Perry Eliano is in his fifth season as an assistant coach at UTSA. He tutors the program’s safeties and is in his fourth year as special teams coordinator.
Last year, Eliano helped lead a defense that ranked in the Conference USA top five in five different statistical categories, including second in rushing defense (140.8 ypg). UTSA forced 19 turnovers (10 fumbles/9 INTs) with his safeties combining for seven of the picks. Free safety Triston Wade was one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award (nation's top defensive back) — a program first — and he also garnered second-team all-conference honors after registering team highs for tackles (86), interceptions (4), pass breakups (10) and fumble recoveries (2). Eliano's special teams also excelled in 2014, as the Roadrunners led the league in net punting (39.3 avg.) on the strength of honorable mention all-conference punter Kristian Stern, who set school records for punts (83) and punting average (41.2), and were tied for third in field goals behind second-team all-conference place-kicker Sean Ianno, who made 17-of-21, including a school-record 53-yarder against Florida Atlantic, along with registering 16 touchbacks on kickoffs. Deep snapper Jesse Medrano also collected second-team all-conference honors.
In 2013, Eliano helped lead UTSA to a 7-5 overall record, including victories over a pair of bowl teams. The Roadrunners finished second in the West Division with a 6-2 mark in their first season in Conference USA. He helped tutor a defense that forced 14 turnovers (6 fumbles/8 INTs), with the safeties combining for six of the picks, and allowed just 143.1 rushing yards per game. Wade led the team in tackles (94), solo tackles (54) and interceptions (two), while Nic Johnston was third in stops (70). On special teams, Ianno established a school record for touchbacks with 21 and connected on all 38 of his extra-point attempts. Wade earned second-team All-Conference USA honors, while Johnston and Stern were honorable mention all-conference.In 2012, Eliano helped lead UTSA to an 8-4 overall record and a 3-3 mark in its first and only season in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The campaign was highlighted by historic wins against South Alabama, the program’s first road and Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) victory, and New Mexico State, its first league win. The defense forced 29 turnovers (16 fumbles/13 interceptions), which led to 22 scores (15 TDs/7 FGs), and Wade garnered first-team All-WAC accolades.
In his first year overseeing special teams, the placekickers combined to make 15-of-19 field goals and all 45 PATs. Kenny Harrison finished second in the FBS in punt return average (17.3), had a program-record 79-yard TD return in the season-ending victory against I-35 rival Texas State and was an honorable mention all-league selection..
Eliano helped lead the Roadrunners to a 4-6 record during their inaugural campaign in 2011. The defense allowed just 21.4 points and 126.2 yards rushing per game and forced 21 turnovers (11 fumbles, 10 interceptions), which led to 15 scores. His safeties recovered six fumbles — three by Johnston — and picked off five passes. Additionally, three of the team’s top five tacklers were in his unit — Mark Waters (68/2nd), Johnston (59/4th) and Mauricio Sanchez (44/5th).
Eliano came to UTSA from Central Arkansas, where he was an assistant coach for defensive backs for five seasons, the first of two tenures with the Bears.
Promoted to associate head coach for the 2010 campaign, Eliano mentored 2007 third-team All-America cornerback Tristan Jackson, 2010 Southland Conference co-Freshman of the Year safety Jestin Love and a total of nine all-conference players during his combined seven seasons in Conway. He also attended the NCAA Coaches Academy in Summer 2010.
Prior to his second stint at UCA, Eliano was the secondary coach at Sam Houston State in 2005, where he coached second-team All-Southland cornerback Derrick Harris.
Central Arkansas first hired Eliano in 2003 as the running backs coach and he then moved over to tutor the team’s wide receivers the following season.
In those two years, running back Willie Hopson earned first-team All-Gulf South accolades as a true freshman and wide receiver Mike Norvell, UCA’s all-time receptions leader, was tabbed second-team All-Gulf South a year later. The Bears ranked among the top 10 in Division II in scoring and total offense in his final campaign.
Eliano began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Stephen F. Austin, from 2001-02. He helped mentor the defensive backs and running backs in those two seasons and four Lumberjacks were honored by the Southland in his two years in Nacogdoches.
A native of Killeen, Eliano was a four-year starter at both safety and linebacker for SFA from 1996-99. He was the team’s Defensive Most Valuable Player and leading tackler in both 1998 and ’99. Playing strong safety as a senior, he registered a team-high 99 tackles to help guide the Lumberjacks to the Southland Championship and was named all-conference following that campaign. He also was named the Ralph Todd Award (University Outstanding Male Athlete) winner the following spring.
A standout prep defensive back, Eliano was a three-year letterwinner at Ellison High School from 1993-95. He earned all-state honors following his senior season after helping the Eagles reach the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
Eliano earned his bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin in 2000 and a master’s in secondary education three years later. He and his wife, Regenia, have two sons, Amari and Evan.
The Perry Eliano File
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