ECU football announces addition of pair of offensive assistant coaches

GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU Athletics) – Sixth-year ECU Head Football Coach Mike Houston officially announced the addition of Rodney Freeman II (running backs) and Hunter MacKay (tight ends) to the Pirates’ staff on Thursday. Both assistant coaches have assumed their duties immediately.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rodney and Hunter to our staff,” Houston said. “Both have been a part of winning programs at the highest levels and have been successful in developing young men both on and off the field. They are men of high character who value the importance of family and embracing their community.”

Freeman comes to East Carolina after serving one year at Utah State University as the running backs coach. With 13 years of coaching experience, Freeman helped the Aggies rank among the NCAA leaders (Top 40) in total offense (22nd/446.4 ypg), rushing offense (25th/186.6 rypg), scoring offense (25th/34.1 ppg) and red zone offense (38th/88.4 pct). His running backs room tallied 13 of 17 ground scores and was led by Davon Booth who rushed for 734 yards on 116 carries with five scores. Booth stood 14th nationally (third in Mountain West) in yards per carry at 6.33 while ranking 86th overall (eighth in conference) in rushing yards.

Freeman went to Utah State after serving as an offensive analyst for Michigan State during the 2022 campaign. He joined the Spartans after spending the spring season as the offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach at Colorado Mesa. Prior to his appointment there, Freeman was the offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Klein Forest High School in Houston, Texas, for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

At Klein Forest, he coached four-star running back Ahmonte Watkins, who signed to play at TCU, to an all-district selection in 2020. In 2021, Freeman coached Kendrick Bradley to all-district honors as he led the district with over 1,400 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns. Bradley was named a Houston Touchdown Club finalist and signed to play collegiately at Division II Henderson State. He also mentored both three-star recruit Parker Jenkins and four-star recruit Jelani Watkins to all-district selections as the duo helped contribute to a potent and explosive offense.

Freeman coached three years (2017-19) at West Texas A&M, spending time as both a wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator. The Buffs’ special teams unit excelled under Freeman as they ranked first in the nation in kickoff return defense and punt returns. He also coached Tobias Harris, who ranked second in all of NCAA college football in punt return average. Semaj Mitchell had a breakout year under Freeman as the senior wideout recorded a team-high 32 receptions for 457 yards and six touchdowns. Juwan McCall was equally impressive with 29 receptions for 404 yards and four scores, including back-to-back games with over 100 yards receiving. In 2018, Freeman was instrumental in helping Mitchell earn Lone Star Conference honorable mention honors as he led the team in receptions and receiving yards.

During his two seasons (2015-16) at Abilene Christian as a running backs coach, Freeman coached D’Andre Brown who earned second-team all-Southland honors.

Freeman spent two years (2013-14) at Missouri Southern in Joplin, Missouri, where he worked primarily with the wide receivers. He served as the wide receivers and tight ends coach at Western State Colorado in 2012, where he was responsible for running and facilitating position meetings while planning and scripting position segment practices.

Before joining the Mountaineers staff, Freeman spent a season (2011) as the co-offensive coordinator at Lutheran North High School in Houston. He also was the head freshman coach and assistant varsity coach at Eisenhower High School where he led the freshman team to a 9-0-1 record and a district championship.

The Houston, Texas, native played collegiately at both Abilene Christian (2007-08) and Stephen F. Austin (2005-06). He helped lead ACU to a conference championship as a wide receiver and backup quarterback in 2008. Freeman graduated from Abilene Christian in 2009.

MacKay’s appointment as the tight ends coach will end a two-year stint at Ole Miss where he has served as an offensive line graduate assistant and analyst, a position he began in February of 2022. In his first season with the program, the Rebels rushing attack broke the school record with 3,336 yards while tallying nearly 6,500 yards of total offense (6,453) which ranks fourth all-time in school history. This year, the Rebels are averaging 455.4 yards per game standing 16th nationally, rank among the NCAA leaders in seven offensive categories and have secured their third consecutive bowl game appearance after posting a 10-2 record.

Prior to his appointment to the Rebels staff, MacKay served as the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Saint Anselm College (2021). The Hawks stood ninth nationally in passing offense per game (314.7) and 26th in sacks allowed per contest (1.11), while leading the Northeast 10 Conference in passing offense and ranking second in total offense (380.9 ypg) and fifth in scoring (25.1 ppg).

MacKay arrived at Saint Anselm from Middle Tennessee State University where he served a three-year stint in a variety of roles. Starting off as the quality control coach for the offensive line, he also worked with the offensive line as a graduate assistant and assisted the program’s tight ends and H-backs.

At MTSU, the team made its first-ever Conference USA title game appearance in 2018. MacKay also helped the program to two bowl games, winning the Raycom Camellia Bowl in 2017. During his time with MTSU, he worked with three All-Conference USA selections.

During his time at Samford University from Feb. 2016 to Aug. 2017, MacKay was the offensive line’s quality control coach and went on to become the director of player personnel – managing the team’s recruiting operations while directing the spring evaluation period.

With MacKay’s assistance, Samford made the postseason for just the fourth time in school history and helped to create the 16th-ranked total offense in NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) football.

He gained valuable experience early on in his career at Mercer University, coaching the receiving corps from January 2015 to February 2016. He got his start at Mount De Sales Academy in Macon, Ga., gaining skills as the institution’s Strength and Conditioning Coach while mentoring the program’s receiving corps.

A 2015 graduate of Mercer with a degree in sports business management, he went on to earn a masters degree in professional studies/strategic leadership & training and development from Middle Tennessee in December 2020.

He and his wife, Kaitlyn, have one son named Ford who was born in December 2021.

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