JONESBORO, Arkansas — Arkansas State head football coach Butch Jones announced Friday that Ryan Aplin, an Arkansas State University alumnus and two-time Sun Belt Conference Student-Athlete of the Year who most recently spent the 2020 season as co-offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky, has been named the Red Wolves’ running backs coach.
One of the most highly-touted players in school history, Aplin returns to A-State after coaching at the collegiate level the last seven seasons, including three in an offensive coordinator role. Following his playing career at A-State, he made coaching stops at Auburn (2014-15), North Alabama (2016, 2018-19), UT Chattanooga (2018-19) and WKU.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Ryan and his wife, Tori, sons Maverick and Hawkins and daughter, Naomi, into our Arkansas State coaching family,” said Jones. “Ryan has a great passion for his alma mater, and we couldn’t be more delighted to see him back in Jonesboro coaching on the same field where he broke numerous school records and helped lead this program to two Sun Belt Conference championships as a quarterback. He is a natural leader, outstanding coach and a tremendous addition to our staff.”
Aplin’s lone season with the Hilltoppers saw him help lead the program to an upcoming appearance in the LendingTree Bowl while serving as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach.
Prior to WKU, Aplin was North Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2018 and 2019. His last year in Florence, Ala., saw the Lions average 26.2 points per game as their passing game thrived. UNA averaged 285 passing yards per game as the team eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark over the 11-game season. Quarterback Christian Lopez targeted many different options with four different wide receivers posting at least 25 receptions, 550 yards and two touchdowns.
North Alabama assembled a 7-3 record in the program’s first season competing at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level in 2018, the first year of Aplin’s second stint with program. The Lions mastered four fourth-quarter come-from-behind wins, while the team set a school record with the fewest turnovers in a season in school history with just nine. Lopez also set a school individual record by throwing 253 consecutive passes without an interception.
Aplin was previously North Alabama’s wide receivers coach in 2016, then took a position as the wide receivers coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga in 2017. The Lions’ 2016 campaign saw them compile an 11-2 record, claim the Gulf South Conference and Super Region 2 championships and advance to the NCAA Division II National Championship game.
Prior to his first stop at UNA, Aplin served as a graduate assistant coach at Auburn for two years from 2014-15 while earning a master’s degree in adult education. He spent the 2013 season as a football administrative assistant at Ole Miss.
A Tampa, Fla., native, Aplin was twice named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012 when the Red Wolves won back-to-back league titles. The former quarterback still holds the school records for career total offense (12,514 yards), completions (906) and passing yards (10,758), while his 67 touchdown passes stand as the second most.
Aplin earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Arkansas State University in 2012.