James Shibest
James  Shibest

Special Teams/Tight Ends

Alma Mater:
Arkansas, 1988


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Recognized as one of college football's premier special teams coaches. James Shibest is in his fourth season coordinating the Tigers’ special teams as well as coaching the squad’s tight ends.

Last year, Shibest was a part of a Memphis coaching staff which mentored the Tigers to the school’s first 10-win season since 1938. The 2014 Tigers posted a 10-3 record and closed out the season with seven straight wins including six in conference play as Memphis won the American Athletic Conference, the school’s first league title since 1971.

After winning a share of the American Athletic Conference championship, the Tigers went on to beat BYU 55-48 in double-overtime to claim the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl title.

For a second straight season, Shibest mentored the American Athletic Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Place-kicker Jake Elliott won the award and was named to the American’s All-Conference First Team for a second straight year to highlight his sophomore season.

Elliott made 21 field goals in 2014, third-most in school history and scored 120 points, second-most in program history and the most by a kicker. Of his 87 kickoffs, 51 were touchbacks.

Shibest also coached a pair of freshmen punters in 2014. Spencer Smith averaged 40.3 yards per punt while Nick Jacobs placed all 16 of his punts during the season inside opponents’ 20-yard line.

As a team, Memphis ranked fourth national in FBS Football in punt return defense, allowing opponents only a 2.77 yards per return average while the team’s 18.12 kickoff return defense ranked 17th nationally.

Punt returner Keiwone Malone averaged 7.7 yards per return to rank second in the American and closed out his career with a school-record 83 punt returns for 716 yards, fourth-most in school history. Joe Craig’s 22.4 yards per kickoff return ranked third in the conference.

Memphis tight ends caught a combined 37 passes for 526 yards and six touchdowns.

In 2013, Shibest coached the nation’s best punter, Tom Hornsey, who was named the Ray Guy Award and honored by the American Athletic Conference as the league’s Co-Special Teams Player of the Year. Shibest coached two players named to the American’s All-Conference team.

Hornsey ranked seventh nationally in punting in 2013, averaging 45.2 yards per punt. His “Inside the 20” percentage ranked fifth nationally (29 of 62 punts downed inside the 20 for a .468 percentage). Memphis’ 41.02 net punting averaged ranked fourth nationally.

Elliott was one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza College Place-Kicker Award presented by the Orange Bowl Committee in 2013.

Elliott converted on 16-of-18 field goals attempts during the 2013 season (.889). He ranked 16th among FBS place kickers in field goal percentage. He established a rookie kicker record, scoring a team-high 72 points for the Tigers. His 16 field goals tied a freshman record and also tied for the fifth-most in a season at Memphis.

Memphis was the only collegiate program to have a semifinalist for both marquee special teams awards.

In addition to his work coordinating special teams, Shibest’s tight ends combined to catch 23 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. The Tigers’ special teams led Conference USA and ranked nationally in several team statistical categories in the program’s final year in the league in 2012. Additionally, the Tigers had several standout individual performances on special teams.

For the season, Memphis led Conference USA in kickoff coverage with a net average of 42.6 yards. Memphis ranked 18th nationally in kickoff return yardage defense (18.80 yards per return). The squad also led C-USA and ranked 20th nationally with a 12.0 punt return average. The Tigers’ punting unit ranked 25th nationally with a 38.93 net punting average.

Individually, punter Tom Hornsey ranked 19th nationally in punting with a 43.43 average. Punt returner Keiwone Malone averaged 11.86 yards per punt return to rank 19th nationally. Handling kickoff return responsibilities, Bobby McCain set a single-game record with the highest kickoff return average in a game and averaged 25.8 yards per return to rank 24th nationally.

Shibest’s first-year tight ends also made an impact.

Freshman Alan Cross was the team’s leader in scoring receptions and finished the season with 23 catches for 301 yards and five scores. He was named to the All-Conference USA Freshman Team.

Junior college transfer Jesse Milleson caught 10 passes for 98 yards and three touchdowns.

In Shibest’s first season at the University of Memphis, the Tigers posted a 4-4 mark in Conference USA play, winning more league games in 2012 than the previous three seasons combined. Memphis’ 4-8 overall record marked the team’s best finish since 2008.

Prior to joining the Memphis staff, Shibest spent the previous four seasons at Ole Miss (2008-11).

During his time at Ole Miss, Shibest's special teams were highlighted by an NCAA statistical champion, four All-SEC honorees and two freshman award winners. He also tutored the top two kick returners in Ole Miss history in Mike Wallace and Jesse Grandy.

In 2011, the Rebels ranked second nationally and led the SEC in punt returns, averaging 15.64 yards per return. Ole Miss also logged two touchdowns on punt returns in 2011. In addition, Tyler Campbell ranked 21st nationally in punting with an average of 43.57 yards per punt.

The previous year, Shibest helped Campbell become the 2010 national punting champion with a 46.37-yard average. Campbell also was an All-SEC second team pick that season. In addition, Grandy ranked 10th in the NCAA in punt return average en route to All-SEC third team honors, and freshman Jeff Scott finished 20th in the nation in kick returns. Kickoff specialist Andrew Ritter's 13 touchbacks were fourth-most in the SEC.

Despite coaching a freshman-heavy group, Shibest's unit ranked among the SEC's best in 2009. Grandy finished second on the Ole Miss single-season chart with 746 kick-return yards and earned Freshman All-America second team accolades. Campbell, an SEC All-Freshman Team selection, ranked second in the conference and 14th in the nation in punting with a 44.0-yard average, while Ritter finished third in the league with 12 touchbacks, helping the Rebels rank fifth in the SEC in kickoff coverage.

