James Webster enters his fifth season as the 21st head football coach at Tennessee State University. Coach Webster brings with him 30 years of football coaching experience to the Big Blue.
Coach Webster registered his first win as a head coach at the Southern Heritage Classic, as the Tigers defeated Jackson State 20-14 in overtime. His first Ohio Valley Conference win came in a 31-20 victory at Tennessee Tech on October 15, 2005. In 2007, under Webster, the Tigers claimed the inaugural Sgt. York Trophy; the trophy is contested between the four OVC schools in the state of Tennessee.
Prior to coming to the Tigers, he served four seasons on the coaching staff at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. Webster was the assistant head coach and special team's coordinator at UNC. He had previously coached the team's defensive ends.
Coach Webster has begun a new chapter in the proud history of the TSU Tigers football program. The Tigers earned back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference championships in 1998 and 1999, and were ranked first in the NCAA Division I-AA at the end of the regular season in 1999. TSU's football team has also won several National Black College Championships, the most recent in 1982.
Webster began his college football career as a player at North Carolina in 1968. He started at linebacker for three consecutive seasons. Webster was a standout defensive player for the UNC Tar Heels, and was named Most Valuable Defensive Player in the 1971 Gator Bowl. The following year, he received the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award and the Frank Porter Graham Award as one of the top 12 seniors at UNC. He graduated from UNC in 1972, with a bachelor's degree in education.
Webster began his coaching career in 1973 working with the junior varsity program at North Carolina. Webster has also coached linebackers at Dartmouth (1993-95), defensive ends at Wake Forest (1988-93), and defensive backs at Northwestern (1982-84). He also served on the coaching staffs at Florida (1974-75), Kansas (1975-78) and Colorado (1978-81).
Webster has also worked with professional football teams. He won a minority coaching fellowship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1995, and another with the St. Louis Rams in 1999.
Prior to returning to UNC, Webster spent six seasons on the coaching staff at East Carolina. He served as outside linebacker coach from 1995-1998, and was in charge of the defensive line from 1999-2000. Webster was promoted to assistant head coach of the Pirates in 1998.
In his first season back in Chapel Hill, Webster had an immediate impact on the defense. Carolina led the ACC and was ranked 15th in the nation in total defense in 2001. Under Webster's guidance, defensive end Julius Peppers won both the 2001 Lombardi and Bednarik Awards, becoming the first Tar Heel ever to win a major college football award. Peppers became just the second Carolina player to earn consensus All-America honors. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers as the Number 2 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft.
Coach Webster and his wife, the former Cornelia Mathews, have one son, Kali James, and two grandsons, Tajae and Xavier.