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From a media release: Berry College football defensive coordinator Nate Masters has resigned his position to accept the defensive coordinator job at the University of West Georgia (NCAA Division II).
“Being a part of the inaugural Berry football coaching staff has been an experience that I’ll take with me the rest of my life,” Masters said. “I can’t thank Coach [Tony Kunczewski] enough for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this program and coach the exceptional student-athletes here. Working for the man who coached and mentored me has been a very special experience. There will always be part of me that is a Viking, and I look forward to following the continued success of Berry football.”
Said Angel Mason, Berry’s director of athletics: “We have been so privileged to have Nate serve our athletes and institution. His impact on our football program will be felt for years to come. We wish him and his family nothing but success in their future endeavors.”
Masters was the first coach hired by Kunczewski in July 2012, serving as the defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator until the start of the 2014 season when he assumed the role of defensive coordinator.
“Nate is a wonderful coach, teacher and mentor,” Kunczewski said.“It is especially difficult for me personally because I’ve been with Nate since 2005 when he transferred from Maryville to LaGrange as a student-athlete. I have coached him and coached with him for a long time. I consider him a great friend, not just a fellow member of our staff. West Georgia is getting an outstanding coach, but an even better man.”
Masters’ defense quickly became one of the most dominant in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA). Berry claimed its fourth consecutive SAA title in 2019, rising to a program-best No. 7 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top-25. The team ranked second in NCAA Division III with 4.27 sacks per game this year and was top-10 in defensive touchdowns.
Since the 2015 season, the Berry defense has led the SAA in rushing yards allowed per game including 2016 when the ream ranked No. 3 in NCAA Division III with 66.6 rushing yards allowed per contest. That season, Berry placed the first Viking on the All-American list in Mamadou Soumahoro who led the nation with 15 solo sacks. Soumahoro went on to earn two SAA Defensive Player of the Year honors, two AFCA first-team All-America selections and became a two-time Cliff Harris Award finalist. Masters coached Bryson Lamboy to the program’s third straight SAA Defensive Player of the Year honor in 2018 with Lamboy also earning All-America and Cliff Harris Award finalist accolades.
Masters was an All-Conference defensive back as a student-athlete at LaGrange College where he played under Kunczewski before coaching alongside him. As a student-athlete, Masters earned All-St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors as a senior in 2008. He was a captain and three-year starter for the Panthers, transferring to LaGrange from Maryville College in 2005 to take part in the inaugural season of LaGrange football in 2006.
Along with his individual accolades, Masters helped LaGrange put together a 9-2 overall record en route to a SLIAC title and an appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs during his senior year. It marked the third fastest trip to the national playoffs in NCAA Division III history. That season, Masters was an integral part of a defensive unit that ranked fifth in the nation in pass defense, sixth in tackles for loss, 15th in quarterback sacks and 18th in total defense.
Masters earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2009 and a master’s degree in teaching in 2012, both from LaGrange College. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Masters and his wife, Stephanie, have two sons, Myles and Eli.