Chris Merritt won five regional championships and 14 District championships as head coach of Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida. Now, Merritt brings that winning pedigree to Bryant University.
Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley and Director of Athletics Bill Smith announced Merritt as the fourth head coach of the Bryant football program during a Dec. 21 press conference on campus.
"I’m excited to be a part of an institution that is as academically strong as Bryant.”
“I want to develop a culture of success,” Merritt said. “We want to expect to win and we will expect to win. We will win on the football field and we will win in the classroom as well. I’m excited to be a part of an institution that is as academically strong as Bryant.”
Merritt has spent the past 18 years at Columbus High School, where he posted an overall record of 172-45 (.792) and led the Explorers to two state finals appearances (2014, 2018).
"We wanted someone to build a dynasty," Machtley said. “We want [Coach Merritt] to build a culture of success at Bryant like the one that he built at Christopher Columbus High School."
Finding someone with head coaching experience "was extremely important,” Smith said. “We wanted somebody who is a CEO of a program and someone who has experience coaching both the offensive and defensive sides of football. Coach Merritt checks all those boxes.”
Merritt received several recognitions for his accomplishments on the field while at Columbus. He was inducted into the Columbus High School Hall of Fame in 2018, named Nike Coach of the Year in 2005, Miami Herald Coach of the Year in 2014, and Warren Henry South Coach of the Year in 2017.
Merritt also worked heavily with USA Football, serving as the head coach of the Junior National Team in 2010 and as the defensive and offensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012, respectively. He also served as the defensive backs coach on the gold-medal-winning U.S. U-19 National Team at the IFAF World Championships in 2009.
In addition, Merritt was the head coach of the Hamburg Blue Devils in the German Football League. He guided the Blue Devils to a 48-9-1 record (.936), a pair of European Championships, a national championship, and three consecutive Charity Bowl Championships. Merritt is the franchises all-time leader in wins and winning percentage.
Bryant will be Merritt's third collegiate coaching stop. He was the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach at Thiel College prior to his time at Columbus and spent two years as an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois University in 1993-94.
Merritt was a four-year letter winner as a free safety and special teams captain at Indiana University from 1988-92. He began his career as a walk-on before earning a full scholarship and competing in three bowl games.