UTRGV football hires Gamble as defensive coordinator

Brian Gamble

EDINBURG — UTRGV head football coach Travis Bush announced the hiring of Brian Gamble to be the first defensive coordinator in program history on Wednesday.

“I’ve known Brian for a long time and I’m extremely excited to finally work alongside him. He will add value to this program in many different areas,” Bush said. “Brian was on the original coaching staff at Incarnate Word when that program started and will add great insight from that experience. As the son of a legendary Texas high school coach, Brian has been around the game his entire life and has great relationships with high school coaches, which will help our recruiting.

“Brian also played at a high level at Texas A&M, he has coached at many levels, and last season he helped coordinate one of the most improved defenses in the country in FBS,” Bush added. “Those experiences have helped him put a package together that will allow the Vaqueros to play an attacking style of defense with multiple fronts and coverages. We can’t wait to get on the road recruiting this spring.”

Gamble spent the 2021 and 2022 seasons as the inside linebackers coach at Texas State. He contributed to a defensive turnaround in San Marcos which resulted in Texas State’s best defensive production in the program’s FBS history, going back to 2012. Texas State recorded the best total defense (354.3 yards per game), rush defense (111.7 yards/game), scoring defense (25 points/game), tackles for loss (71), yards per play (5.2) and points per drive (2.01) in FBS program history in 2022.

Gamble was the linebackers coach at Louisiana Tech for three seasons (2018-20). While there, he guided linebackers Trey Baldwin and Tyler Grubbs to Second Team All-Conference USA honors and three Honorable Mention All-C-USA defensive selections in Willie Baker, Collin Scott and Connor Taylor. Baldwin led C-USA with 5.9 solo tackles per game while Grubbs also earned Freshman All-America honors.

Louisiana Tech went 23-13 during Gamble’s tenure, including a 10-win season in 2019 – the first for the program since 1984. The 10th victory was a 14-0 win over Miami in the 2019 Independence Bowl, marking the first shutout in the bowl’s history and the only shutout of the bowl season. Louisiana Tech ranked 30th in the country in scoring defense in 2019 as the Bulldogs allowed just 21.8 points per game – the program’s fewest since 1991.

In 2008, Gamble joined the University of the Incarnate Word’s (UIW) staff as a defensive line coach and spent 10 seasons with the Cardinals. He was named the defensive coordinator in 2012.

Gamble’s first season at UIW saw the Cardinals finish 16th in the nation in tackles for loss per game and 33rd in sacks per game. When Gamble became defensive coordinator, he transitioned the defense to a 3-4 front. UIW finished fourth in the Lonestar Conference in passing yards allowed per game that season (216). In 2013, UIW recorded the first two shutouts in program history and held four opponents to less than 10 points. Four defensive players earned College Sports Madness All-Independent Second or Third Team honors that season.

Having coached at almost all levels of college football and having been a part of highly successful defenses from junior college to FBS, I have gained valuable experience and learned how to be resourceful.

In 2015, Gamble’s defense ranked first in yards allowed per game among Division I programs in Texas and finished fourth in the Southland Conference in points allowed and third in yards allowed. The UIW defense was 18th in the nation in fourth down conversion percentage, 21st in interceptions, 27th in total first downs allowed, 37th in passing yards allowed per game and 39th in total yards allowed per game.

Gamble also mentored All-America linebacker Myke Tavarres and Second Team All-Region cornerback Devan Avery.

“After talking with Coach Bush and UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque, it was evident that UTRGV is committed to building a program the right way and it was an easy decision that this was something I wanted to be a part of,” Gamble said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to be a coordinator, much less the first in the history of a program. To be able to lay a foundation and set a standard is a great responsibility and privilege. I am looking forward to working with our staff and university to put the best product we can on the field and to groom our young people into something the UTRGV family can be proud of.

“I’d like to thank my wife and kids for all their support in this journey. Thanks to Coach Bush for giving me the opportunity to help build this program from the ground up,” Gamble added. “Having coached at almost all levels of college football and having been a part of highly successful defenses from junior college to FBS, I have gained valuable experience and learned how to be resourceful. I plan to use those experiences to help with what we are building at UTRGV. I want our defense to play smart, fast, and physical for however long it takes and have fun doing it.”

A graduate of Texas A&M, Gamble played for the Aggies from 1999-2002 and was a four-year starting linebacker while earning a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Leadership and Development. He started 46 consecutive games and 47 overall, accumulating 341 total tackles in his career. During his senior season, Gamble ranked second on the team with 82 tackles.

Gamble was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and a Second Team Freshman All-America honoree in 1999 after tallying 60 tackles with 10 tackles for loss and two sacks in 10 starts as a freshman. He led Texas A&M with 110 tackles as a sophomore enroute to earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. Gamble was a preseason Third Team All-America selection in 2001 and was on the Butkus Award watch list in 2002. He was voted defensive team captain by his teammates his senior season.

Gamble’s coaching career began at Kilgore College in 2004, when he served as the linebackers coach and helped guide the team to a No. 5 ranking and a 10-2 record. He was a graduate assistant at Houston from 2005-07, contributing to the Cougars winning the 2006 C-USA Championship with a 10-4 record.

A native of Alto, Texas, Gamble and his wife, Stephanie, have one son, Bossley, and two daughters, Madelyn and Maris.