ETSU names Tre Lamb football head coach

Published 3:18 pm Monday, November 27, 2023

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University Director of Athletics Dr. Richard Sander announced on Monday the hiring of Tre Lamb as ETSU’s next football head coach.

 “I am very excited that Tre Lamb is going to lead our program into the future,” said Dr. Sander. “We completed a very extensive and wide-ranging search. The amount of interest spoke volumes about what very successful coaches think about the potential of ETSU football. As we vetted candidates and talked to people in the inner circle of college football, it became very clear that Tre Lamb was one the most exciting, young successful coaches in the country.

 “For me, it was extremely important to have someone with successful head coaching experience and who knows how to recruit at our level and be able to navigate the transfer portal. Coach Lamb has done both. He checks every box that I created when I was developing the right profile. Everybody needs to get on board because great things are ahead for ETSU football.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I want to thank to our search committee David Blackburn, Dr. Brian Johnston and Kay Lennon-McGrew, as we were able to move quickly and reach an agreement with a championship coach. I have absolutely no doubt that Coach Lamb will lead our program back to competing for championships and advancing in the NCAA Playoffs. Coach Lamb will do it the right way with a genuine concern for the student-athletes as individuals.” 

Lamb, the 20th head coach in Buccaneer history, comes to ETSU after spending the last four seasons as the head coach at Gardner-Webb where he led the Running’ Bulldogs to back-to-back conference championships and FCS playoff appearances. 

“I am thrilled to welcome Coach Tre Lamb and his family to ETSU,” said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. “Coach Lamb brings an incredible blend of energy and proven experience that aligns perfectly with our vision for Buccaneer football. His track record as a head coach demonstrates 

his ability to guide and motivate teams to achieve greatness on and off the playing field. I extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. Richard Sander and the search committee for their efforts in recruiting such a highly qualified candidate. Coach Lamb’s appointment marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for ETSU football, and we look forward to the journey ahead.”

During his time at Gardner-Webb, Lamb saw the Runnin’ Bulldogs go a perfect 5-0 in Big South Conference play in 2022 and post a 5-1 mark in league play this past season in the Big South/OVC Football Association. The 2022 Big South Coach of the Year led the Runnin’ Bulldogs to their first-ever win in the FCS Playoffs as Gardner-Webb defeated Eastern Kentucky, 52-41 on Nov. 26, 2022, in Richmond, Ky. The conference title was Gardner-Webb’s first in 20 years and the school’s first playoff appearance since 1992. 

“I want to thank Dr. Noland and Doc Sander for the opportunity to lead a proud ETSU football program in the Southern Conference,” said Lamb. “The pieces are in place to compete immediately and make an impact in the Tri-Cities area. I want our players to work extremely hard on and off the field. We want to build a blue-collar brand that attracts the best student-athletes from high school programs in the Southeast as well as the transfer portal. It is important that we create a culture that retains players and builds relationships with them. The community support is important to me and my new staff and team. Johnson City is a great place to live and raise my family. I believe we will do great things and compete for national championships!” 

Lamb’s air raid offense led the Big South in total points scored (418), touchdowns scored (56), total offense (441.5), offensive touchdowns (55), completion percentage (63.4) and passing completions (281) during the 2022 championship season. In addition to going undefeated in conference play, the Runnin’ Bulldogs scored over 40 points in three of their five Big South games and went over 35 points in four of those contests. The 2022 team also took a pair of FBS opponents to the wire as Lamb’s team played Liberty to a 21-20 decision and Coastal Carolina to a 31-27 contest.

This 2023 season, the Runnin’ Bulldogs earned a share of the first-ever Big South/OVC championship, marking the first time Gardner-Webb won back-to-back conference championships since 2002-03. Lamb’s squad started the year ranked No. 24 in the AFCA Preseason Coaches Poll and No. 25 in the STATS Perform Poll – the first time the Runnin’ Bulldogs were ranked in the coaches poll since Oct. 5, 2013. Gardner-Webb won its last five regular season games, including a 38-34 win over No. 13 UT Martin on Oct. 28. Gardner-Webb averaged over 37 points per game during that win streak which helped secure them a spot in the FCS Playoffs for a second straight year. The team ranked third in the conference in scoring and second in total defense (333.5) and rushing defense (111.3).

Lamb made his head coaching debut with Gardner-Webb on Feb. 27, 2021 when the Runnin’ Bulldogs defeated No. 24 Elon, 42-20. Gardner-Webb finished 2-2 in the abbreviated spring season and Lamb was just the second coach in program history (since 1970) to finish .500 or better in his first season at the helm. Following the 2021 campaign, Lamb was featured as one of the AFCA’s top young coaches in the country.

Lamb coached 38 all-conference players during his time at Gardner-Webb, including the offensive and defensive player of the years in 2022.

“I want to thank Gardner-Webb for giving me a shot at being a head coach and I cannot wait to see the direction of the football program there,” said Lamb. “I am proud of what we accomplished at Gardner-Webb and that we left it with a winning culture.”

Football is in the Lamb family bloodlines with his father, Hal, guiding Calhoun (Ga.) High to three state titles. His grandfather, Ray, won three state championships during a career which featured stops at Warren County (Ga.) High, Commerce (Ga.) High and Monroe Area (Ga.) High. His uncle, Bobby Lamb, has more than 100 wins and four national playoff appearances during a Division I coaching career at Furman and Mercer. Bobby is the current head coach at Anderson University in South Carolina.

Prior to Gardner-Webb, Lamb served as an offensive coordinator at Tennessee Tech during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Lamb helped guide the Golden Eagles to one of the largest turnarounds in 2019. After Tennessee Tech combined for two wins in 2017 and 2018, the Golden Eagles won six games during the 2019 campaign. In the 2019 season-opening win over Samford, Tennessee Tech totaled 671 yards of total offense in the 59-58 victory. During the season, Tennessee Tech went on to score 30 or more points five times en route to finishing second in the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring offense (29.0 ppg) and offensive plays (893). 

Lamb started his coaching career at Tennessee Tech where he was the quarterbacks coach in 2013. Following the 2013 season, Lamb went to Mercer where served the same role from 2014-17. During his stint in Macon, Ga., Lamb mentored John Russ to an outstanding career and helped freshman Kaelan Riley to a spot on the Jerry Rice Award Watch List and Southern Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2017. 

Lamb played quarterback at Tennessee Tech from 2009-2012 and served as team captain for his final three seasons. He led the Golden Eagles to an OVC title in 2011 – the program’s first since 1975 – and the school’s first appearance in the FCS Playoffs. During that championship campaign, Lamb led an offense that set nine school records, including single-season marks for points scored (355), scoring average (32.3) and first downs in a season (238). He graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, education and exercise science.

The program’s Robert Hill Johnson Award winner, Lamb set three individual school records himself in 2011, establishing new marks for single-game attempts and completions and the single-season record for total offense with 2,555 yards. He finished his career with 5,301 passing yards, which ranks third in program history. He passed for a school-record 481 yards vs. Southeast Missouri State as a senior.

Lamb played for his father, Hal, at Calhoun (Ga.) High before joining the college ranks, posting a 21-4 record as a starter under center. A first-team All-State selection in 2007, he passed for 2,232 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior.

He and his wife, Carter, are the proud parents of two daughters – Olivia James and Drew Nix. 

A press conference to formerly introduce Lamb will be held on Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. The press conference will be held in the first floor club room inside Ramsey Tower.