Benedict hires new head football coach
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Benedict College named Chennis Berry as the new head football coach for the BC Tigers. Benedict College President Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis and Athletic Director Willie Washington led the announcement on the college campus before students, faculty, staff alumni and members of the media.
“On behalf of the Benedict College Tigers, I want to publicly thank our Athletic Director, Willie Washington and the members of the search committee for their thorough and thoughtful processes that led us to welcome this outstanding coach, Chennis Berry, to the BC family,” said Dr. Roslyn C. Artis, President and CEO of Benedict College. “We are thrilled and honored to have a football coach with the incredible credentials of Mr. Berry to lead our football program. At Benedict, we strive for the BEST in everything we do, and Coach Berry exemplifies those qualities. He is the BEST of BC.”
Berry comes to Benedict after serving as the Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator at Southern University. During his seven seasons with Southern, the Jaguars had a winning record every season and won four SWAC West Division titles and one SWAC championship, while the offense under his direction set numerous school and SWAC conference records. His coaching resume also includes stops at Howard University, North Carolina A&T, Morgan State, Morris Brown, Kentucky State, Fort Valley State and Savannah State, while also serving internships with six different NFL teams.
“We had a lot of excellent applicants for this position, and in the end it was clear that Coach Berry was the top candidate who could bring a winning attitude and the offensive production that will excite the Benedict fans,” said Benedict Director of Athletics Willie Washington. “He has a proven track record of winning, coaching young men to become All-Conference and All-Americans, and putting points on the scoreboard. We know everyone will want to come and watch this exciting team we will have on the field.”
While at Southern, Berry helped direct one of the most prolific offenses in the country. This past season, the Jaguars led the SWAC in rushing and ranked 13th in the nation. The Jaguars averaged more than 33 points per game, ranking 25th in the nation in scoring. In 2016, the Jaguars ranked fifth in the nation in scoring, averaging 39.8 points per game, and 11th nationally in total offense. Under his leadership, the “Blue Machine” offense at Southern produced the school’s and conference’s all-time leading rusher (Lenard Tillery), the school’s all-time leading receiver (Willie Quinn) and the school’s all-time leading passer (Austin Howard). As an offensive line coach, Berry guided the Jaguars to no lower than 12th in the nation in sacks allowed each of the last three seasons. Since 2013, Berry has mentored 10 offensive linemen who have earned All-SWAC recognition, and five earned All-American recognition.
“I am excited and honored for the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at Benedict College,” Berry said. “The passion of Coach Washington and the energy of the students and staff is thrilling and exciting. I am ready to roll up my sleeves, get started and do my part to accelerate the legacy of Benedict College.”
Berry will be taking over a Benedict program that went 1-9 in 2019 and averaged 18.6 points per game and ranked 163rd, out of 166 Division II teams, in total offense.
Prior to joining Southern, Berry spent two seasons as the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Howard University. The offensive line was key to the Bison’s success as Howard finished second in the MEAC with a 365.4 yards per game average. The Bison also were second in the MEAC in rushing with 221.5 yards per game average. These accomplishments led to four Howard offensive linemen earning All-MEAC honors, and the offensive line blocked for the MEAC’s leading rusher.
Prior to Howard, Berry spent two years as the associate head coach/offensive coordinator/offensive line at North Carolina A&T. Berry’s offense had one of the top rushing attacks in the MEAC during both his seasons at North Carolina A&T. He also had one of his early coaching stops at N.C. A&T, serving as offensive line coach from 2003-05. Over his first two seasons with the Aggies, he served as the offensive line coach. A strong running game led the Aggies to the 2003 MEAC Championship and a NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth.
As part of the NFL’s Minority Internship Program, Berry has interned with six different NFL teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears. In 2009, he participated in the NCAA Expert Coaches Academy Forum. The program prepares young minority assistant coaches for head coaching positions.
Berry served as Morgan State’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 2006-2008. During Berry’s time there, the Bears possessed one of the most envied running games in the MEAC. In each of his three seasons with Morgan State, the Bears’ rushing offense ranked in the top 50 nationally.
Berry began his career at Morris Brown College in Atlanta where he coached under Joe Crosby. After one season with Morris Brown, Berry became the offensive line and tight ends coach as well as the strength and conditioning coordinator at Kentucky State under George Small in 1997.
Behind Berry’s strong offensive line at Kentucky State, Alvon Brown broke several school and national Division II records. Brown broke the single-season rushing record at KSU twice, and finished his career as the school’s all-time leading rusher. He also rushed for 405 yards in a game on September 16, 2000, which at the time was a Division II single-game record. Berry’s offensive line also helped Brown win the SIAC Player and Back of the Year awards on two occasions.
In 2001, Berry became the assistant head coach at Fort Valley State. He was responsible for coaching the Wildcats’ offensive linemen and tight ends. His impact at FVSU was immediately felt as Philip Shiflet earned SIAC Offensive Lineman of the Year and first-team Sheridan All-Americans honors in 2001.
Berry holds a master’s degree in public administration from Kentucky State University and received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Savannah State University. As a player at Savannah State, he earned First Team All-SIAC at offensive tackle and was named Black College All-American Honorable Mention in 1994. He also served as Savannah State’s team captain.
Berry is married to Mrs. Ramille Berry and together they share 4 children Jasmin, Mia, Chennis III & Channing.