A new leader of the ETSU football program has been found and his name is George Quarles.
During a Thursday press conference held inside The Martin Center for the Arts, East Tennessee State Athletic Director Scott Carter introduced Quarles as the 19th head coach in Buccaneer football history.
“It is an honor and privilege to welcome George Quarles as the head coach of ETSU Football. Throughout his career in football, he has personified winning both on and off the field,” said Carter. “From his roots at Jefferson County High School to the Southern Conference, he has compiled daunting statistics in 39-years of playing and coaching the game; winning over 450 games, having 27 seasons with 10 or more wins, 34 seasons leading to the playoffs, and having 29 seasons where his team won at least one championship. Coach Quarles’ record of success is historic throughout the United States, and I am most excited about the person of character and father figure he will be as the head coach of ETSU football. We first met as rivals on a football field in 1995, and I have always admired his love of the game and competitive spirit. During many years as friends and competitors, I have wanted to work with him and am so excited that today we get to do just that.”
No stranger to the Southern Conference, Quarles displayed his excitement about donning the Buccaneer logo and leading the program.
“I would like to thank Dr. Brian Noland, the ETSU Board of Trustees, and Scott Carter for trusting me with this opportunity,” said Quarles. “I am humbled, honored and excited to be the head coach of East Tennessee State University Football. We are hoping to build onto the championship culture that has already been established. ETSU is an amazing place with amazing people. I can’t wait to get started.”
Quarles arrives in Johnson City having been on the staff at Furman for the last five seasons, serving as the Associate Head Coach. In addition to operating as the Associate Head Coach, Quarles has also held the Offensive Coordinator slot and the Quarterbacks coach each of the last four seasons. During his time with the Paladins, Quarles has overseen two FCS Playoff appearances in both 2017 and 2019, in addition to a share of the regular-season SoCon Championship in 2018.
In 2019, Quarles saw Furman lead the SoCon in scoring offense (33.5), while ranking second in total offense with 410.3 yards per game. The Paladins were also second in the conference in third down conversion percentage (39.3) and red zone offense (91.3). Furman’s high-powered offense scored over 40 points six times, including a 50-plus point game and two games with over 60 points. Overall, during Quarles’ stint in Greenville, the Paladins had 18 all-SoCon selections.
Quarles has strong history and ties to the state of Tennessee, having been inducted into both the Tennessee Football Coaches and Tennessee Secondary School Athletics Association Halls of Fames in 2018. In addition, Quarles has been inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.
Quarles, a 1989 Furman graduate and starting wide receiver on the Paladins’ 1988 NCAA FCS (I-AA) National Championship team, spent 22 seasons at Maryville High School in Maryville, Tenn., including the final 18 as head coach. During his stint with Maryville, Quarles accumulated an astonishing record of 250-16 (.939), making him one of the most successful prep coaches in the United States. The fastest coach in U.S. high school football history to register 200 wins, he guided Maryville to 11 state championships, including four consecutive championships in TSSAA Class 6A before his departure to Furman. Quarles added 15 state title game appearances, winning at least 10 games in each season at Maryville.
During his unprecedented run at Maryville, Quarles coached the Rebels to a nation’s-best 74 consecutive wins during one stretch that included four consecutive state championships. After taking over the Maryville program in 1999, he went 10-7 in his first 17 games, which he followed with a mark of 240-9 (.964). He was the winningest high school coach in America over the 10-year period (2007-16).
A seven-time state coach of the year selection, he was named Tennessee Titans Coach of the Year in 2005 and PrepXtra Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2013.
In 2010 he guided the East Team in the coveted Army All-American Bowl, an elite all-star game for the top senior football players in the country, after serving as offensive coordinator in the event in 2008.
Before taking over the role of head coaching duties in 1999 at Maryville, he served as an assistant on the Rebels’ staff for four seasons (1995-98), handling offensive coordinator duties and coaching the program’s quarterbacks and defensive backs.
He held those same duties over three seasons (1992-94) as an assistant coach at Greenville’s Eastside High School after beginning his full-time coaching career at Cedar Shoals (Ga.) High School in 1991.
Quarles served as a graduate assistant at Furman, following his playing days, for the 1989 and 1990 seasons, in which the Paladins claimed back-to-back SoCon titles. In that role he worked with the defensive backs and coordinated the scout team offense.
He earned two letters during his playing career at Furman. The Jefferson County, Tenn. native led Furman with 18 receptions for 295 yards as a senior in 1988, helping the Paladins finish 13-2, win the SoCon championship, and claim the NCAA FCS (I-AA) national title — made possible by his 42-yard touchdown reception in Furman’s 13-9, semifinal playoff victory over Marshall in Huntington, W.Va.
In 1985, his freshman year at Furman, the Paladins went 12-2, won the SoCon title, and went on to register a national runner-up finish.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Furman in 1989 and later secured a Master’s of Education degree in administration and supervision from Lincoln Memorial University.
He and his wife, Leslie, have two sons: Jack and Beau.