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LAKELAND, Fla.—Southeastern University head football coach Keith Barefield has announced the hiring of Tyrone Pettaway as the program’s new defensive coordinator.

Pettaway has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach on the defensive side of the ball for the Fire, working with the linebackers. Last season, Josh Schulte was named the Mid-South Sun Division’s Defensive Player of the Year, and Will Tillo also earned all-conference recognition.

“It will be an easy transition,” said Pettaway. “I’m very familiar with our group of returners, but the biggest thing will be replacing the group that left. There will be a lot of new players on the field, and I’m looking forward to seeing our guys grow.”

In addition to his success with the Fire, Pettaway brings a bevy of experience, which includes NCAA Division I and NFL responsibilities. Prior to coming to Lakeland, the Newport News, Va. native coached the linebackers for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, and tutored rookie linebacker Jeff Knox Jr. to All-CFL West recognition.

Pettaway has also been an assistant linebacker coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and at the University of Southern California and the University of Tennessee.

“Tyrone Pettaway has been a part of our coaching staff for the past two seasons, and has distinguished himself as an accomplished linebacker coach,” said Barefield. “I am pleased that he has agreed to take on the responsibilities of Defensive Coordinator.  He has coached at every level of competition and has been successful. I am confident that he will translate that success into our defense and take it to the next level.”

For two seasons, Pettaway was the defensive coordinator at North Carolina Wesleyan, where he helped a unit that gave up over 35 points per game in 2013, hold teams to 27 per game in 2014. Additionally, the Battling Bishops cut 31 passing yards per game from their averages in 2013 to 2014.

Pettaway takes over a defense that finished fourth in the Mid-South Conference in scoring (22.9 ppg), and sixth in total defense (327.9 yards per game).

The Fire finished the 2017 season 8-2, won their third consecutive conference title, and made their second NAIA Football Championship Series appearance.