Mike Lackey, a former East Stroudsburg University graduate assistant who spent four seasons at the University of Missouri, completed his fourth season as the defensive coordinator for the Warriors’ football program in 2023. In four seasons, Lackey has overseen 13 All-PSAC selections and an AFCA All-America First Team Selection in Deshawn McCarthy.
ESU’s defense shined once again in 2023, which ranked fourth nationally in interceptions (19), 10th in defensive touchdowns (4) and ranked fifth in the PSAC in total defense and seventh in scoring defense. The Warriors returned to the NCAA Playoffs for the first time since 2009, with Dasean Dixon, Deshawn McCarthy and Jahmere Crumpton all earning All-PSAC East First Team honors, while Sergei Felizor was tabbed to the All-PSAC East Second Team. The stout Warrior defense allowed less than 100 yards total rushing in eight contests and less than 300 yards passing in 11 games. The Warrior defense allowed just one 100-yd rusher and one 300-yd passer during the 12-game campaign.
ESU’s balanced defense featured 11 Warriors who recorded at least one interception, eight players who recorded a forced fumble, nine players who recovered a fumble, and 12 players who contributed at least a half sack. Sergei Felizor became the first Warrior since 2008 to record 100-plus tackles in back-to-back seasons.
Under Lackey’s guidance, Deshawn McCarthy became a three-time All-PSAC East First Team defensive end and ranks third all-time in program history with 31 career sacks. McCarthy, a Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List selection, closed his collegiate career ranked third in NCAA Division II and 12th across all NCAA divisions among active career leaders in sacks.
The Warrior defensive unit did not miss a beat after the canceled 2020 season. Led by AFCA and D2Football.com All-America First Team selection Deshawn McCarthy, who ranked third nationally in sacks, ESU ranked in the top-50 nationally in redzone defense (17th, 67.6%), team sacks (22nd, 3.0) and scoring defense (43rd, 21.8 points allowed per game). Along with McCarthy, safety Tyler Watson and Andre Eldridge also earned All-PSAC recognition.
Lackey guided the Warriors to allow an average of 21.8 points, 140.8 rushing yards and 347.2 total yards in 2021, which are the best marks since the 2006 season for an ESU defensive unit.
Under Lackey, McCarthy’s 13.0 sacks in a single season were the most by a Warrior since 1992 and is tied with Bob Heumann (1989) as the third-most in season in ESU history. McCarthy became the first defensive end and eighth Warrior ever to earn AFCA All-America status, and is the first defensive player at ESU since Curtis Bunch in 1991 to earn the honor. McCarthy ranked third nationally in sacks and led the PSAC.
Lackey saw four of his defensive players garner All-PSAC honors during his first full season as the team’s defensive coordinator. Andre Eldridge and Jameer Brooks were named to the All-PSAC East First Team, while Joseph Odebode and Andre’ Gray were selected to the Second Team. Eldridge also earned a spot on the Football Gazette All-Region Third Team as a defensive lineman.
Prior to returning to the sidelines at ESU, Lackey was a defensive line graduate assistant at Missouri, helping the Tigers win eight games in the vaunted SEC while earning a trip to the 2018 Liberty Bowl.
Before heading to Missouri, Lackey was part of ESU’s coaching staff as a graduate assistant during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Lackey worked primarily with the defensive tackles during his first stint at ESU, helping coach a defense which ranked among the PSAC leaders in sacks during each of his two seasons with the program. Defensive tackle Bryan Thomson was recognized as the 2012 PSAC East Defensive Player of the Year at the conclusion of Lackey’s first season on the staff.
After graduating from ESU with a master’s degree in sport management, Lackey spent a year and a half with FCS member Towson University, working as a defensive quality control and assistant defensive line/linebackers coach. He was hired at Missouri in August, 2015 as a recruiting graduate assistant.
Lackey spent 2017 as Missouri’s assistant recruiting coordinator, with the Tigers winning their final six regular season games to become bowl eligible for the first time in three years. He assumed his most-recent position with the school in January, 2018.
As an undergrad, Lackey was a four-year starter at nose guard for Juniata College, a Division III institution located in Huntingdon, Pa. He graduated from Juniata in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication.
Lackey and his wife, Jessie, welcomed their first child, Jack, in February 2022.