Head Coach E.J. Mills
Two of the past three NESCAC Coach of the Year honors have gone to E.J. Mills, who has led the Lord Jeffs to a 22-2 record and two undefeated seasons since 2009 as one of the top coaches and defensive minds in the country.
Entering his 20th season on the Amherst sidelines and 16th as head coach, Mills has been a part of 108 victories for the Purple and White. He came to Amherst in 1993 and served as a defensive coordinator through the 1996 season, working with former Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki to help the Lord Jeffs improve their record in each of his four years as an assistant. When Siedlecki made his move to lead the Bulldogs, Mills was named the interim head coach for the 1997 season and has been at the helm ever since.
The Lord Jeffs finished at 7-1 three times during Mills' first 12 seasons, but Amherst broke through in 2009 by posting its first 8-0 record since 1984. The postseason awards poured in for Mills, whose honors included an American Football Coaches Association Division III Region 1 Coach of the Year selection. The Lord Jeffs achieved perfection again in 2011, notably leading the league in scoring offense (29.9 ppg), turnover margin (+9) and sacks (28) en route to 13 All-Conference selections and another NESCAC Coach of the Year honor for Mills.
While leading the Jeffs to an 88-32 record as head coach, Mills has witnessed several of the region’s best football players come through Amherst. Under Mills’ reign the program has produced three NESCAC Offensive Players of the Year and three Defensive Players of the Year. Eighteen Amherst players have earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for excellence in the classroom and on the playing field, with two also being named Academic All-Americans.
Notably, defensive lineman Devin Moriarty ’98 was selected by the American Football Coaches Association as a Division III All-American in addition to being named the ECAC Player of the Year. Brian Daoust ’01 and Pat McGee ’02 were also named All-Americans, while Fletcher Ladd ’05—the school’s all-time leading rusher—was the 2004 ECAC Northeast Player of the Year. In 2011, Kevin Ferber '12 became the program's first-ever D3football.com All-America First Team selection.
In addition to coaching countless All-NESCAC and ECAC All-Star selections, Mills has coached some of the country’s finest student-athletes and citizens. Most notable is former defensive back Paul Whiting ’04, who in 2003 was the first ever non-Division I winner of the CSTV National Student-Athlete of the Week honor. In 2002 he was given the DeOrmand “Tuss” McLaughry Award as an outstanding scholar-athlete in Western Massachusetts. Whiting was also named the 2004 Woody Hayes National Scholar-Athlete of the Year for displaying excellence in academics, athletics and community service.
The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston has recognized several of Mills’ former players. In 1997 Rich Willard ’98 earned the Joe Zabilski Award as the most outstanding Division II/III offensive player in New England. In 2004 Ladd took home the Nils V. “Swede” Nelson Award for outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, sportsmanship and citizenship, an award that was also earned by Dan Guariglia ’08 three years later.
Although Mills focuses on the development of his student-athletes more than he does statistics and records, the numbers cannot be overlooked. Under his tutelage as a defensive coordinator, the 1996 Lord Jeffs led the nation in scoring defense, allowing a miniscule 8.4 points per game. In 2001 Amherst tied a 21-year old NCAA record by not allowing a single passing touchdown, and two years later the Jeffs tied a conference record with four shutout victories. In 2009, Mills' squad led Division III in rushing defense (50.9 ypg) and finished third in scoring defense (10.4 ppg).
Mills is a graduate of the University of Dayton, where he was a standout baseball player before earning a degree in history and secondary education in 1988. He began coaching at Midlakes High School in Clifton Springs, N.Y., before a two-year stint mentoring the defensive secondary at the University of Albany. Immediately preceding his tenure at Amherst, Mills served as the defensive coordinator at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J.
Mills is married to the former Angela Povoli, who graduated from Amherst in 1995. They reside in Amherst with their two young sons, J.B. and Nate.
E.J. Mills' Career Coaching Record
(16th season, 94-34 overall)