After assistant coaching stops at Mississippi State, University of Houston and Arizona State, Connor Champion is headed to high school. But it’s a major step up for the former analyst who will now serve as offensive coordinator at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport. “It was easy for me to get complacent not being the guy catching the heat,” Champion said. “I love pressure. I’m excited about getting that heat. I’ve been a support staff guy and haven’t really run an offense. This gives me a chance to grow in that area. And I think this will help me in the long term to become a head coach at the pro or collegiate level. This can eliminate some of the questions about my experience in pressure situations. I would love to coach in the SEC. If I end up elsewhere, that’s the Lord’s plan” Champion was a student assistant coach at Georgetown (Tx.) High School. His mother and father, Joe and Lori Champion, are pastors for Celebration Church, which has campuses in Georgetown, Austin and in Mozambique, Africa. “I was too little to play football,” Connor said. “But I had made a decision then to go into coaching. I knew then I wanted to do this long-term.” Joe played football at Huntington School in Ferriday and walked on at LSU after Southeastern Louisiana dropped football. Joe earned a football scholarship to LSU under Bill Arnsparger and won a spot as long-snapper on field goals. Joe served as ball boy for the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons when his father, Jim Champion, was an assistant coach for both teams. Champion chose to go to Mississippi State over LSU. “It was a difficult decision,” Champion said. “I prayed about it , and just felt it was the right fit for me. I really like Dan Mullen and what he does on offense. I’ve learned a lot already from him.” Conner signaled in offensive plays for Mississippi State, broke down film, and coordinated with quarterback coach Brian Johnson. He helped mentor Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. “I think this is going to be Dak’s breakout year,” Connor said of the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. “People already know he is a great player, but I’m excited about what he can do this year.” Champion moved on from Mississippi to an analyst job at the University of Houston. With an assist from former LSU great Kevin Mawae, who was hired by Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards as an analyst, Champion took a job as analyst at ASU six months ago where he would watch film recruit and would be the person signaling in plays from the sideline. Watching film and recruiting led Champion to visiting with Evangel senior quarterback Blake Shapen. That’s when Pastor Denny Duron, chancellor of Evangel Christian, offered Champion the offensive coordinator job. “I was excited about it,” Champion said. “At the age of 22 to be at a school such as Evangel as offensive coordinator is an overwhelming opportunity for me to grow as a coach and work alongside Pastor Denny. It’s a once in a lifetime deal.” Champion said he enjoyed working with Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards, even if it only lasted six months. “Coach Edwards is as good as it gets,” Champion said. “He’s the same guy you watch on ESPN that he is in the office every day. He has helped me to better understand the game, how to treat players and to treat your players like family. I had also talked with a couple of NFL teams, but when this opportunity came up I could not pass it up. I certainly did not expect it.” Champion worked alongside Arizona State offensive coordinator Rob Likens. “Rob is a phenomenal person and a great guy,” Champion said. The deal with Evangel was also sealed when Champion met with Evangel head coach Byron Dawson. “I was actually kind of blindsided by all of this,” Champion said. “Pastor Denny called me up and asked if I would be interested and now here I am wearing an Evangel shirt.” Evangel defeated Scotlandville 38-6 in 2016 to win the Division I state championship. It marked the 14th state championship for the Eagles. Evangel lost to Catholic of Baton Rouge 14-6 in the semifinals in 2017. The Eagles fell to John Curtis 56-34 in the semifinals last year. Connor said his parents were very helpful in his decision to get into coaching. “Obviously my dad has been able to guide me a lot from the standpoint he grew up in football and has helped me through certain situations,” Connor said. “If something didn’t feel right, he would help me through it and tell me what certain things meant.” Champion is looking forward to working with 6-foot, 183-pound Evangel quarterback Blake Shapen. “Blake is as good as I have seen in this class,” said Champion, who recruited the Southeast for Arizona State. “I’ve never been around a better competitor in my life. He hangs out in my office a lot and I’ve been telling him as much as I can about the collegiate level. He then goes on the field and works extra. He’s also an outstanding baseball player. He’s very competitive. Blake and I have a great relationship.” Champion said he has had positive feedback from Evangel coaches, players and fans. “They are really excited,” he said. “We’re going to be a fast-paced offense, which is the way football is being played now. Everybody loves the movement to the fast pace.” Champion understands the fast pace that has led him to where he is now. “It’s been a crazy journey,” he said. “And I am very humbled and grateful for the opportunity.”
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