Harbison, a North Carolina native, joined the Mountaineers’ staff as the cornerbacks coach earlier this year. He spent the 2018 season as the assistant defensive backs coach for the Arizona Cardinals and helped Arizona rank fourth in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed per game following a 26-year run as a college coach with deep ties to the SEC, ACC and Sun Belt.
In those 26 seasons, Harbison was part of teams that combined for 20 bowl appearances, including the BCS National Championship Game, two Orange Bowls, two Sugar Bowls and two Cotton Bowls. He coached at Clemson, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and LSU prior to working in the Sun Belt as Louisiana’s co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach from 2015-17.
“Coach Harbison has great wisdom and insight,” Drinkwitz said. “He understands that it is bigger than football and is a great role model to our players.”
Harbison’s appearance in the national title game came as Auburn’s co-defensive defensive and safeties coach during the 2013 season, and he has been named on the nation’s top 25 recruiters by Rivals on two occasions: in 2005 and 2010.
A native of Shelby, Harbison graduated from Crest High School and recorded 11 interceptions as a college defensive back at Gardner-Webb from 1978-81. He signed with the Buffalo Bills as a rookie free agent in 1982 before spending two years (1983-84) as a professional player with the Boston/New Orleans Breakers of the USFL.
In its first year with Drinkwitz leading the program, Appalachian State officially opens the 2019 season with a home game against East Tennessee State on Aug. 31. The Mountaineers return 17 of their primary 22 starters on offense and defense from an 11-2 team in 2018.