Ponce Returns to App State as Offensive Coordinator
BOONE, NC — App State has hired Frank Ponce as its head coach Shawn Clark‘s staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Clark announced Monday.
Ponce served as the Mountaineers’ co-offensive coordinator (passing game) and quarterbacks coach for six seasons from 2013-2018, and then as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2021. He was the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Miami Hurricanes in his hometown during the 2022 season.
Over the course of his two previous stints at Boone, Ponce helped the Mountaineers win three Sun Belt Championships and reach another Sun Belt title game, as well as lead offenses that broke several school records.
“We are pleased to welcome back a man who is very familiar to everyone in our program,” Clark said. “Frank’s resume speaks for itself and he knows what it takes to win championships at App State. I’m glad he’s back leading our offense and quarterback room.”
As App State’s offensive coordinator in 2021, Ponce oversaw the quarterback Follow Brice set a single-season program record for passing yards (3,337) as the Mountaineers extended their consecutive-year FBS lead to 10 with a 1,000-yard rusher while averaging 34.5 points per game. The offense helped App State post a 10-win regular season and win the Sun Belt’s East Division title.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Coach Clark, Doug Gillin and Chancellor Everts for welcoming me back,” said Ponce. “I’m really happy to be back on the mountain. Boone holds many wonderful memories and moments for me, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to make more. I’m willing to do anything for Appalachian State.”
After helping lead App State to a 48-16 record and three consecutive Sun Belt championships in his first five FBS seasons at Boone, Ponce followed Scott Satterfield to Louisville after the 2018 season and spent 2019 and 2020 as a Quarterbacks Coach and Cardinals Passing Coordinator.
The detail-oriented Ponce oversaw the development of Louisville quarterback and new full-time starter Malik Cunningham in 2019, who set the school record with an efficiency rating of 194.45 — a number that would have ranked No. 2 in the country had another pass attempt been made.
Cunningham threw for 4,682 yards with 42 touchdowns, rushed for 1,091 yards with 13 touchdowns, and completed 63.6 percent of his throws in his two seasons with Ponce, becoming the only quarterback in Louisville to ever pass four touchdown passes of at least 75 yards would have.
Three-year App State starter Zac Thomas was a relatively unknown commodity, replacing record quarterback Taylor Lamb in 2018, and Ponce helped Thomas make an instant splash as a freshman starter who went on to become Sun Belt’s Offensive Player of the Year to provide 2,039 passing yards, 504 rushing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, 10 rushing touchdowns and just six interceptions during an 11-2 season.
Ponce distinguished himself as a high school coach in his home state of Florida from 1992 to 2006 before joining Mario Cristobal’s staff at FIU as wide receivers coach from 2007 to 2012, with Satterfield working with both as FIU’s offensive line coordinator from 2010 to 2011 . When Satterfield became App State’s head coach in 2013, he hired Ponce to coordinate the Mountaineers’ passing game and coach the quarterbacks.
Under Ponce’s mentorship, Lamb finished his App State career as the school and Sun Belt record holder with 90 touchdown passes. The only FBS quarterbacks in 2017 with career totals of at least 9,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards were JT Barrett of Lamb, Ohio State and Lamar Jackson of Louisville.
With 27 touchdown passes and six interceptions as a senior, Lamb had the third-best season for an App State quarterback in touchdown-to-interception ratio, and he led the conference in passing efficiency in three of his four seasons.
As a freshman App State assistant, Ponce managed the Southern Conference’s second-ranked pass offense (271.8 yards per game) a season before Lamb became a redshirt freshman starter. He helped quarterback Kameron Bryant set a school record for a season’s completion (71.2) and throwing for 2,713 yards, though Bryant came into the season with just 13 snaps.
Ponce is also known for his recruiting skills, having been named the Sun Belt’s top recruiter by ESPN.com in 2010.
During his six seasons with the Golden Panthers, he coached six of the top 10 wide receivers in FIU history. His most notable student at FIU was three-time All-American TY Hilton, who played 11 years in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys.
Prior to FIU, Ponce was one of the top high school coaches in football-rich South Florida, where he served as the head coach and offense coordinator at storied Miami Senior High from 2004-2006 and as the head coach at Coral Reef High from 2002. 03. He began his coaching career with stints as an assistant at La Progresiva Presbyterian School (offensive coordinator – 1992), Coral Gables High (quarterbacks/wide receivers – 1993–96), Miami Northwestern High (quarterbacks – 1998), Miami Central High (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks – 1999-2000) and Miami Killian High (offensive coordinator – 2001). As a coach at Miami Central, he mentored Willis McGahee, who later became an All-America running back at the University of Miami and a two-time NFL Pro Bowler.
A Miami native, Ponce enjoyed a successful playing career as a quarterback at Miami Senior, where he was team MVP and a finalist for the 1988 Miami Herald Hispanic Athlete of the Year Award. He then spent two years as the starting quarterback at Arizona Western College, where he earned an associate’s degree in art in 1990. In 1997, he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Florida International.
Ponce and his wife Christine are parents to two daughters, Isabel and Leah, and two sons, Frankie and Lucas.
PONCE AT A GLANCE
1992: La Progresiva Presbyterian School (Offensive Coordinator)
1993-96: Coral Gables HS (Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers)
1998: Miami Northwestern HS (Quarterbacks)
1999-2000: Miami Central HS (Offensive Coordinator/QBs)
2002-03: Miami Coral Reef HS (Head Coach)
2004-06: Miami Senior HS (head coach/offensive coordinator)
2007-12: Florida International (Wide Receiver)
2013-18: App State (Co-Offensive Coordinator, Passing Game/QBs)
2019-20: Louisville (Passing Game Coordinator/QBs)
2021: App State (Offensive Coordinator/QBs)
2022: Miami (Passing Game Coordinator/QBs)
1989-90: Arizona West (QB)
Alma mater: Florida International, 1997
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Birthday: April 3, 1971
sons: Frankie, Luke
daughters: Isabel, Leah