coach, and he takes pride in that group.
"I just really feel honored for coach Coleman to ask me to take over the defense," Carrillo said. "I know he's been in charge of it for a while. I know it's a learning process anytime there's turnover, but a lot of the terminology that coach uses is what I like using. It fits hand in hand. There are some things that I do differently that I hope can bring some excitement to our defense. It should be a easy transition."
As a United States Navy veteran, Carrillo began his coaching career in the high school ranks as a defensive line coach at Everett Alvarez High School in 2000. After quickly being moved to the defensive coordinator at Everett, Carrillo would then go on to coach in the college ranks.
Carrillo's first college coaching job was with the New Mexico Highlands Cowboys, and after three years as a defensive line coach, defensive coordinator, and assistant head coach, he took over the head coach position in 2005. Carrillo then made a move to Austria, where he would spend five seasons on the coaching staff of the Swarco Raiders, from 2008-10.
Carrillo then made a move back to the United States in 2012, coaching in the UFL under Jim Fossell for the Las Vegas Locos.
Carrillo then decided it was time to go back to the college ranks, and he served on the coaching staff of the Murray State Racers from 2013-15. Carrillo served as the defensive line coach in 2014 and 2015 and served as the linebackers coach in 2013.
In his first season with the Golden Lions as the defensive line coach, the defense didn't come close to what he envisions it being. The Golden Lions were ranked ninth in rushing defense, 10th in passing defense and 10th in total defense.
"We were a pretty young team," Carrillo said. "The high multitude of turnover in the coaching staff is something you have to hold in account. I was here in the spring of last year, and we were learning new philosophies. Consistency, teaching and philosophy is key. We're working on getting the fundamentals down and just playing while enjoying yourself. I don't want to overwhelm them with rigorous schemes. I want them to be able to relax and go out and play."
A few days away from the start of fall camp, Carrillo is ready to put the guys to the test. Fall camp will be challenging, but it will only make things easier when it's time to strap up for game time.
"Camp is going to be tough," Carrillo said. "In camp, I want to put them in difficult situations. I want them to be wrong in camp so we can work on being perfect in games. The effort, hustle and aggressiveness needs to be there. They're going to make mistakes in practice, but we don't want to make mistakes on Saturday. With that, I think they'll be able to adapt to different situations, and it'll be fun for them in the long run. They'll like just being able to go out and play with confidence."
Carrillo listed a few guys that he expects to be leaders of the defense.
"Je'Kevin Carter and Nick Williams ... those two for sure," Carrillo said. "Tashad Charity could be another one. I think it's more about the attitude and character with those guys. They have the passion, and they really want to succeed. Guys need leaders, whether it be at vocal or non-vocal. Dave White is a corner for us who is a good leader that might not be as vocal, but he leads by example."
Flying around and having fun it's what Carrillo likes his defenses to do. He's confident that the defense will take a step in the right direction, and fans should be able to see the difference.
"I think we're going to be exciting," Carrillo said. "What you're going to see is a exciting, solid defense and guys having fun just getting after it. When you're having fun you're not worried, you're just flying around and playing football. We're going to be disciplined, structured and organized, and it should show on the field."