Graham Johnsen speaks during Friday's press conference.
Geneseo grad takes over head coaching reins at Mansfield
MANSFIELD — Graham Johnsen, a veteran of 12-years of coaching at the collegiate level including stints as an assistant coach for the Mountaineers, was named the 24th full-time head football coach in Mansfield University’s 120-year football history during a press conference Friday morning.
Johnsen, a Geneseo Central School graduate, takes over the reins of the Mountaineer program after serving his second stint as assistant head coach at Mansfield during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
“Graham Johnsen has 12 years of collegiate coaching experience including stints at the NCAA Division I, II, III and sprint football levels,” said Mansfield University Interim President Dr. Allan Golden as he introduced Johnsen in front of a large gathering of players, coaches, fans and university staff. “His experience, along with strong support from current members of our football program, as well as former players, makes him the best candidate to head our football program.”
During the 2003 season, Johnsen was the Mountaineer special teams coordinator as well as wide receivers, running backs, and kicking coach. In that role, he helped Mansfield to an 8-3 record under then head coach Chris Woods.
For the past two seasons, Johnsen served as the assistant head coach for the Mountaineers with responsibilities as the passing game, special teams, and strength and conditioning coordinator. During that time, he has helped Mansfield to a pair two 2-5 seasons highlighted by a near upset of undefeated Navy in 2011.
Twice during the past two seasons, Johnsen has served short terms as the Mountaineers interim head coach.
“I am humbled as I stand before you today,” said Johnsen, at Friday’s press conference. “In the coming weeks, we will begin to lay the foundation of this program. We will build this program the right way, and hold ourselves and the players to a higher standard of excellence on and off the field. We hope to establish a program as respected as the program’s developed by Coach Woods, Coach Elsasser and other Mountaineer coaches who have come before us.”
A native of Geneseo, Johnsen earned his bachelor’s degree in sport administration from the University of Southern Mississippi where he was a member of the Golden Eagles football team as a punter. Playing under head coach Jeff Bower, Johnsen was a member of two Conference USA championship teams and finished the 1997 season with a 41-7 victory over Pittsburgh in the Liberty Bowl.
After Southern Miss, Johnsen was a graduate assistant coach at the University of Tennessee under former Volunteer head coach Phillip Fulmer. He earned his Masters of Art degree in sport management from the University of Tennessee in 2001.
During his time at Tennessee, Johnsen was a member of a coaching staff that produced two AP & USA Today top 25 teams and played in the Fiesta and Cotton Bowls.
Prior to returning to Mansfield in 2010, Johnsen served as the defensive line, special teams, and kicking coach for NCAA Division III Wittenberg University in Ohio. Before Wittenberg, Johnsen worked as an assistant at two NCAA Division I FCS schools in St. Francis University (PA) (2005-07) and Nicholls State University (LA) (2004-05).
Previous to his initial tour of duty at Mansfield, Johnsen was the special teams and recruiting coordinator at Fairfield University in Connecticut.
Mansfield has sponsored a varsity football program since 1891, competing at the NCAA Division II level from 1983 to 2006. After dropping football at the completion of the 2006 season, Mansfield through a determined effort by alumni, reintroduced the sport at the sprint football level in 2008.
Sprint football is collegiate varsity that features the same number of positions and rules as every collegiate football program in the nation with the exception of a 172-pound weight limit on player’s 48-hours before kickoff.
Mansfield is a member of the Collegiate Sprint Football League, one of the most exclusive collegiate football leagues in the nation. As a member of the CSFL, Mansfield competes against Army, Cornell, Navy, Pennsylvania, Post University, Princeton and starting as a probationary member this year Franklin Pierce.
Mansfield opens the 2012 season at Princeton University on Friday, Sept. 14.