Roger Harriott knows what it’s like to build a football program from scratch into a state champion.
On Thursday morning, Harriott was officially entrusted with the job of keeping one of the nation’s elite at the highest level.
After a nearly-two-month coaching search, St. Thomas Aquinas introduced Harriott, an alumnus of the school, as its new football coach.
“It feels great to be back at my alma mater,” Harriott said. “This was a long time coming and I’ve always held high admiration for St. Thomas Aquinas and what’s been accomplished here for so many years. I’ve always had close ties to a lot of people at Aquinas and they were very influential in me becoming the person I am today.”
Harriott resigned from his post as running backs coach at Florida Atlantic University recently after spending one season with the Owls.
That stint followed his eight-year run, establishing the football program at University School of Nova Southeastern in Davie into a state powerhouse.
While coaching the Suns, Harriott went 78-15 and led them to a state championship in 2012 and a state runner-up finish.
Harriott, 38, now inherits an Aquinas program that has won eight state championships and two national championships. The Raiders are coming off a 14-1 season in which they won the Class 7A title.
“Roger has head coaching experience and is a St. Thomas alum,” Aquinas athletic director George Smith said. “He’s had a solid career both as a player and coach. If you talk about putting him in a position of high expectations, he got valuable experience with that at FAU. Most of all, he’s one of our guys and he knows our system.”
Harriott takes over for Rocco Casullo, who resigned in mid-January after leading Aquinas to the Class 7A state championship this past season. Casullo went 47-9 in four seasons as head coach and led the Raiders to two state titles.
Harriott will bring in former Plantation High and UCF quarterback Ryan Schneider as his co-offensive coordinator along with incumbent coordinator Bryan Baucom. Schneider coached with Harriott at University School as well and was present Thursday when he was introduced to the team. Harriott said the rest of the current coaching staff will remain intact.
Aquinas has continually maintained its program at a national level, winning 10 of its past 12 games against out-of-state opponents. The Raiders have already scheduled Miami Booker T. Washington, winner of 41 consecutive games, for their regular-season opener this fall, and have plans to schedule at least one out-of-state opponent as well.
“Being the coach and athletic director at University School in a very short amount of time was a lot of fun and I appreciate the opportunity they gave me to establish my reputation there,” Harriott said. “[Coaching at Aquinas] is the chance of a lifetime and it feels great to be home. I’m looking forward to doing great things.”