Navy head football coach Brian Newberry announced that Grant Chesnut has been hired as the offensive coordinator. Chesnut comes to Navy from Kennesaw State where he has been the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach since 2014. Chesnut will also coach the offensive line at Navy.
Newberry also announced that quarterbacks coach Ivin Jasper, offensive line coach Ashley Ingram and wide receivers coach Mick Yokitis will return. Additionally, Ingram has been promoted to assistant head coach and Jasper will add the fullbacks to his coaching duties. Marcus Thomas will move from director of player personnel to offensive assistant, while Jason MacDonald will assume an off-the-field role involving recruiting. Navy still has the slot back and tight end positions to fill on the offensive side of the football.
“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Grant Chesnut and his family to Navy,” said Newberry. “I spoke with several candidates throughout the process to find the right person to lead our offense and I kept coming back to Coach Chesnut. He is an outstanding coach and person and has all the qualities that I was looking for. He will bring an edge and a toughness, as well as the creativity to adapt and evolve our offense.”
“I would like to thank Brian Newberry and Chet Gladchuk for this incredible opportunity and for their belief in me,” said Chesnut. “It is a tremendous honor and privilege to work with our country’s best young men and women. Coach Newberry is a gifted leader and I am ecstatic to be a part of his vision for the Naval Academy football program. I will work tirelessly to serve the young men in our program and help them maximize their talents both on and off the field. The Naval Academy is a special place; we will make the Navy football family and all associated with the Naval Academy proud. Go Navy! Beat Everyone!”
Chesnut has been at Kennesaw State since 2013 when the program was started under former Navy assistant Brian Bohannon. Behind a spread option offense, the Owls have produced impressive offensive numbers that have helped Kennesaw State to an overall record of 68-24 and five wins in the FCS playoffs.
Kennesaw State has ranked in the top three in the FCS in rushing offense in six of the last seven years, including leading the nation in 2017 and 2019. The Owls set the program record with 352.9 rushing yards per game on the ground in 2018, which was good for second in the nation
In 2021, Chesnut’s offense ranked third in the FCS in rushing yards per game and helped produce All-American quarterback Xavier Shepherd. With Chesnut’s play calling, Shepherd led the FCS in rushing touchdowns with 23 and also set school records for passing yards in a season (1,341), passing touchdowns in a season (15) and passing touchdowns in a single game (4).
Shepherd was named a STATS Perform FCS First Team All-American, HERO Sports First-Team All-American and Associated Press Third-Team All-American.
After losing 10 of 11 starters on offense from the 2018 team, Chesnut’s biggest challenge came in 2019 and he did not disappoint, leading Kennesaw State to the No. 7 scoring offense in the country at 37.9 points per game and the No. 1 rushing attack in the nation at 342.4 yards per contest. The Owls set the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 58 as KSU recorded its third-straight 11-win season and made a third-straight appearance in the FCS Playoffs where it knocked off No. 11 Wofford in the opening round.
Chesnut’s young offensive line grew up over the course of the 2019 season and blocked for a rushing offense that recorded 400+ rushing yards in a game four times, including a season-high 490 yards against North Alabama.
Led by back-to-back Big South Offensive Player of the Year and Walter Payton runner-up Chandler Burks, the Owls racked up 5,902 yards of total offense in 2018, their second-straight season with over 5,500 yards of offense.
KSU’s 2018 success came off a 2017 season in which the Owls ran for an FCS-leading 330.2 yards per game, finishing second in the country in total offense (435.1 yards) and touchdowns (53), all while limiting turnovers to tout the nation’s best turnover margin (1.64).
In the much-anticipated 2015 inaugural season, KSU rolled from the get-go, putting up the fifth-highest single-season rushing yards (3,398) in Big South history, rushing for five 300-yard games on the year. The Owls’ offense scored 56 points at East Tennessee State in KSU’s inaugural game.
A native of Snellville, Ga., Chesnut has been associated with winning programs throughout his career, and prior to taking over as head coach at Central High School he was recognized by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as one of the Top 10 Hires of 2011. His 2013 squad at Central advanced to the Georgia state playoffs for the first time in 10 years.
Chesnut was the offensive coordinator, offensive line and strength and conditioning coach at Class AAA Mary Persons from 2007-10, the defensive line coach at Camden County High School (2005-06), the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Thomasville High School (2002-04) and the offensive line coach at Pickens County High School (1999). Chesnut also was a defensive line coach at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. for two seasons (2000 and 2001), where the Blue Hose went a combined 15-6 (.714).
Chesnut earned a bachelor’s degree in social science education from Georgia Southern in 1999 and a master’s in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2004.
During his junior and senior seasons as an offensive tackle at Georgia Southern where he played for former Navy head coach Paul Johnson, Chesnut was part of Eagle teams that won the Southern Conference Championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs in 1997 and advanced to the 1998 NCAA National Championship game, finishing the year with a 14-1 record.
Chesnut, who played high school football at Brookwood High School in Snellville, is married to the former Heather Harris. The couple has three daughters – Brin, Allie Grace and Eva Claire.