Former Elon team captain and four-year letterman Chris Bland joined the East Carolina University football program in the spring of 2009 as a defensive staff assistant and will begin his third season with the Pirates this spring.
Prior to his appointment at ECU, Bland served as assistant football coach at alma mater West Brunswick (N.C.) High School where he worked directly with the team's defensive backs. During his one-year stay at WBHS, he helped the Trojans to a 7-5 record and state playoff appearance, and tutored a pair of all-conference and all-county performers.
Bland completed a notable four-year playing career in 2007 as the Phoenix' starting strong safety. He was credited with 64 tackles from his secondary position to help guide Elon to a 7-4 mark and a final No. 23 national ranking among all Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) programs.
As a junior in 2006, Bland tallied 56 stops and led the Phoenix with four interceptions - returning one 33 yards for a touchdown against eventual national champion Appalachian State. He netted a pair of picks during his sophomore campaign in 2005 and added 45 tackles, which included a career-high 12 in a Southern Conference matchup against Chattanooga.
In all, Bland closed out his 42-game career with 173 stops, 13 resulting in lost yardage, seven interceptions, eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles for coaches Paul Hamilton (2004-05) and Pete Lembo (2006-07).
Bland was also a member of the Elon baseball program for two seasons and played a role for a Phoenix squad that captured the Southern Conference championship in 2006.
Bland, 25, earned a bachelor's degree in leisure and sport management from Elon in 2008.
In addition to his football coaching responsibilities at WBHS after graduation, Bland also spent time on the girl's basketball and baseball staffs while holding employment as a teacher's assistant in the classroom.