Placekicker Joshua Shene, the special teams' lone senior in 2009, wrapped up his career at Ole Miss second in career scoring (310), field goals (57), field goal attempts (75), PAT made (139) and PAT attempted (142). Shene also became only the second Rebel in the program's history to lead the team in scoring all four years.

In his first season with the Rebels in 2008, Shibest was honored as the Special Teams Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com. With many of the same specialists returning from the previous year, Ole Miss significantly improved in every special teams category in the first year under Shibest. The Rebels jumped from 12th to third in kickoff coverage and from 11th to second in field goals in the SEC statistical rankings.

Wallace, a All-SEC second team returner, shattered the school record for kick return yards in a game, season and career. He also ranked third in the SEC in kick return average (24.6). In addition, Marshay Green ranked sixth in punt return average in the SEC.

Shene also garnered All-SEC kicker accolades, as he was a first team selection by the Associated Press and a second team pick by the league's coaches. A Lou Groza Award semifinalist, Shene led the conference in field goal accuracy (81.0 pct.) and converted all 52 PAT.

In one season under Shibest, the Rebels improved from 93rd nationally to 32nd in net punting and from 107th to 24th in punt coverage. Kickoff coverage improved 12 yards from the previous season and resulted in 10 touchbacks after recording none in 2007.

Shibest was a member of Nutt's Arkansas staff for eight seasons, where he coached special teams and had stints tutoring tight ends (2000-01, 2006-07) and receivers (2002-05). Before his time at Arkansas, Shibest spent eight seasons in the junior college ranks.

With the Razorbacks in 2007, Shibest coached return specialist Felix Jones, who was third nationally in kick returns with a 31.33-yard average. Jones returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2007 and returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown in each of his three seasons under Shibest.

In 2007, Jones was selected to the Walter Camp and Rivals.com All-American first team as a return specialist. He was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year and placed on the Coaches All-SEC first team.

Also, under Shibest's watch in 2007 was All-SEC second team placekicker Alex Tejada, who set the school's season kickscoring record with 108 points. The freshman finished the regular season connecting on 17-of-21 field goals, including a perfect 12-of-12 from 40 yards-and-in.

Tejada's 17 field goals in 2007 were the most by an Arkansas kicker since Todd Latourette in 1998. Tejada was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team and earned a spot on the Rivals.com All-SEC second team. In addition, Shibest's tight end Andrew Davie caught three touchdown passes, and D.J. Williams was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Under Shibest's direction, wide receiver Marcus Monk earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors in 2004, after hauling in a team-high tying 37 receptions for 569 yards and a team-best six touchdowns. Shibest also worked with punter Jeremy Davis, who was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after averaging 39.2 yards on 25 punts. Despite the loss of two senior starters from 2003, Shibest helped Arkansas rank fifth in the SEC in passing offense in 2004 (210.5 ypg) with wideouts Monk, Steve Harris and Cedric Washington combining for 91 receptions, 1,470 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Shibest's Arkansas receiving corps had one of its most-productive seasons in recent history in 2003. Seniors George Wilson and Richard Smith combined for 80 receptions, 1,473 yards and 13 touchdowns. The duo ended their careers second (144) and fourth (135), respectively, on Arkansas' all-time receptions list.

Shibest helped Wilson finish the 2003 regular season ranked fifth in the SEC in receptions (3.85) and fourth in receiving yards (69.2) per game. With Shibest's instruction, kicker Chris Balseiro made 11-of-15 field goals, including a school bowl-record four in the Hogs' 27-14 win over Missouri in the 2003 Independence Bowl. In 2002, Shibest worked with placekicker David Carlton, as he connected on 12-of-16 field goals to finish tied for third in the SEC in percentage (75.0).

Shibest also instructed punter Richie Butler, who finished his career ranked in the top-10 of every punting category in the Razorbacks record book. A 23-year coaching veteran, Shibest joined the Razorbacks staff in 2000 after a highly successful four-year stint as head coach at Butler County (Kan.) Community College. Shibest led the Grizzlies to a four-year record of 34-10 and back-toback

National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championships in 1998 and 1999. He was named the NJCAA Coach of the Year both seasons, and he also earned Jayhawk Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1996 and 1998. During his tenure at Butler County, Shibest coached 19 NJCAA All-Americans and 34 NCAA Division I signees, including Jermaine Petty who earned All-America first team honors from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). Shibest led the Grizzlies to records of 7-4 in 1996, 4-5 in 1997, 12-0 in 1998 and 11-1 in 1999.

Shibest began his career as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State, coaching receivers in 1990 and running backs in 1991. In 1992, Shibest began his ascent through the junior college coaching ranks as offensive coordinator at Independence (Kan.) Community College.

After coaching the Independence defensive secondary in 1993, Shibest embarked on a two-year tenure as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks/receivers coach at Garden City (Kan.) Community College. There, he helped the Bronc Busters to a 10-1 record in 1994 and a 9-2 mark in 1995 with an offense that ranked sixth in the NJCAA.

A native of Houston, Texas, Shibest was a prep All-America receiver at MacArthur High School, where he caught 79 passes for 1,337 yards and 17 touchdowns his final two seasons.

Shibest had a standout collegiate career as a receiver at Arkansas, earning All-Southwest Conference honors in 1984 and 1986. He amassed a then school-record 1,920 receiving yards on 97 receptions, including 10 touchdowns. His career receiving yardage total still ranks fifth in the Arkansas record book.

Shibest and his wife, Dianna, are the parents of James John III and Jordyn Grace.

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