Nic McKissic-Luke is in his fourth season as the running backs coach for the Youngstown State football program.
Since his arrival, YSU tailbacks, and offense, have benefited greatly from McKissic-Luke's coaching style.
In 2018, senior Tevin McCaster earned his second straight first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honor. He is the first YSU tailback since P.J. Mays in 2001 and 2002 to earn the first-team honor in consecutive seasons. McCaster had seven 100-yard performances and rushed for a career-high 1,235 yards on 269 carries and scored 12 touchdowns. In the eight league game, he rushed for 856 yards on 201 carries. For his career, McCaster rushed for 2,970 yards on 626 carries and scored 36 touchdowns.
Sophomore Christian Turner led the team in receptions with a career-high 24 catches. Turner had 196 yards and touchdown during the year. McCaster also added 11 catches for 103 yards and a score.
In 2017, McCaster became YSU's featured back and carried an impressive load with 1,066 yards on 221 attempts and 13 touchdowns. McCaster earned first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors for his efforts. In the eight league games, he rushed for 803 yards on 171 attempts and 10 touchdowns. He had four 100-yard rushing performances on the year, including a high of 183 yards vs. South Dakota State.
Turner emerged in his first year and was named to the conference's all-newcomer squad. Turner finished second on the team in all-purpose yardage with 997 yards, including 440 on 83 carries. Turner and McCaster combined to catch 29 passes on the season. Turner led the way with 21 grabs.
In his first campaign with the Penguins in 2016, the tailbacks were key cog in YSU's drive to its first National Championship Game appearance since 1999.
Martin Ruiz was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection while Jody Webb was an honorable-mention selection. Both tailbacks rushed for more than 1,000 yards with Webb leading the way with 1,342 yards while Ruiz had 1,153. Webb caught fire in the FCS Playoffs rushing for 669 in the five games, an average of 133.8 per game. At one point during the campaign Webb had six straight 100-yard rushing performances, a school record.
A new face stepped up throughout the season in key moments in McCaster. McCaster finished with 638 yards on 129 carries and was second on the team with 11 touchdowns. His biggest contribution was a 29-carry, 154-yard, three-touchdown effort in the semifinals victory at Eastern Washington.
At Missouri State, YSU had three tailbacks rush for more than 100 yards in a game for the first time when Webb, Ruiz and Joe Alessi all eclipsed the mark.
For the year, the four tailbacks combined for 3,356 yards rushing on 578 carries and scored 31 rushing touchdowns. Webb had a career year receiving as well catching 37 passes for 416 yards. As a unit, YSU averaged 242.7 yards rushing per game, its highest total average since 2001.
McKissic-Luke spent three highly-successful seasons at fellow MVFC school South Dakota State helping the Jackrabbits to the FCS Playoffs in each year.
In 2015, SDSU finished 8-4 losing to Montana in the first round of the FCS playoffs. In a primary passing offense, the Jacks running backs combined for 1,368 yards and 15 touchdowns.
During his first two campaigns he worked with consensus All-American Zach Zenner. Zenner eventually signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent and has been an active member of the squad throughout his career.
Zenner shattered several Missouri Valley Football Conference career and season records and finished his career third in FCS history with 6,548 rushing yards and 8,211 all-purpose yards.
In 2014, Zenner rushed for 2,019 yards and scored 22 touchdowns in 14 games while finishing sixth in voting for the Walton Payton Award. He averaged 144.2 yards per contest, with 11 100-yard performances, including a 252-yard four-touchdown day at Montana State. He also caught 28 passes and had four receiving touchdowns. He had 2,350 all-purpose yards for the season.
In 2013, Zenner had 2,015 yards rushing on 351 carries and scored 23 touchdowns in 14 games. He averaged 143.9 yards per game and finished with 12 100-yard performances, highlights by a 249-yard afternoon at Northern Arizona in the playoffs. He caught 21 passes for 251 yards and two scores. He finished with 2,266 all-purpose yards on the campaign.
McKissic-Luke previously spent the five seasons as running backs and slot receivers coach at Benedict College, an NCAA Division II program in Columbia, S.C. During his tenure, the Tigers led the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in rushing in 2009 and 2010, with the 2009 squad ranking seventh in Division II with an average of 250 yards per game.
In addition, McKissic-Luke worked two summers (2011, 2012) with the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League through the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Internship.
As a player, McKissic-Luke began his career at the University of Alabama before transferring to Alabama A&M University. In three seasons (2004-06) at Alabama A&M, he went on to finish second in career rushing yards with more than 2,000 yards. As a senior he had 640 yards rushing while helping lead the Bulldogs to the Southwestern Athletic Conference title.