JONESBORO — Jake Mizell, a former collegiate All-America selection at Arkansas State University, has been selected to lead the Red Wolves as the rugby program’s new head coach. Mizell begins his responsibilities March 1.
Mizell, who has been involved with rugby for more than 18 years, comes from Iowa Central Community College, where he served as the program’s top assistant since 2018. In 2019 the Iowa Central Tritons won the D1AA 15s national championship; and Mizell was instrumental in one player being selected for the USA U20 National team, and another getting drafted in the first Major League Rugby collegiate draft.
“Becoming the men’s rugby head coach at Arkansas State University is a dream come true,” Mizell said. “This is where I was first introduced to a high-performance rugby environment. I enjoyed a successful collegiate career by becoming a five-year starter, collegiate All-American, and playing for a national championship. I look at going back as a coach as taking care of some unfinished business. I set high goals for myself and the teams I coach and the bar is even higher at my alma mater.”
Mizell, who is originally from Keller, Texas, was a forward at ASU from 2009-14. While playing with the Red Wolves, the program won USA Rugby 7s national championships in 2012 and 2013 and advanced to the title game of the 15s tournament in 2012. Arkansas State also appeared in the D1A semifinals four times.
Following his time at Arkansas State, he accepted a position with the University of Oklahoma men’s rugby team where he was the forwards coach, recruiting coordinator, and strength and conditioning coach for a short period. Afterwards Mizell moved to Colorado, where he played for the Glendale Raptors and helped them to a Pacific Rugby Premiership Championship. From there he moved on to Spring Hill College, where he coached the forwards for the men’s and women’s teams.
“I am very excited about coming back to Jonesboro,” Mizell continued. “The community is truly a college town that thrives on athletic success; and the support for the rugby team is no different. Curt Huckaby Field has a reputation for being one of the toughest places to play in the country and I’m looking to magnify that.”
Arkansas State rugby got off to a late start in the spring season as the hiring of a new rugby coach was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Red Wolves, who were coached by ASU executive director of student health and wellness and Mizell’s former head coach Matt Huckaby, have played one match against powerhouse Lindenwood, losing 31-8. Due to inclement weather conditions, the Feb. 13 scheduled match with Life was postponed.
Mizell doesn’t see coming in after the season has started as a hindrance. “When opportunity knocks on your door you take it,” he added. “Being thrown into the position in mid-season is not ideal; but I’m not going to let it lower expectations.
“This team has a lot of young talent on the roster. Heck, they beat the No. 1 team in the country last year before the COVID shutdown. I know that the sky truly is the limit for them.”