Defensive Coaching Staff

Justin Deason | Defensive Coordinator

Justin Deason joined the University of the Incarnate Word football program as the defensive coordinator in the spring of 2018.
 
In his first season, the Cardinals had the most successful year in program history, marked by a Southland Conference championship and an FCS Playoffs berth. UIW was 1-10 overall and 1-7 in SLC action in 2017, resulting in one of the best turnarounds in program history when the Cardinals posted a 6-4 record in 2018 (six wins ties the program record).
 
Following the conclusion of UIW’s regular season (week 11), the Cardinals led the FCS with 29 turnovers forced. UIW recorded at least one turnover in every game played, including the playoffs, for the first time in program history. The turnover streak sits at 12 consecutive games following the 2018 season.
 
Of these 29 turnovers, 18 were interceptions, breaking the previous program record of 16 picks, set in 2011.
 
The defensive highlight of the season came against Sam Houston State on Nov. 1, when UIW forced a program-record seven turnovers. These seven turnovers in a single game also led the SLC in 2018. Additionally, the Cardinals recorded four interceptions at Central Arkansas (Nov. 10), setting the program record for picks in a single game.
 
Deason comes to UIW from Texas A&M-Commerce, where he spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator. Deason helped guide the Lions to a National Championship in 2017.
 
In 2017, under Deason, the Lions’ defense was in the nations’ top 30 in several categories. The Lions had the 15th best scoring defense in Division II, allowing just 16.7 points per game. Deason’s defense also was 9th in the country in interceptions (19), 11th in defensive passing efficiency, 13th in tackles for loss per game (8.5), 20th in red zone defense and sacks, 25th in turnovers gained (25), total defense (303.4 yards per game) and third down defense (32.8 percent).
 
Under Deason, Yusef Sterling-Lowe was named a second team All-American by both the AFCA and D2Football.com. In addition, three Lions were named first team All-LSC, four were named second team All-LSC and four were named honorable mention All-LSC. Deason’s defense was one of the best in the state of Texas. Of all scholarship schools in the state, no team gave up fewer points per game than the Lions, a feat that led to a scoring margin of 20.4 points per game The Lions also had the best red zone touchdown defense and recorded more sacks (45.0) than any other Texas school.
 
During the 2016 season under Deason, the Lion defense led the nation in turnovers, recording 38 takeaways in 12 games. The team also led the Lone Star Conference and was second in the nation in defensive touchdowns with seven. Additionally, the team was second in the nation in turnover margin, finishing the season with a +24 advantage. The Lions ranked fourth in the nation in interceptions with 23 and eighth in the nation in fumble recoveries with 15. The team was also 23rd in the nation in red zone defense.
 
Deason's group led the LSC in scoring defense (21.7 points per game) and was second in the conference in third down defense. Under Deason, Uriah Harris was named LSC Defensive Back of the Year. Harris was joined by Tavita Faaiu on the first team All-LSC list. Eight more defenders were named to the All-LSC honorable mention team.
 
In the 2015 season, Deason’s unit led the NCAA in team tackles for loss, averaging 10.8 per game.  Defensive lineman Toni Pulu became the second-straight Lion to earn the LSC Defensive Player of the Year award at the conclusion of the season.  Deason also guided 10 different Lions to All-LSC honors following the season.
 
Deason’s squad had the third best scoring defense in the Lone Star Conference, allowing only 29.5 points per game. Pulu was third in the league in sacks per game (.68). Linebacker Charles Woods ranked 12th in the NCAA and second in the LSC with 12.0 tackles per game.
 
In 2013, Deason coached the Lone Star Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in defensive lineman Charles Tuaau.
 
Deason came to Commerce from East Central University, where he spent the last five seasons as the Tigers' defensive coordinator. In 2011, his defensive unit ranked 15th in the nation in fumble recoveries (16) and third down defense, with opponents converting just 30.9 percent of the time. East Central also ranked 18th in turnovers forced (31), 20th in turnover margin and 43rd in total defense.
 
