Petrino adds two assistant coaches, promotes Brandon Mitchell - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Petrino adds two assistant coaches, promotes Brandon Mitchell

Photo: Idaho Athletics Photo: Idaho Athletics

By Idaho Athletics

MOSCOW, Idaho- Idaho football head coach Paul Petrino officially announced the addition of two assistant coaches Wednesday, and the promotion of another. John Graham and Vernon Smith have joined the Vandals on the defensive side of the ball, while former graduate assistant Brandon Mitchell was promoted to the team’s 10th full-time assistant position, coaching the wide receivers.

Graham, formerly the defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington, joins Idaho’s staff as the inside linebackers coach. He is the father of Idaho junior linebacker Ty Graham. Smith, who spent the 2017 season at Northern Arizona, takes over the Vandals’ cornerbacks.

John Graham – Inside Linebackers

Graham brings with him 22 years of collegiate coaching experience, most recently spending nine seasons at Eastern Washington from 2008-16. He was the Eagles’ defensive coordinator for seven seasons. During his time at EWU, Graham coached numerous student-athletes who earned All-America honors and his 2010 defensive unit helped the Eagles win the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision National Title, after leading the nation with 47 forced turnovers and 26 interceptions.

Prior to joining the EWU staff in 2008, Graham spent 13 years at Central Washington, including time as the defensive coordinator, as well as coaching the defensive backs and linebackers. During his time at CWU, he helped coach the Wildcats to an 89-51 overall record, including five conference championships and the NAIA title in 1995.

Originally from Ellensburg, Wash., Graham is a graduate of Reardan High School. He played football for two seasons at Walla Walla CC where he earned first-team all-conference honors as a defensive back. Graham then played for Central Washington in 1990 and 1991 as a defensive back, he earned all-conference honorable mention accolades his senior season. Graham graduated from CWU with a degree in business education in 1992.

Graham and his wife Becky have two sons, Andrew and Ty, and one daughter Sara.

Vernon Smith – Cornerbacks

Smith is joining the Vandals after spending the 2017 season as the defensive secondary coach at Northern Arizona. He helped the Lumberjacks to a spot in the FCS Playoffs, the sixth appearance in program history.

Prior to NAU, Smith spent two seasons as the cornerbacks coach at Portland State. His first year he helped coach both starting cornerbacks to All-Big Sky honors. The following season, cornerback Xavier Coleman earned as All-America honors. During Smith’s first season, the Vikings made an appearance in the second round of the 2015 FCS Playoffs.

Smith spent 2014 as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at College of Redwoods. Before that he spent two seasons at Arizona Western and two seasons at Palomar College as a defensive secondary coach. His coaching experience began at Central Washington where he was a graduate assistant from 2008-10.

Originally from San Diego, Calif., Smith played college football at Montana from 2000-04, where he was a three-time All-Big Sky Conference honoree. He also earned second team All-America in 2002, and was a member of the Grizzlies’ FCS National Championship team in 2001. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Montana, and a master’s degree in health and physical education from Central Washington.

Brandon Mitchell – Wide Receivers

Mitchell spent the last two seasons as an offensive graduate assistant with the Vandals. He will take over wide receiver coaching duties this season.

Prior to starting his coaching career at Idaho, Mitchell played professionally in the Indoor Football League. He started 11 games at quarterback for the Colorado Ice before season-ending injury. He second in the league voting for rookie of the year and fourth in the MVP race.

Mitchell began his collegiate career at Arkansas, where he competed in football and basketball. He spent two seasons as a quarterback for the Razorbacks before switching to wide receiver where he made three starts as a junior.

Upon graduating from Arkansas, Mitchell transferred to North Carolina State for his final season of eligibility and returned to playing quarterback. A foot injury in the season opener cost him eight weeks, but Mitchell finished the year throwing for 1,191 yards and 10 touchdown, and adding 447 yards and seven scores on the ground.

Originally from Amite, La., Mitchell was an all-state selection in both football and basketball, earning player of the year honors on the gridiron.

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