OFFENSIVE COACHING STAFF
Travis Mikel is in his fifth year as an assistant coach on the Southeastern Louisiana University staff, serving as offensive line coach and the team’s Director of Football Operations. Before his arrival in Hammond, Mikel spent three seasons at Delta State under head coach Ron Roberts where he served in the same capacity, including the last two years as offensive line coach.
Mikel returned in 2016 after spending the 2015 season as an assistant coach at Hammond High School. The 2016 Lion offensive line was led by senior Taylor Gadbois, who earned third team Associated Press All-America honors. Gadbois was also named first team All-Louisiana and All-Southland Conference and was joined on the all-conference team by junior Travis Romero.
Mikel’s offensive line group helped SLU’s prolific offense in 2014, as the Lions repeated as Southland Conference champions. Mikel oversaw the development of first team All-Southland Conference and All-Louisiana senior tackle Jonathan Braddock. Junior guard/center Joe Graves joined Braddock on the all-league team, while also earning CoSIDA Academic All-District VI, FCS ADA Academic All-Star and Southland Conference All-Academic honors.
The 2013 Lions had one of the top offensive seasons in program history, thanks in large part to the work of Mikel’s offensive line troops. The talented offensive line included a pair of first team All-Southland Conference selections in senior left tackle Gasten Gabriel and senior center Marshall Paris. Joining Gabriel and Paris on the All-Southland team were honorable mention selections Graves and Braddock. Graves was also outstanding in the classroom, earning first team CoSIDA Academic All-District VI and Southland Conference All-Academic accolades.
In his first season at Southeastern, Mikel worked an offensive line that was paced by All-Southland Conference performer Gabriel. Along with fellow starters Paris, Geremy Wilson, Corey Boothe and Paul Roppolo, the offensive line gelled as the season progressed, opening holes for freshmen running backs Xavier Roberson and Rasheed Harrell while limiting opponents to five sacks in seven league games.
At Delta State, Mikel coached Division II All-Americans Chad Schroeder (2008), Trevar Deed (2008-2010), Brad Latham (2009), Phillip Yandall (2010) and Darrell Leopold (2011). He also worked with 10 All-GSC and All-South Region Statesmen.
The DSU offensive line, under Mikel’s guidance, helped the Statesmen finish 12th in Division II in total offense and 21st nationally in passing offense. The Statesmen led the Gulf South Conference in scoring offense while the offensive line helped pave the way for quarterback Micah Davis to finish third overall for the Harlon Hill Trophy – the Division II equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.
In 2010, Mikel helped guide the Statesmen to the NCAA DII National Championship game and their third Gulf South Conference title in four years with an 11-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the GSC. DSU fell short of their goal of winning the title on a last second game-winning field goal by Minnesota-Duluth 20-17.
In Mikel’s first season as offensive line coach, the Statesmen allowed the fewest sacks in the Gulf South Conference while producing one of the top offenses in NCAA Division II. DSU averaged 31.9 points and 452.9 yards of total offense per game.
Mikel’s linemen allowed Davis to become the first 4,000-yard passer in school history while Deed shattered the school all-purpose yardage (5,144) and scoring (264 points/44 touchdowns) records.
Yandall (LT) and Leopold (C) earned postseason honors for DSU under Mikel’s direction. Yandall was named a Daktronics Honorable Mention All-American while both Yandall and Leopold were named All-GSC and All-South Region.
In 2009, the Statesmen offense averaged 410.4 yards per game, while scoring 27.1 points per game. Senior quarterback Garrett DeWitt closed his career as the second-leading passer in school history with 6,945 yards, while amassing 7,145 yards of total offense. Junior all-purpose back Deed finished the regular season leading the GSC in scoring with 15 total touchdowns.
With assistance from Mikel, four-year starter Brad Latham (OL) was named to the All-GSC First Team and All-Super Region Two teams. Latham also participated in the Cactus Bowl, the Division II All-Star Game in Kingsville, Texas.
In 2008, the Statesmen receiving corps proved to be one of the best in the Gulf South Conference and the nation. Two Statesmen, Schroeder (AFCA) and Deed (FB Gazette) received All-American honors after the season.
A 2007 graduate of Delta State University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Mikel was a 2006 Honorable Mention All-American, as well as an All-Gulf South Conference Second Team member.