He coached three defensive All-Americans his final three years, including defensive end Armonty Bryant in 2010 and 2012, outside linebacker Jason Catchings in 2012 and cornerback Dontae Smith in 2011. Deason also worked with back-to-back conference defensive players of the year in Bryant (Lone Star Conference North in 2010) and Catchings (Great American Conference in 2011).
 
In 2012, Deason had nine players earn All-GAC honors, while seven earned the honors in 2011.  The list includes back-to-back honors for Bryant, Catchings, Brian Gonzalez and Norris Wrenn. Wrenn finished his career as the all-time leading tackler at East Central, breaking the record set by NFL player Clifford Thirft in 1978 with 278 career tackles.
 
Deason was also key in developing the Tigers first NFL Draft pick since 1979 when Bryant was chosen as the No. 217 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2013 NFL Draft. Bryant was just the fifth player from ECU to be drafted into the NFL after setting the ECU career sacks record with 27.5.
 
Deason was instrumental in ECU’s run to a Lone Star Conference North Division title in 2010, guiding a Tiger defensive unit led by Bryant, who was third in the nation in sacks (led all defensive linemen in the country), along with all-region performer and cornerback Dontae Smith.
 
Bryant and Smith -- who led the LSC with six interceptions (two of which he returned for touchdowns) -- were first team All-LSC North selections while four others -- end Travis Buchanan, safety Norris Wrenn and outside linebackers Tyler McGrew and Jameel Whitney -- were named to the All-LSC North second team.
 
His 2010 Tiger defensive unit was ranked 13th in the nation in sacks per game (3.09) and tied for 21st in total passes intercepted (17). ECU also led the LSC in sacks, interceptions and turnovers gained. The Tigers scored seven defensive touchdowns in 2010 and registered their first shutout since the 1993 season.
 
Since joining NCAA Division II, Deason’s 2010 defense set the record for sacks (33) and interceptions (17) in a season and tied the mark for forcing turnovers (28).
 
Deason had a prior coaching stint at ECU from 2004-05 as special teams coordinator and linebackers coach. He coached five all-conference players and one All-American. He had the preseason linebacker of the year in 2005, a punt returner who finished 10th nationally in 2005 and a punter who was ranked 12th nationally. The net punting for ECU in 2005 was 35th best in the country and his kickoff unit was among the best in 2004, holding opponents to limited yards in net returns.
 
At West Texas A&M in 2006, Deason coached four all-conference players and saw one of his linebackers make three different postseason All-America teams. The WT kickoff unit ranked 30th in the country, a punter ranked fifth in per punt average and a punt returner finished 17th in the nation in per return average. One kickoff specialist finished 19th in the nation and a punt team was 13th nationally in net punt coverage.
 
In 2007 with the Buffs, Deason had a kicker set two school records and went on to earn a spot in the Cactus Bowl all-star game. He also had a specialist lead the nation in return average. His special teams ranked 13th in the nation in kickoff defense and one of his linebackers earned All-Southwest Region honors and was named to two different All-America Teams. He also had a linebacker awarded the preseason and postseason linebacker of the year.
 
With WT in 2008, his specialty teams were ranked among the best in the nation. A pair of return specialists garnered All-Lone Star Conference South honors while one of his linebackers picked up an All-American award. The same linebacker was voted preseason and postseason linebacker of the year. The team finished second nationally in net punting. The kickoff returner was 27th in the country and his punter, Cort Johnson, finished with an average of 43.1 yards and went on to play for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. One of Deason’s recruits, defensive end Eugene Sims, was selected as conference defensive lineman of the year and was selected in the 2010 draft by the St. Louis Rams. WT also finished with 12 blocked kicks. Deason was part of a 34-5 run and several national rankings by the Buffs.
 
Deason played two seasons as a linebacker at Oklahoma State. He was a two-year letterman at OSU and helped the Cowboys to a victory in the Houston Bowl. Deason played in both of OSU’s wins over top-ranked and Bedlam rival Oklahoma. He also made appearances against highly-ranked teams in Nebraska, UCLA, Texas A&M and Texas. His mentor is long time defensive coordinator Bill Clay.
 
