Frank Ponce, who helped Appalachian State win three straight Sun Belt Championships during his first tenure in Boone, is returning to serve as the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Ponce was App State’s co-offensive coordinator in charge of the passing game and quarterbacks coach for six seasons from 2013-18, and head coach Shawn Clark worked closely with him as the Mountaineers co-offensive coordinator for the running game for the final three years of that stretch.
“I’m very excited to welcome Frank back to our coaching staff and give him control of our offense,” Clark said. “He is an amazing teacher of quarterbacks, a great recruiter, and most importantly, a good role model and mentor for young people. He loves App State, and we’re glad to welcome him and his wife, Christine, back to the mountain.”
When Scott Satterfield left App State to become Louisville’s head coach, Ponce joined the Cardinals’ staff. He was Louisville’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for each of the last two seasons.
After helping lead App State to a 48-16 record and three consecutive Sun Belt championships during his five FBS seasons in Boone, the detail-oriented Ponce oversaw the 2019 development of Louisville quarterback and new full-time starter Malik Cunningham, who set the school record with a passing efficiency rating of 194.45 — a number that would have ranked No. 2 nationally with one more pass attempt.
Cunningham threw for 4,682 yards with 42 touchdowns, rushed for 1,091 yards with 13 touchdowns and completed 63.6% of his throws in his two seasons with Ponce, becoming the only Louisville quarterback to ever have four touchdown passes of at least 75 yards.
“I am thrilled to be returning to a place that is filled with traditional values, a wonderful coaching staff and the greatest fans in college football,” Ponce said. “I am humbled that Coach Clark would entrust me with this wonderful opportunity to lead the team as the offensive coordinator and can’t wait to experience this season with the Mountaineers.”
Three-year App State starter Zac Thomas was a relatively unknown commodity replacing record-breaking quarterback Taylor Lamb back in 2018, and Ponce helped Thomas make an immediate splash as a first-year starter who developed into the Sun Belt’s Offensive Player of the Year with 2,039 passing yards, 504 rushing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, 10 rushing touchdowns and just six interceptions during an 11-2 season.
The Mountaineers will have a new starting quarterback again in 2021, and Ponce rejoins several familiar faces at a program that maintained success on both sides of the ball in 2020 with top 25 rankings in total offense and total defense even though App State had its third head coach in three years, third offensive coordinator in three years and fourth defensive coordinator in four years. Clark was the only first-year FBS head coach to win at least nine games in 2020.
Ponce and his wife, Christine, are the parents of two daughters, Isabel and Leah, and a pair of sons, Frankie and Lucas.