High School Sports

Former Spencer, Falcons standout Gary Downs hired at East Tennessee State


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- Former Spencer High standout Gary Downs was named as the running backs coach at East Tennessee State on Wednesday.

East Tennessee is in the process of reviving its football program. The school shut the program down at the end of the 2003 season due to financial reasons. The team is set to hit the field again in September 2015.

"I'm excited to be part of the re-launch of ETSU football," Downs said. "I'm extremely honored to be a member of Coach (Carl) Torbush's staff. I can't wait to be a Buc."

Downs was the head coach at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Ga., for the past three seasons, where he went 10-20.

"We are very fortunate to hire Coach Downs," ETSU head coach Carl Torbush said in a news release. "Gary will not only be a great football coach for the ETSU Bucs, but he will also be an outstanding role model for our young men and the community."

Downs played for ETSU offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain at North Carolina State in the early 1990s. He earned all-ACC honors and as well as academic all-ACC honors. He left the school third all time in rushing touchdowns and 10th in rushing yards.

"What I remember about Gary -- even more than his athleticism -- was the great young man that he was at N.C. State, and we will be fortunate to add a person with that type of integrity and character to our coaching staff," O'Cain said. "He will be a great example for our players, showing them what it takes to be an exceptional player, and more importantly, an exceptional student."

Downs was drafted in 1994 by the New York Giants. He played for three teams in seven seasons before retiring in 2001. He was a special teams player for the Atlanta Falcons in 1998, when they made the Super Bowl.

Downs began his coaching career as running backs coach at Riverside in 2003. He was the offenbsive coordinator from 2004-06. The team won the GISA state title in 2005 and played in the state semifinals in 2004 and '06.

He went on to be the offensive coordinator at Mount Pisgah from 2007-11. Downs also coached one season in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals.