Jesse Burleson is in his sixth season as the head coach of the Hardin-Simmons football team.
The 2015 season was the best of his tenure as the Cowboys went 9-2, shared the American Southwest Conference title and went back to the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2008.
HSU also snapped a 13-game losing streak to conference rival Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Overall he has produced a record of 31-19 in his first five seasons at the helm of the Cowboys. The Cowboys have also set records for retention rates and number of players going through spring drills. He has also established a Gridiron Greats Endowment and has been a strong fundraiser for the program.
He has also worked hard to get the HSU football alumni involved in the program with the Cowboy Football Auction and golf tournament.
Burleson was named the 19th head coach of Cowboy football on Dec. 10, 2010, replacing the legendary Jimmie Keeling. Burleson served as the offensive line coach at Hardin-Simmons for five seasons. He had been the assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator since 2008.
At HSU, he has also been the director of football operations and was directly responsible for maintaining the budget, equipment ordering and travel planning. He also was in charge of recruiting for the Cowboy program.
Aside from his off the field administrative duties he has been a highly successful offensive line coach for the Cowboys. He has maintained his role as offensive line coach.
Last year Marshall Agan was named the ASC offensive lineman of the year and all five starters were named to the all-conference team.
He produced another all-American in Chuck North in 2013 and North was named the ASC Offensive Lineman of the Year. Ivan Shelnutt was also a first-team all-ASC selection and Wyatt Walton was named second team.
In 2012, HSU led the nation in passing offense and was second in the nation in total offense and fourth in scoring offense. His offensive line allowed only 12 sacks in 446 passing attempts on the year. Travis Sugar continued a long line of all-American offensive linemen under Burleson.
In 2011, HSU led the league once again in fewest sacks allowed. HSU also rushed for 190 yards per game. He has coached eight all-American offensive linemen or tight ends in his coaching career at HSU and Josh Knox won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center in 2006.
Three of his players have played in national all-star games. In his time at HSU as a player, student assistant or assistant coach HSU has a record of 126-59. HSU has won four conference titles, and gone to the national playoffs five times.
His 2010 unit fronted an offense that led the nation in total offense at over 515 yards per game. Koby Parker was named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press and D3football.com. Guard Cody Honeycutt, Parker and tight end Aaron Willman were all named first-team all-ASC selections and tackle Ross Hutchinson and center Travis Sugar both were honorable mention all-ASC selections.
In 2008, he put together an offensive line that featured a pair of All-Americans in Brian Fitzgerald and Ryan Hunter. James Arnold was an honorable mention All-American in 2007, continuing the Cowboys streak of having an All-American offensive lineman every year since 1999. He guided center Josh Knox to All-American honors and also the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center in 2006. Both Knox and Arnold were selected to compete in the Aztec Bowl, which is a Division III all-star game.
Burleson spent the 2005 season as the offensive coordinator for former Cowboy Darren Allman at Odessa Permian. Prior to that he was the offensive coordinator for two seasons at Temple High School. He spent two years as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at South Grand Prairie and one season at his hometown school, Clyde.
He was a student assistant at HSU in 1999 as he finished his degree. HSU won its second straight ASC title that year. Burleson, a native of Clyde, was a four-year letterman and three-time all-conference selection and team captain at HSU. He won three league titles for the Cowboys. He took over the starting center job midway through his freshman campaign and started the rest of his career.
In 2010, he was named as one of the five offensive linemen on the 20-year anniversary team at Hardin-Simmons He also excelled in the classroom. He was a four-time academic all-ASC selection and graduated Magna Cum Laude from HSU.
Burleson has been married to the former Lois Lee for 20 years. He has two daughters Marisa, a sophomore at HSU and Lainey. Lois is also a graduate of Hardin-Simmons.