Aaron Fletcher Named Defensive Backs Coach
TEMPE, Ariz. – Sun Devil Football Head Coach Herm Edwards announced the hiring of 16-year coaching veteran Aaron Fletcher as the new Defensive Backs coach.
Fletcher joins Arizona State after previous stops at Missouri and Tulsa, following a successful stint at the high school level. Known around the country for his passion, leadership, and high-energy, Fletcher fits the mold of what Edwards was looking for in this position.
"I cannot thank Coach Edwards and Ray Anderson enough for allowing my family and I an opportunity to be a part of the prestigious Sun Devil Football program in the great community of Tempe," Coach Fletcher remarked.
During his coaching career, Fletcher has not only made an impact on the field, but also in the community and on the lives of his players. During his time at Tulsa, Fletcher developed and executed 'The Legacy of Black Wall Street', an initiative to bring awareness to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and celebrate black business owners during that time, as well as survivors, educators and university and athletics staff that broke the color barrier and made history. Each season, Tulsa's second home game was dedicated to 'The Legacy of Black Wall Street' with the Legacy and Leadership Award presented in honor of Tulsa's first African-American Senior Administrator, Dr. Derrick Gragg. Fletcher is driven to educate players on social justice and create a culture of equality.
"Football has been a ministry of sorts to me and has provided me an opportunity to grow not only as a man, husband, and father, but also a mentor, brother, friend, coach and student," Fletcher added. "Football is a vessel that has bridged many gaps not just in athletics but from socioeconomics, social, and an educational standpoint. The game since its inception has brought together communities and grown tremendous leaders, and my wife and I are so happy to have our family be a part of a program being led by a visionary such as Coach Herm Edwards."
Fletcher replaces Donnie Henderson, who served as Defensive Backs coach in a temporary fashion this past season. Henderson and his 30+ years of coaching experience will now move back into a consultant role on the Sun Devil Football staff.
"I look forward to meeting with our players and joining the culture that's been established; and working with the staff at ASU while taking the program to the next level with the support of our community and the great state of Arizona! Forks Up!"
The newest Sun Devil Defensive Backs coach comes to Tempe after most recently spending the 2021 season as an assistant coach at Missouri, working with the secondary. During his time in Columbia, the Tigers allowed only 206.7 passing yard/game, good enough for 29th nationally despite playing in the SEC, arguably the top conference in the nation last year. Fletcher's unit picked off 11 passes, which ranked Top-50 nationally, even though they faced the 17th-fewest opposing pass attempts nationally. Compare that to the 2020 season before Fletcher arrived, in which the Tigers allowed over 245 yards/game and only four interceptions.
Under Fletcher's tutelage, sophomore cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine was named to Pro Football Focus' (PFF) SEC All-Conference second team. Fletcher helped accelerate the development of Abrams-Draine, a starter on offense for the Tigers in 2020, into a All-Conference caliber defensive standout. In 2021, he totaled 33 tackles, three interceptions and seven passes broken up in 12 games played in the secondary.
In addition to his contributions with the secondary, Fletcher is also heavily involved with the special teams' units. This was another area that Abrams-Draine shined, as he compiled 471 kick return yards, highlighted by a 100-yard touchdown return against Tennessee.
Abrams-Draine is not the only player that originally started on offense that Fletcher seamlessly converted to defense. Former quarterback Shawn Robinson made the successful transition to safety, collecting 31 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and an interception in his first year at the position.
Fletcher was influential in the ascension of Tigers' defensive back Akayleb Evans, who followed Fletcher to Missouri after a standout career at Tulsa. Evans was the lone Missouri defender invited to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, as he prepares to be drafted. He made 29 tackles, forced two fumbles, and intercepted a pass in 11 games for the Tigers in 2021.
In Fletcher's only season with the Tigers, Missouri qualified for a bowl game, facing Army in the Armed Forces Bowl. Four of their six regular season wins came over fellow bowl-eligible teams, including big conference wins over South Carolina and Florida.
Prior to his stint at Missouri, Fletcher spent the last 15 years coaching at the collegiate and high school levels, including a run at Tulsa from 2015-20.
The Golden Hurricane pass defense thrived under Fletcher's guidance, as they routinely ranked near the top of the American Athletic Conference (AAC), including a top-10 national pass defense ranking at the end of the 2018 season. Golden Hurricane's defensive back Allie Green IV was a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist and defensive back Akayleb Evans was a member of the Wuerffel Trophy watch list.
Fletcher helped lead Tulsa to three bowl game appearances during his tenure, including a 55-10 2016 Miami Beach Bowl victory over Central Michigan. The Golden Hurricane pass defense ranked in the top five of the AAC in each of his final three seasons, including a conference-leading and seventh-best national mark of 174.6 yards per game in 2018.
He coached and mentored Reggie Robinson II to first-team 2019 All-AAC honors after recording four interceptions and a conference-leading 17 PBUs. Robinson became Tulsa's first NFL Draft pick in 10 years and its highest in 15 years when the Dallas Cowboys selected him with a fourth-round selection in 2020.
Fletcher also worked with Tulsa's special teams' units, and helped the block unit to an NCAA Top-15 final ranking in blocked kicks in both 2018 (No. 10) and 2019 (No. 14).
Prior to joining the Tulsa staff, Fletcher spent three seasons (2012-14) at Houston Baptist University (FCS) where he helped start the Huskies' football program from scratch. He coached Prince Sam to the program's first-ever all-conference selection in 2014. In addition to leading the team's secondary, Fletcher was crucial to the recruiting efforts while in Houston, helping land the school's first-ever top 100 recruit.
Before moving into the collegiate ranks, Fletcher coached at three Dallas-area high schools from 2006 through 2011, including his most recent stop as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at David W. Carter High School from 2011-12. While there, he coordinated one of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex's top defenses.
Fletcher also spent time at Desoto and Lancaster High Schools as defensive pass game coordinator and was regarded as one of the nation's top developers of high school defensive backs. In 2008, Fletcher's secondary corps for the Lancaster Tigers earned the billing of the nation's best secondary by several publications, coaching two All-Americans and four all-state selections. Four of his players were named Texas' Top 100 recruits in 2008.
Fletcher began his coaching career in 2001 as an assistant coach at Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Austin. Notable players coached by Fletcher include Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills (DeSoto), former Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears defensive back Demontre Hurst (Lancaster) and Chris Houston (LBJ), a second-round draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons, who also played for the Detroit Lions.
Fletcher attended Ranger Junior College for two years (1995-96), and as a cornerback earned team defensive MVP honors and all-conference accolades. He then moved to Texas A&M - Commerce and started at cornerback under current Mizzou assistant Curtis Luper. In 1999, Fletcher was rated as one of the top 20 defensive secondary draft-eligible prospects and participated in the NFL Pre-Draft Camp. He earned his degree in health education from Texas A&M - Commerce in 2003.
Fletcher played in the National Indoor Football League for the Austin Knights in 2001 and the Arena Football League with the Laredo Law Football Club in 2004.
An active member of his community, Fletcher founded "3 and Out Productions" to enhance community and student relationships through sports camps and clinics in East Austin. Throughout his career, Fletcher has also been involved with Boys and Girls Club, served as youth minister at Disciples of Faith in Commerce and was an active member of The Potter's House, a men's ministry in Dallas.
A native of Austin, Texas, Fletcher and his wife, Tanzania, have two daughters - Anaiya and Taylor - and one son, Aaron, Jr.