Zarnell Fitch
Sport(s)Football
Current position
TitleDefensive Line Coach
TeamTCU
ConferenceBig 12
Biographical details
Born (1983-07-06) July 6, 1983 (age 37)
Spencer, Oklahoma
Alma materTCU
Playing career
Position(s)Defensive tackle

Zarnell Stephen Fitch (born July 6, 1983) is an American football coach and former player. He was signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2006, spent time with two other NFL teams and played in several other professional leagues. He is currently the Defensive Line Coach at TCU, his alma mater.

Early life

Fitch was born and raised by a single mother in Spencer, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City. He graduated from Star Spencer High School in 2001.[1]

Playing career

College

The first two seasons of Fitch's college football career came at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, where he was a two-year starter playing defensive tackle for the Bulldogs. As a sophomore in 2002, he totalled 48 tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries. He signed a national letter of intent to play at Tennessee in 2003,[2] but returned to Navarro that fall to completed his junior college academic requirements while not participating in football.

Following his one-year hiatus from competitive football, Fitch enrolled at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas in January 2004.[3] That fall, he played in eight games for the Horned Frogs, registering 10 tackles.[4] In the first game of his senior season, Fitch registered a tackle for loss as TCU upset #5 Oklahoma, 17-10 in Norman.[5] He went on to start three games that season, helping the Frogs win a conference title in their first year as members of the Mountain West Conference. He registered 24 tackles for the season to go along with 1.5 sacks and 2 interceptions[6] - including one in a 27-24 victory over Iowa State in the 2005 Houston Bowl.[7]

Fitch graduated from TCU in May 2006 with a degree in communication and a minor in social work.[8]

Professional

After going undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft and sitting out the majority of that season, Fitch signed with the New York Jets in December and assigned to their practice squad.[9] In the spring of 2007, the Jets assigned Fitch to the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europa where he started five games and helped lead the Galaxy to a berth in World Bowl XV.[10]

Following an appearance in one preseason game for the Jets in 2007, Fitch was waived on August 28.[11] He then signed with the Baltimore Ravens, spending the majority of the 2007 season with their practice squade but also being promoted to the active roster for 4 games.[12] He signed with the Washington Redskins on July 27, 2008, but was waived two days later.[13]

Fitch spent the 2009 season with the Green Bay Blizzard of the now-defunct AF2, earning second-team All-AF2 honors[14] He then spent the 2010 season with the Milwaukee Iron of the Arena Football League, registering one sack in 9 games.[15]

Coaching career

The seeds of Fitch's coaching career were sewn during his playing days, as his academic hiatus at Navarro JC in 2003 led to a battlefield promotion to serve as the Bulldogs' defensive line coach at age 19, and he served as a graduate assistant at TCU for part of the 2006 season prior to his signing with the Jets.[16]

In 2011, Fitch became an assistant coach at Lincoln High School in Dallas. After two seasons, he was promoted to become the Tigers' head coach, leading them to a 7-4 record in 2013 that included a win over Dallas Carter in the Texas Class 4A State Playoffs.[17]

Fitch returned to TCU in 2014, when his former coach Gary Patterson hired him to become the Director of High School Relations on his staff,[18] a position that placed him at the center of the Frogs' recruiting operation. Two seasons later, Fitch was promoted to the on-field coaching staff as TCU's Defensive Line Coach.[19]

Under Fitch's watch, four different TCU defensive linemen have earned 1st Team All-Big 12 honors:

Additionally, current Horned Frog defensive tackles Ross Blacklock and Corey Bethley were named Freshman All-Americans in 2017.[23]

References

  1. "Good Attitude Key for Frog Nose Guard". October 13, 2005. https://www.tcu360.com/story/good-attitude-key-for-frog-nose-guard-12292851/.
  2. "Tennessee Vol Football Signees". February 5, 2003. https://www.chattanoogan.com/2003/2/5/32174/Tennessee-Vol-Football-Signees.aspx.
  3. "TCU Inks 21 To National Letters Of Intent". February 4, 2004. https://gofrogs.com/news/2004/2/4/TCU_Inks_21_To_National_Letters_Of_Intent.aspx?path=football.
  4. "TCU 2004 Football Stats". November 27, 2004. https://texaschristian_ftp.sidearmsports.com/custompages/sports/m-footbl/stats/2004-2005/teamcume.html.
  5. "TCU-Oklahoma Game Book". September 3, 2005. https://gofrogs.com/documents/2018/7/16/20140__m_footbl__TCU-OU_05_book.pdf.
  6. "TCU 2005 Football Stats". December 31, 2005. https://texaschristian_ftp.sidearmsports.com/custompages/sports/m-footbl/stats/2005-2006/teamcume.html.
  7. "TCU defeats Iowa State, 27-24, to win EV1.net Houston Bowl". December 31, 2005. https://gofrogs.com/news/2005/12/31/TCU_defeats_Iowa_State_27_24_to_win_EV1_net_Houston_Bowl.aspx?path=football.
  8. "Zarnell Fitch TCU coaching bio". GoFrogs.com. https://gofrogs.com/staff.aspx?staff=359. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  9. "Fitch signed by New York Jets". December 28, 2006. https://gofrogs.com/news/2006/12/28/Fitch_signed_by_New_York_Jets.aspx.
  10. "Thirty-four NFL players compete in World Bowl". June 22, 2007. http://www.nfl.com/global/34players.
  11. "Transactions for August 28, 2007". August 28, 2007. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2007-08-28-0708280202-story.html.
  12. "Transactions for November 22, 2007". November 22, 2007. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2007-08-28-0708280202-story.html.
  13. "Transactions for July 29, 2008". July 30, 2008. https://newspaperarchive.com/shelby-star-jul-30-2008-p-9/.
  14. "2009 All-AF2 teams announced". August 5, 2009. http://www.ksla.com/story/10854732/battle-wings-put-eight-players-on-all-af2-teams/.
  15. "2010 Milwaukee Iron Stats". August 21, 2010. http://www.arenafan.com/teams/Milwaukee_Iron-215/history/2010/.
  16. "Zarnell Fitch is a Rock Star Football Recruiter". Fall 2018. https://magazine.tcu.edu/fall-2018/zarnell-fitch-is-a-rock-star-football-recruiter/.
  17. "2014 Lincoln Tigers season". MaxPreps.com. http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/lincoln-tigers-(dallas,tx)/football-fall-13/schedule.htm. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  18. "TCU Hires Zarnell Fitch". June 16, 2014. https://www.frogsowar.com/college-football/2014/6/16/5815906/tcu-hires-zarnell-fitch.
  19. "TCU announces coaching staff changes". January 21, 2016. https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/tcuhornedfrogs/2016/01/21/tcu-announces-staff-changes-including-promotion-former-player-zarnell-fitch-defensive-line-coach.
  20. "2016 All-Big 12 Football Honors Announced". December 7, 2016. http://www.big12sports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10410&ATCLID=211345089.
  21. "2017 All-Big 12 Football Honors Announced". November 30, 2017. http://www.big12sports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10410&ATCLID=211687744.
  22. "2018 All-Big 12 Football Honors Announced". November 28, 2018. http://www.big12sports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10410&ATCLID=211782067.
  23. "TCU Freshmen earn All-American honors". January 8, 2018. https://gofrogs.com/news/2018/1/8/Blacklock_Named_Freshman_All_American.aspx.

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