LRU names new head football coach
Drew Cronic becomes Bears’ 22nd head football coach in school history
HICKORY, N.C. – Lenoir-Rhyne University and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Kim Pate announced that Drew Cronic, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Furman University, will be the new head football coach at Lenoir-Rhyne. University officials welcomed Cronic to the Bear family at a press conference this morning.
“We are excited to welcome Coach Cronic to Lenoir-Rhyne,” said Dr. Fred Whitt, University President. “Drew was our top choice among an impressive group of over 200 applicants and we could not be more pleased to have him as our head football coach. He is highly regarded and respected by his players and colleagues, and his recruiting success and network throughout the Southeast will help us become champions both on and off the field.”
Cronic comes to LR after a successful year at Furman University. The No. 22-ranked Paladins ended the season with an 8-5 overall record and a 6-2 Southern Conference (SoCon) record. The Paladins posted a second place finish in the Southern Conference and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs where they advanced to the second round. The offense finished first in the Southern Conference in scoring with 34 points per game while quarterback P.J. Blazeowski was named 2nd team All-Southern Conference quarterback.
“I am pleased to welcome Drew Cronic along with his wife Amelia and their three boys Noah, Elijah, and Isaiah to the Bear Family,” said Kim Pate, Director of Athletics. “He brings tremendous experience and a true passion for developing young men and preparing them for success in life. He understands how to build a culture of excellence and truly values the student-athlete experience. I feel confident he will build a championship caliber program that will make our campus, community, and alumni very proud.”
Prior to Furman, Cronic served at Reinhardt (Ga.) University for five years where he played a key role in the establishment of Reinhardt football as a startup program beginning in November of 2011. He spent the first three years serving as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and recruiting coordinator and was named head coach following the 2014 campaign. In his first year, he directed the Eagles to a 9-2 record. During fall 2016, he led the Eagles to a 13-1 campaign, Mid-South Conference championship, and semifinal finish in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) playoffs with a squad that averaged 51.1 points and 550.6 yards per game.
In addition to leading the NAIA in scoring and total offense, Reinhardt’s revved up offense topped the country in rushing offense (360.0 ypg) and rushing touchdowns (71) while also boasting the nation’s second highest passing efficiency rating (178.0) and registering 25 touchdown passes. Likewise, the Eagles’ defense finished second nationally in points allowed (13.8 ppg) and sacks (46), and fifth in total defense (283.5 ypg).
In his two seasons as head coach at Reinhardt, Cronic was twice named Mid-South Conference West Division Coach of the Year and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) NAIA Region I Coach of the Year. In 2016, Reinhardt produced 14 all-conference selections and 24 academic all-conference honorees — which were both league highs.
Cronic’s teams also excelled in the classroom as demonstrated by the team posting an impressive 3.11 GPA for the fall 2016 semester and a 3.04 the previous year. Of the 147 student-athletes in the program in the fall of 2016, 97 had a grade point average of 3.0 or better. Of those, 54 had a 3.5 GPA or better, and 18 had a perfect 4.0 GPA. As a team, the Eagles posted a 3.11 GPA for the semester.
Cronic’s move back to his native Georgia followed a nine-year tenure at Furman, where he worked under Coach Bobby Lamb (2002-10) and served in a number of key roles, including wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends coach, as well as recruiting coordinator.
His first Furman tenure was highlighted by several outstanding seasons, including the 2004 Southern Conference Championship (10-3) season and 11-3 campaign in 2005 resulting in the Paladins advancing to the NCAA FCS national semifinals. During this tenure, Furman made four trips to the FCS post-season.
Cronic joined the coaching staff at James Madison as receivers coach and assistant recruiting coordinator in 1999, where he worked for three seasons before heading to Furman in 2002. During 1999, JMU garnered an Atlantic 10 Championship earning a bid to the NCAA 1AA Playoffs.
A native of Sharpsburg, Ga., he played quarterback for his father, Danny Cronic, at East Coweta (Ga.) High School before moving on to the University of Georgia, where he played wide receiver and served on special teams. He lettered twice as a member of the Bulldog program and participated in both the 1995 Peach Bowl and 1997 Outback Bowl.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Georgia, he served as a graduate assistant coach in charge of receivers at West Georgia for the 1998 season and secured his master’s degree in educational leadership in 1999.
"I am so excited to be the head football coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University,” said Cronic. “I feel blessed to have this opportunity at such a tremendous academic institution with great football tradition. I have been so impressed with the people here, and am impressed by the vision Dr. Whitt and Kim Pate share for the Lenoir-Rhyne athletic programs. Starting today, we will put every ounce of our energy into rebuilding a culture of excellence, to achieving success in the classroom, in the weight room, on the field, in relationships, and in life. I can’t wait to get started.”
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT DREW CRONIC
“I want to congratulate Lenoir-Rhyne on their decision to make Drew Cronic their next football coach. I have great admiration for Drew as a man, father, husband and coach. He did a tremendous job for us and we wish him nothing but the best in this great opportunity. He is a winner in every way. I know his influence will be quickly felt by his staff, players and the entire community.”
Clay Hendrix, Head Football Coach
“Drew is a proven competitor, recruiter, and committed mentor of student-athletes who has shown the ability to succeed as a collegiate head coach. I have no doubt that he can lead the Lenoir-Rhyne football program back to the level of success it expects.”
Bobby Lamb, Head Football Coach
“Coach Cronic grew up in the locker room and has developed into a high character family man who is a great molder of young men. He will not only recruit well but will also develop his players into well-rounded members of the community. Lenoir-Rhyne made a great selection in Coach Cronic and I know his players will love playing for him.”
Carroll McCray, Head Football Coach
About Lenoir-Rhyne University:
Lenoir-Rhyne University was founded in 1891 and is a private, Lutheran, coeducational university with its primary campus in Hickory, NC. Academic programs include more than 50 undergraduate majors and nearly 30 graduate programs. Other campus locations include the Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville, NC, the Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia, SC, and the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary also in Columbia. Today, more than 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled across all campuses. Lenoir-Rhyne is affiliated with the NC Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and welcomes students from all religious backgrounds. The website is www.lr.edu.