Deason received a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in secondary administration – with a 3.9 GPA -- from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2003.
 
Deason and his wife, Autumn, have two sons, Jaxon and Aboss, and a daughter, Aubrey.


Brandon Lechtenberg | Linebackers Coach/Special Teams Coordinator

Brandon Lechtenberg joined the University of the Incarnate Word football staff in the spring of 2018. He is the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach.
 
Lechtenberg helped coach one of the best turnarounds in the FCS in 2018 as the Cardinals went from a 1-10 overall record in 2017 to a 6-4 regular season mark, a Southland Conference Championship and an FCS Playoff berth.
 
Following the conclusion of UIW’s regular season (week 11), the Cardinals led the FCS with 29 turnovers gained. UIW recorded at least one turnover in every game played, including the playoffs, for the first time in program history. The turnover streak sits at 12 consecutive games following the 2018 season.
 
Of these 29 turnovers, 18 were interceptions. This broke the previous program record of 16 picks, set in 2011.
 
The defensive highlight of the season came against Sam Houston State on Nov. 1, when UIW forced a program-record seven turnovers. These seven turnovers also led the SLC in 2018. The Cardinals also recorded four interceptions at Central Arkansas (Nov. 10), setting the program record for picks in a single game.
 
Prior to UIW, Lechtenberg spent the 2017 season as the safeties coach at UT Martin. In one season, the Skyhawk defense quickly elevated to one of the top defenses in the FCS. In addition to finishing fourth in the nation in scoring defense, sixth in total defense, and first in redzone defense, two of Lechenberg’s three safeties finished with All-Ohio Valley Conference honors.
 
With his guidance, the Skyhawks led the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring defense and ranked second in total defense. Under his tutelage, Lechtenberg’s safeties ranked second in the conference in passing defense. The Skyhawks were also third in the league with 11 interceptions for 112 yards.
 
Before UT Martin, Lechtenberg served as defensive coordinator at Millsaps College (2011-16). He consistently led the Majors defense to the top, or near the top, of the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) in every major defensive category. Lechtenberg’s defensive unit led the SAA in both total defense and scoring defense in 2012 and 2013.
 
The Majors produced the Defensive Player of the Year in the SAA in 2012 and 2013 and saw seven defensive players earn All-SAA honors in 2016, including three first team performers.
 
Prior to Millsaps, Lechtenberg served as a graduate assistant coach at Texas Christian University from 2009-11. He spent the 2010 season as a defensive graduate assistant after spending two seasons working in video.
 
Lechtenberg started his coaching career at the high school level. From 2007-08, he was the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for Central City High School in Central City, Nebraska. Before that, he served from 2005-07 at North Star High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, as the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator.
 
A native of Butte, Nebraska, Lechtenberg earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and a master’s degree from TCU. He is married to Dee Anna Lechtenberg and the couple has one daughter, Irene Lechtenberg.


Brett Watson | Interior Defensive Line/Academic Coordinator

Brett Watson joined the University of the Incarnate Word coaching staff as the defensive tackles coach and camps coordinator in the spring of 2018.
 
Watson was part of a staff that engineered one of the best turnarounds in the FCS in 2018. Helping lead the Cardinals from a 1-10 overall record in 2017 to a 6-4 regular season mark, a Southland Conference Championship and an FCS Playoff berth.
 
Following the conclusion of UIW’s regular season (week 11), the Cardinals led the FCS with 29 turnovers gained. UIW recorded at least one turnover in every game played, including the playoffs, for the first time in program history. The turnover streak sits at 12 consecutive games following the 2018 season.
 
Of these 29 turnovers, 18 were interceptions, breaking the previous program record of 16 picks, set in the 2011 season.
 
The defensive highlight of the season came against Sam Houston State on Nov. 1, when UIW forced a program-record seven turnovers. These seven turnovers also led the SLC in 2018. The Cardinals also recorded four interceptions at Central Arkansas (Nov. 10), setting the program record for picks in a single game.
 
