Assistant Head Coach / Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line
Chennis Berry was hired as the Assistant Head Coach/Co-Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach at Southern University in 2013. In his two seasons with the program, he has helped guide the Jaguars to two SWAC West titles and the 2013 SWAC Championship. Southern ranked seventh nationally in fewest sacks allowed in 2014 and led the SWAC in Red Zone efficiency. Individually, OL Dewayne Houston and WR Willie Quinn were each named All-Americans and First Team All-SWAC selections while QB Austin Howard was named the conference’s freshman of the year. In 2013, QB Dray Joseph earned SWAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors for his role in leading the Jaguars to their first conference championship since 2003. WR Lee Doss was named an All-American and First Team All-SWAC while OL Anthony Mosley received Second Team All-SWAC honors. Under Berry’s direction, Joseph, Doss and Mosley combined to lead the SWAC in Passing Efficiency and earn a second place conference ranking in Passing Offense. Overall, Berry has 20 years of college coaching experience and has earned an excellent reputation for developing solid offensive lines while orchestrating rushing attacks that lead to record-breaking performances.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Berry came to Southern following two seasons as the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Howard University. In 2012, the Bison finished second in the MEAC with a 7-4 record which was the program’s first winning season in seven years. The offensive line was key to the Bison’s success as Howard finished 2nd 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 (Josh Matthews, Davin Morris, Bradley Bush Johnson, and David Wilson). The offensive line also blocked for the MEAC’s leading rusher, Terrence Lefall, who rushed for 1,200 yards in only eight games.
In 2011, Berry helped guide the Bison to five wins – eclipsing Howard’s total of three wins during the previous three seasons combined. On offense, QB Greg McGhee was named MEAC Rookie of the Year after finishing third in the conference in total offense by averaging 197.5 yards per game. He threw for 1,784 passing yards and 13 touchdowns while adding 388 yards and four rushing touchdowns. McGhee was protected by senior OT Cory Gwinner who earned First Team All-MEAC honors. Senior WR Willie Carter was also named First Team All-MEAC after recording 50 catches for 646 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Berry came to Howard after spending the previous two years as the associate head coach / offensive coordinator and offensive line coach 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 coached Michael Mayhew who was named 1st Team All MEAC and was the MEAC’s returning leading rusher. Mayhew rushed for 1,000 yards in 2010 and was also selected as the MEAC Rookie of the Year in 2009. Wide receiver Wallace Myles was a mainstay at the top of the conference in receptions.
Over his career, Berry has also shown a willingness to expand his coaching knowledge. 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.
The 2007 season marked the best year the Bears had under Berry. They led the conference in rushing with running back Chad Simpson compiling 127.5 yards per game to lead the league. Nationally, the Bears’ running game was the 18th best in the nation. Simpson ranked ninth nationally, earned MEAC Offensive Player of the Year honors and first-team AFCA All-American accolades. Simpson and offensive tackle Clifford Louis went on to sign NFL contracts.
Berry was with North Carolina A&T for a total of five years (2003-05 and 2009-2010). 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. Six games into the 2005 season, Berry took over the Aggies offensive coordinating duties. His first game as the Aggies chief play-caller resulted in an Aggies overtime victory in which running back Brandon Sweeney rushed for 205 yards on 42 carries. On November 5, 2005, three Aggies recorded more than 100 yards receiving in a game for the first time in school history. Just three weeks later, Brandon Trusty tied the school record for receptions in a game with 14. By season’s end Trusty tied the school record for receptions in a season with 63.
Berry also saw two of his offensive linemen sign NFL contracts. The Green Bay Packers selected Junius Coston in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Walter Stith signed a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills in 2006. Coston played in the 2005 Senior Bowl and Stith played in the 2006 Hula Bowl.
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.
Running back Orlando Wiley rushed for more than 1,400 yards that season and was named SIAC Player of the Year. The Wildcats’ running game led to a Division II playoff berth. The next year another Wildcats running back showcased his talent behind Berry’s linemen. Duron Croson was named SIAC Player and Back of the year in 2002. He also led black college football in rushing and was a first-team Sheridan All-American.
Berry holds a masters degree in public administration from Kentucky State University and received his bachelors 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 has two children, Chenniss III (son) and Channing (daughter).