Paul Gonnella-’88

Memphis, TN– The University of Memphis and Head Football Coach, Larry Porter, have announced that Wakefield High School graduate, Paul Gonnella, has been selected as their new Director of Player Personnel.

Paul Gonnella-WHS Class of 1988

Gonnella is a 1988 graduate of Wakefield High where he was a two-sport standout in both football and basketball. Paul was inducted into the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

As a senior on the football team, Gonnella was a triple threat on offense from his quarterback position, on defense from his defensive back spot and specials teams as a punter and return specialist. Paul gained over 1300 all-purpose yards and passed for 501 yards, including seven touchdowns as a senior.  He also rushed for 486 yards and scored 10 times setting a Wakefield High School record on a 97 yard interception return for a touchdown breaking a 1936 mark.

All of Paul’s accomplishments on the football field earned him Middlesex League Most Valuable Player honors, as well as First Team All League and Boston Globe All Scholastic.  Gonnella participated in both the Harry Agganis and Shriner’s Football Classic.

A three-year starter in basketball, he captained the 1987-88 team and was Co-MVP his senior year.  Paul enjoyed three state tournament appearances as well as being a member of the Division II North Championship team in 1987. Paul was a two-time league All-Star and a member of the All League team his senior year.

Upon graduating high school, Gonnella attended Springfield College where he was selected First Team All-New England Division II as a free safety as well as being a preseason All-American pick.

Since his playing days have been over, Gonnella has coached at numerous levels. In the 1997 and 1998 seasons he was the Somerville High School Assistant Coach for running backs and defensive backs.   In 2001 and 2002 he was at Lovejoy High School in Georgia as Assistant Coach for defensive backs.

Coach Gonnella during his tenure at Cambridge Ridge & Latin

After the 2002 season, Gonnella jumped into the college coaching ranks. In 2003 and 2004 Gonnella was at Mississippi State University where he was a defensive Graduate Assistant and worked for head coaches Jackie Sherrill and Sylvester Croom.

The 2005 season saw Gonnella move back to New England where he became the Head Football Coach at Cambridge Rindge & Latin. Paul was 14-8 during the last two years of his tenure at Cambridge.  His three year total was 18 wins against 15 losses. Gonnella is credited with turning a struggling program around and coached numerous future college football players while there from 2005 through 2007 seasons.

Since leaving Cambridge, Paul Gonnella has made Wakefield proud.  He has been involved with three major college football teams.  2009 saw Gonnella as the Director of Player Personnel for the University of North Carolina under Head Coach Butch Davis.  Gonnella was able to help put together a Top 10 recruiting class for the Tarheels.

After departing Chapel Hill, Gonnella became the Director of Player Personnel for the University of Tennessee under Lane Kiffin. Again, Paul was instrumental in orchestrating another Top 10 recruiting class for the Volunteers.

After Kiffin’s abrupt departure from Knoxville for Southern California, Gonnella became the In House Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Miami under Head Coach Randy Shannon.  Gonnella and the entire Hurricane staff were instrumental in “Bringing the Swagger Back to the U.”

Gonnella during pre-game warmups vs. Wake Forest as a member of the Miami Hurricanes staff

Although the path has taken Gonnella from Wakefield to points all over the Eastern United States, he is extremely happy to land on his feet in Memphis. When asked about his new position Gonnella responded, “I am extremely excited about the potential with this program. Larry Porter (Head Coach), is extremely energetic and wants to build on the success of the basketball program.  I look forward to hitting the road and doing what I love to do and that is recruit young student-athletes.”

No doubt the Memphis Tigers are lucky to have the former Warrior on their staff.