Billy Napier is in his third season on the Alabama coaching staff as wide receivers coach. Napier joined the Crimson Tide staff after serving as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at Colorado State in 2012 for former Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. Napier, who was an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide in 2011, returned to the Capstone to replace Mike Groh, who accepted an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Bears.
Napier’s unit was led by Alabama’s first Biletnikoff Award winner Amari Cooper who caught a school- and SEC-record 124 passes for a UA record 1,727 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He led the country in receptions (124), while ranking second nationally in receiving yards (1,727), receiving touchdowns (16) and catches per game (8.9) while ranking third in yards per game (123.4). Cooper, a Heisman Trophy finalist and unanimous first team All-American, smashed all of the Tide’s career receiving marks with 228 receptions, 3,463 yards and tying the SEC record with 31 receiving touchdowns. Senior DeAndrew White provided Alabama with a dangerous and reliable target opposite Cooper with 40 receptions for 504 yards and four scores. Christion Jones is third on the team with 19 receptions (264).
In his first season as the Crimson Tide’s receivers coach, Napier built a deep and talented group of receivers. Alabama had four players with at least 32 receptions, led by sophomore Cooper with 45 catches for 736 yards. The wide receivers accounted for 72.1 percent of the passes caught in 2013 and 20 of the 30 passing touchdowns. Kevin Norwood produced a career year with seven touchdowns and 568 receiving yards on 38 grabs. Jones also caught 36 balls for 349 yards and White hauled in 32 catches for 534 yards and four scores.
Injuries forced Napier to go deep down the bench looking for quarterbacks during his one season in Fort Collins. The Rams saw three quarterbacks play significant snaps as the starter with Garrett Grayson going down early in the season, M.J. McPeek following two weeks later forcing redshirt freshman Conner Smith into action. The trio combined to throw for 2,520 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2012 as Colorado State won three of their final five games.
Napier spent the 2011 season on the Alabama staff as an offensive analyst, helping the Crimson Tide win the 2011 BCS National Championship. The Tide ranked 16th in scoring offense, 30th in total offense and 17th in rushing offense in 2011.
Prior to Alabama, Napier spent seven of the previous eight years in two different stints at Clemson. During Napier’s final two seasons at Clemson he earned an elevated position as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. At the age of 29, he became the youngest coordinator in Clemson history. In his first season as CU’s coordinator, the 2009 Tigers scored a school-record 436 points and scored 54 touchdowns (third-most in school history), averaged 5.73 yards per play (fourth best) and finished as the ACC Atlantic Division champions. Quarterback Kyle Parker was named a Freshman All-American and nine players Napier coached from 2009-10 went on to have careers in the NFL.
Napier split his time from 2006-08 as Clemson’s recruiting coordinator. In those three seasons, he compiled two top 25 recruiting classes, according to Rivals.com, and in 2008, his class was tabbed as the second-best in the nation by ESPN.com. Known to his peers as a top recruiter, Napier has signed several players who went on to the NFL, including Kavell Conner, Crezdon Butler, Brandon Thompson and Marcus Gilchrist. Fourteen players from Clemson’s 2011 two-deep roster were signed by Napier, including five who earned all-ACC honors.
Napier was the 2007-08 tight ends coach at Clemson, helping lead the Tigers to two bowl games and a prolific offense. The 2007 season featured a 9-4 record and the ACC’s highest-scoring offense. In his first year back with Clemson (2006), Napier worked primarily with the Tigers’ tight ends but also was responsible for the punt team and assisted in several special-teams capacities. The 2006 Tigers led the ACC in total offense, rushing and scoring offense, advancing to the Music City Bowl. Clemson averaged 410.9 yards per game and 32.7 points, more than doubling its opponent’s totals. Tight end Hunter Thomas started all 11 games for the Tigers, averaging 19.1 yards per reception. Michael Palmer, who Napier coached for three seasons, went on to the NFL. He also worked with the special teams units, helping develop one of the most talented players in Clemson history, C.J. Spiller.
In 2005, Napier spent one season as the quarterbacks coach at South Carolina State. The Bulldogs finished the year 9-2 and ranked among the nation’s best in several offensive categories, including: rushing (12th), passing efficiency (15th) and scoring offense (17th). S.C. State also had the country’s fourth-best turnover margin, committing only 11 turnovers, roughly one-third of the total from the previous season (32). Napier developed Cleve McCoy and molded him into the MEAC Player of the Year. He also recruited offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath, who became a unanimous All-America selection and was drafted by the Detroit Lions. Napier was offered the position of offensive coordinator after the 2005 season, but declined, instead taking over as the tight ends coach at Clemson.
Napier began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Clemson in 2003-04. In 2003, he worked with video coordinating. The Tigers won nine games, including the Peach Bowl against Tennessee. The following season, Napier was the on-field graduate assistant on defense, and gained his first experience with recruiting off the field.
As a player, Napier was a four-year letterwinner and two-time All-Southern Conference selection as the starting quarterback at Furman. The Paladins won two conference championships and in 2001, Napier’s junior year, advanced to the Division I-AA national championship game, losing to Montana. He completed 64.8 percent of his career passes, setting a school record. As the team captain during a record-setting senior season, Napier amassed 2,475 passing yards, also a Furman record, and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding FCS offensive player.
Napier grew up in Chatsworth, Ga., and graduated from Murray County High School in 1998. He is married to the former Ali Gunn and the couple has a daughter Annie and a son Sammy Nelson. He earned his bachelor’s degree in health & exercise science from Furman in 2002.