Prior to UIW, Watson spent two seasons at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. During the 2017 season, he was the defensive line coach and the junior college recruiting coordinator. He coached the linebackers in 2016.
 
In 2017, Watson helped guide SOSU to a 7-4 record with a 4-2 mark in the Great American Conference. The Savage Storm recorded 791 tackles with 53 tackles for loss and 15 sacks.
 
Watson’s 2016 squad tallied a 7-4 record. Defensively, the team had 743 tackles with 66 tackles for loss and 19 sacks. The Savage Storm had 52 pass breakups, 16 quarterback hurries, and 14 fumble recoveries.
 
Before Southeastern Oklahoma State, Watson spent three seasons at West Texas A&M, his alma mater, where he served as the assistant head coach and worked with the defensive line; he was also the recruiting coordinator and the team's NFL liaison.
 
Before his most recent stint at WTAMU he spent the 2012 season at East Central. There, he handled the defensive line as well as recruiting and academics.
 
He spent the spring of 2012 with West Alabama coaching the defensive line. From 2009 through February 2012 he worked for the West Texas A&M, first as a graduate assistant handling strength and conditioning before taking over the defensive line for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
 
He has coached 16 student-athletes along the defensive line who have earned all-conference honors, five who have garnered All-American accolades, and seven who went on to play in the NFL.
 
Watson played at West Texas A&M from 2006-09.
 
He graduated from West Texas A&M with a bachelor’s in sports and exercise science with a minor in social science in 2009. He earned a master’s of science -- with an emphasis in sport management -- in May of 2011.


Darren Garrigan | Pass Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs

Darren Garrigan joined the University of the Incarnate Word football program as the cornerbacks coach in the spring of 2018. In addition, Garrigan is the camps coordinator and the NFL Liaison for the Cardinals.
 
Garrigan helped the UIW staff engineer one of the best turnarounds in the FCS in 2018. The Cardinals went from a 1-10 overall record in 2017 to a 6-4 regular season mark, a Southland Conference Championship, and an FCS Playoff berth.
 
Following the conclusion of UIW’s regular season (week 11), the Cardinals led the FCS with 29 turnovers gained. UIW recorded at least one turnover in every game played, including the playoffs, for the first time in program history. The turnover streak sits at 12 consecutive games following the 2018 season.
 
Of these 29 turnovers, 18 were interceptions. This broke the previous program record of 16 picks, set in 2011.
 
The defensive highlight of the season came against Sam Houston State on Nov. 1, when UIW forced a program-record seven turnovers. These seven turnovers also led the SLC in 2018. The Cardinals also recorded four interceptions at Central Arkansas (Nov. 10), setting the program record for picks in a single game.
 
Prior to UIW, Garrigan spent four seasons as the secondary coach at Texas A&M Commerce. In four seasons, Garrigan tutored a secondary that was not only at the top of the Lone Star Conference, but was also one of the top in the country. He helped produced 14 all-conference players, three all-region players, one LSC Defensive Back of the Year and one All-American. In four seasons, the Lion defense intercepted 71 passes, caused 185 pass breakups and scored 12 defensive touchdowns.
 
During the 2017 National Championship season, the Lions had one of the top secondaries in the country. The team ranked 11th in the nation in opponent passing efficiency, 15th in scoring defense (16.7 points per game), 20th in red zone defense and ninth in interceptions (19). Eleven Lions recorded interceptions. The scoring defense was the best average in Texas among all scholarship programs.
 
Four defensive backs were named to the all-conference team in 2017. The most decorated was Yusef Sterling-Lowe, who was named a second team All-American by both the AFCA and D2Football.com in addition to his first team All-LSC selection. Alex Shillow and Chris Smith were both named second team All-LSC, while Darent White earned honorable mention accolades.
 
During the 2017 offseason, Garrigan was selected for the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, where he spent time working in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. He assisted with training camp and the first pre-season game with Kansas City. This was the second consecutive year Garrigan was selected to participate. During his first year, Garrigan worked with the Detroit Lions.
 
