Hunter Sims, Howard Payne University’s director of athletics, announced late Friday that Braxton Harris will be the next head coach of the Yellow Jacket football program.

Harris comes to Howard Payne after serving the past three seasons as Texas Lutheran University’s assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator.

“We are excited to announce that Braxton Harris is HPU’s new head football coach,” said Sims, who was the Yellow Jackets head football coach last season before opting to soley focus on his athletic director duties. “We are fortunate to have Coach Harris lead the 112th edition of HPU Yellow Jacket football.”

In his time at TLU, Harris helped guide a previously 0-10 program to a 25-5 record over three years and three consecutive conference championships (2013, 2014 and 2015).

“Braxton is a great fit for Howard Payne University and the type of leader we want leading our football program,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president. “I am confident he will lead the football program into a bright and successful future.”

Harris expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to lead HPU’s football program.

“I am very excited about joining the Howard Payne family and taking the reins of a college program with more than 110 years of history,” Harris said. “I am thankful to Dr. Bill Ellis and Hunter Sims for giving me this opportunity to make an impact on the HPU football program and to increase the Yellow Jackets’ standing in the American Southwest Conference.”

Harris joined the TLU football coaching staff in 2011, coaching the defensive ends and linebackers while also serving as recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator. In 2012, he coached the linebackers and again worked as the recruiting coordinator. In 2013, Harris coached a TLU defensive unit that contributed greatly to the team’s SCAC Championship and No. 6 national ranking in turnover margin - plus 1.6 per game. Harris’ TLU defense forced 29 turnovers in 2013 and achieved a national ranking of 21st in that category. TLU was 23rd nationally in passes intercepted (17) and 35th nationally in fumbles recovered.

Harris came to TLU from Waco High School, where he served as the varsity safeties coach. Prior to his time at Waco High, Harris was the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at NCAA Division III power University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Harris started with the Cru in 2006 as a student assistant and recruiting coordinator and served as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons. In his four years on the staff with UMHB, the Cru won four ASC Championships, advanced to the NCAA Division III semifinals twice (2007 and 2008) and advanced as far as the NCAA Division III quarterfinals in 2006.

Harris played as a quarterback at UMHB from 2003 to 2005 and was a part the NCAA Division III national finalist team of 2004.

“Coach Harris is a proven winner on the field and an even better man off the field,” Sims added. “I am most excited to see how his commitment to his faith, family and student-athletes overflows on to the rest of campus. Go Jackets!”

Harris graduated from UMHB in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Education and with a Master in Education Administration in 2009.

Harris’s wife, Jennifer, is a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. Braxton and Jennifer are the proud parents of a son, Brooks, born in 2012 and twin sons, Fisher and Cooper, born in 2015.