From 2004-2007, Mikel served in several positions along the offensive line. Mikel’s All-American nod came while serving as center during his junior year.
Mikel and his wife Rainey reside in Hammond. The couple welcomed their first child, Cam, in January 2017.
Jake Zbydniewski is in his third season with the Southeastern Louisiana football coaching staff. Zbydniewski coaches the team’s tight ends and fullbacks.
In his first season working with the tight ends and fullbacks, Zbydniewski mentored a group that included first team All-Southland Conference and All-Louisiana selection Juwaan Rogers. The team’s top run blocker, Rogers developed into one of FCS’ premier fullbacks under Zbydniewski’s tutelage.
Zbydniewski, who was a defensive assistant and equipment manager in 2015, has a lasting relationship with head coach Ron Roberts. Zbydniewski started his association with the Lion signal caller at Delta State, where he was a three-year starter on the offensive line for Roberts.
Following his playing career, Zbydniewski stayed on Roberts’ staff at DSU, serving as a student assistant to current Lion offensive line coach Travis Mikel and equipment manager.
Zbydniewski came to Hammond with Roberts prior to the 2012 season and held down the same position he did in the final season at Delta State. In 2014, he was on the Hammond High School coaching staff before returning to SLU in 2015.
A native of Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, Zbydniewski earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies from Southeastern in 2013.
Zbydniewski is single and resides in Hammond.
Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks
Matt Barrett is in his second season with the Southeastern Louisiana football coaching staff. Barrett serves as the team’s offensive coordinator and coach the team’s quarterbacks.
In his first season with the Lions, Barrett helped SLU to a 7-4 overall record. The Lion offense led the Southland Conference and ranked fourth in the nation with 16.2 yards per completion. Under Barrett’s tutelage, senior quarterback Justin Alo led the nation in pass yards per completion and senior wide receiver Brandon Acker topped FCS in yards per reception.
Senior offensive tackle Taylor Gadbois earned Associated Press All-America honors during Barrett’s debut season. Gadbois, Acker, senior fullback Juwaan Rogers, junior wide receiver Juwan Dickey and junior offensive lineman Travis Romero all represented the Lion offense on the All-Southland Conference teams. Rogers and Gadbois were each first team All-Louisiana selections.
A native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Barrett has spent the past four seasons as the wide receivers coach under Willie Fritz, who was named the head coach at Tulane prior to the 2016 season. In 2015, Barrett was part of a staff that helped Georgia Southern to a 9-4 overall record and a 58-27 victory over Bowling Green in the GoDaddy.com Bowl – the first-ever bowl appearance for GSU.
The 2014 Eagle receivers hauled in 90 passes on the way to the Sun Belt Conference championship and an undefeated 8-0 league record. Prior to his time at GSU, Barrett spent two years on Fritz’s staff at Sam Houston State, helping the Bearkats to back-to-back FCS playoff appearances – including a berth in the 2012 national championship game.
Barrett came to SHSU after spending a combined nine seasons as the offensive coordinator at Missouri Southern State and Catawba College. A 1999 graduate of North Carolina State, Barrett began his coaching career as a defensive backs and special teams coach at Orange County High School.
Barrett and his wife Gretchen are the parents of sons, Samuel and Daniel.
Assistant Football Coach - Running backs
Former Southeastern Louisiana standout Joe Graves is in his second season with the Lions’ football coaching staff as an assistant coach. Graves oversees the team’s running backs.
Graves’ top charge in his debut season was sophomore running back Julius Maracalin. Under his guidance, Maracalin earned second team All-Southland Conference honors. The Plaquemine, Louisiana native rushed for 747 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the Lions in 2016.
Graves is one of the most decorated student-athletes from head coach Ron Roberts’ Southeastern tenure. The Covington, Louisiana native was a three-year starter on the offensive line for the Lions and earned All-Southland Conference honors each of his final three seasons, helping SLU to Southland Conference championships in 2013 and 2014.
In addition to his production on the field, Graves was also lauded for his academic performance. He was twice named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team and was a three-time Southland Conference All-Academic selection. As a junior, Graves earned a spot of the FCS ADA Academic All-Star Team.
Graves graduated from SLU with a bachelor’s degree in history in May 2016.