In 2016, the Lions led the LSC and were fourth in the nation with 23 interceptions. Nine different defensive backs recorded at least one interception. This bolstered a Lion defense that led all programs in the nation with 38 takeaways. Reggie Kincade also boosted the turnover effort, ranking seventh in the nation in fumble recoveries. The Lions led the conference and were second in the nation with seven defensive touchdowns. They also led the conference in scoring defense. Yusef Sterling-Lowe had a team-high four interceptions and ranked first in the LSC with two interception returns for touchdowns.
 
Under Garrigan, Uriah Harris earned LSC Defensive Back of the Year and received second team all-region and first team All-LSC honors in 2016. That same season, Sterling-Lowe and Trey Porter received All-LSC honorable mention recognition.
 
In 2014 and 2015 the Lions led the conference in interceptions, takeaways and passing efficiency defense.
 
Garrigan has mentored six NFL defensive backs and three CFL defensive backs in his career.
 
Garrigan joined A&M-Commerce from East Central University where he spent two seasons as the Tigers' secondary coach. In both 2012 and 2013, Garrigan helped the Tigers lead the conference in takeaways, ranking in the top 15 nationally. The Tigers also ranked in the top 25 in interceptions in 2012. He mentored three All-Americans and six all-conference players. The secondary racked up 48 pass breakups, 25 interceptions, 4 return touchdowns and 463 tackles.
 
Prior to his college coaching career, Garrigan worked at Freedom HS in Woodbridge, Virginia, where he was the assistant head coach and tutored the FHS defensive backs, mentoring three all-conference players and helping guide multiple student-athletes to scholarships to play college football.
 
As a player, Garrigan was a two-year starter at defensive back for West Texas A&M, where he was part of Don Carthel's first recruiting class. He helped lead the Buffaloes to the Lone Star Conference championship in back-to-back seasons (2005-06) and was 21-4 during that span.
 
Prior to West Texas A&M he played football at Lackawanna College where he was a preseason All-American and was team MVP for his sophomore season (2004).
 
Following his time at WT, Garrigan played two seasons in the arena league for the Alabama Vipers, and was a starting member of the Vipers' league-championship squad in 2008. He also had a short stint in the CFL.
 
Garrigan was the defensive coordinator of the D2 vs. NAIA All-Star Game in 2013.
 
A native of Dale City, Virginia, Garrigan earned his associate's degree in business studies from Lackawanna College in 2005. He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from West Texas A&M in 2009 and a master’s in sports administration from East Central University in 2013.


Steve Foley | Defensive Ends Coach

Steve Foley joined the University of the Incarnate Word football program as the defensive ends coach in the spring of 2018.
 
Foley helped coach one of the best turnarounds in the FCS in 2018 as the Cardinals went from a 1-10 overall record in 2017 to a 6-4 regular season mark, a Southland Conference Championship, and an FCS Playoff berth.
 
Following the conclusion of UIW’s regular season (week 11), the Cardinals led the FCS with 29 turnovers gained. UIW recorded at least one turnover in every game played, including the playoffs, for the first time in program history. The turnover streak sits at 12 consecutive games following the 2018 season.
 
Of these 29 turnovers, 18 were interceptions. This broke the previous program record of 16 picks, set in 2011. Defensive lineman Darrius Montgomery recorded two of those interceptions, returning one for a 52-yard touchdown.
 
The defensive highlight of the season came against Sam Houston State on Nov. 1, when UIW forced a program-record seven turnovers. These seven turnovers also led the SLC in 2018. The Cardinals also recorded four interceptions at Central Arkansas (Nov. 10), setting the program record for picks in a single game.
 
Prior to UIW, Foley spent one season as the volunteer assistant coach at the University of Louisiana Monroe.
 
Before ULM, Foley played in the NFL for seven seasons. While in the NFL, he split time between the Cincinnati Bengals (1998-2001), the Houston Texans (2003) and the San Diego Chargers (2004-05).
 
Foley played collegiately at ULM, where he still holds the single-season records for sacks (18.5) and tackles for loss (26.5). His 18.5 sacks in 1997 also led the nation. After graduation, the Bengals drafted Foley in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft.