Tre Lamb knows what it takes to win a championship at Tennessee Tech.
After all, just over six years ago, he did it – the last Golden Eagle quarterback to lead a Tech squad to an Ohio Valley Conference championship and its only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearance.
Now, after four seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Mercer, under the guidance of his uncle and Bears head coach Bobby Lamb, the younger Lamb is returning home to Cookeville, taking over as Tech’s offensive coordinator.
“It’s awesome,” Lamb, 28, said. “This is home for me. As soon as the opportunity came, I jumped on it. This is where I want to be and has been for a long time. I’m really happy to be here. This is a great place to live. This is a great community and it’s been great to me and my wife (Carter). We hope to start a family here soon. The football program needs to be the front porch for this university and do a great job representing it.”
Head coach Dewayne Alexander wanted Lamb on his staff from the start.
“Even the previous time I applied for the job (in 2016), I wanted to bring Tre in as the offensive coordinator,” Alexander said. “I was very open about that, very adamant and he was only 26 at that time. You know, I’ve been coaching for 28, 29 years and I’ve seen a lot of coaches. Tre’s got it.”
Of course, Lamb’s family has been one of coaches. He played for his father at Calhoun (Ga.), then coached for his uncle at Mercer. From about the time he’s been able to walk, he’s been around the game.
“I’ve always wanted to be a coach,” Lamb said. “That’s what I feel like God put me on this earth to do – help young men and change them. That’s what I want to do here. I’ve been at a few schools now and this place is special. I do what I do because I love it and I’d do it for zero dollars.”
Alexander said, “He’s only 28 years old, but if you look at his background, he’s been around football since he was old enough to know that it was football. His dad, Hal, is a coach. His granddad is an unbelievable coach. His uncle, Bobby, is the head coach at Mercer. I’ve been good friends with them and Hal used to bring Calhoun’s football team to camp at Cumberland when I coached there. He comes from a great lineage of coaches and an excellent football state.”
Tech’s starting quarterback from 2010 to 2012 for head coach Watson Brown, Lamb shattered the Golden Eagle record book, including the fifth-best season in passing yardage in program history with 2,342 yards in 2011. He ranks third in career passing yardage with 5,301 yards.
He also holds five single-game individual records – most pass attempts (58 vs. Tennessee State in 2011), most completions (38 vs. Southeast Missouri in 2012), most passing yards (481 vs. Southeast Missouri in 2012), most plays (69 vs. Tennessee State in 2011), most yards gained (474 vs. Southeast Missouri in 2012). He has the single-season individual records for passing yards per game with 267.4 yards per game in 2012 and most touchdowns responsible for with 23 in 2011.
Lamb had the top season in total offense in 2011 with 2,555 yards, but the record was eclipsed by Michael Birdsong’s 2,803-yard campaign in 2016.
A team captain all three of his years as starter, Lamb was awarded the team’s Robert Hill Johnson Award in 2012 – Tech football’s highest honor.
“He’s got that ‘it’ factor that you’re looking for,” Alexander said. “That’s what made him one of the most successful quarterbacks in Tech history. He was a team captain and a leader in this football program. He’s probably, in the modern era of Tech football, one of the most recognizable and celebrated players that we’ve ever had.”
Following his graduation from Tech with a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies – education and exercise science, Lamb joined Brown’s staff as a quarterbacks coach in 2013. From there, he joined the Mercer staff in its second season after restarting its program, serving as the Bears’ passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“We worked together on staff here,” Alexander said, referring to the 2013 season. “I’ve known his dad and his family way before I knew Tre, so I’ve built an excellent relationship with him. We stayed in very close contact ever since he left for Mercer. This year, we actually competed against each other when he was at Mercer and I was at ETSU.”
Lamb has worked hard recruiting his home state of Georgia, but has also built solid connections in Middle Tennessee, many of which he used to bring talent to Mercer.
“There are many players from the mid-state area that are playing on Mercer’s football team,” Alexander said. “Those are areas we’re going to recruit awfully hard and he’s been able to pull players from Middle Tennessee all the way to Macon, Ga. He’s done a great job in this area and he’s well-known from a recruiting standpoint. He’s worked with the Chattanooga area, some private schools. Tre has a good name recognition, so that’s going to be a positive for us.”
Knowing what his Golden Eagle teams were able to accomplish as a player, now as the offensive coordinator, Lamb knows what he wants to achieve with a new generation of offensive talent at Tech.
“We want to be fun to watch,” Lamb said. “We want to score a lot of points, obviously. We want to have a quarterback-friendly system where we can develop a quarterback, get the ball in space to make them defend 53 yards. We want to be creative and not be afraid to try new things. We have to be good up front and have good angles and speed. We have to let our athletes make plays. You’ll see some up-tempo and changing tempos, but we have to develop a quarterback. We have to make it simple for our guys and let those guys have fun.”
But it all comes back to the fact that Lamb knows that Tennessee Tech can be successful. The Golden Eagles have won before under his tenure. Now he’s trying to ensure they can again.
"I feel like we have a good plan in place,” Lamb said. “We’ve got really good players – we have to find more of those and find speed. This university – you can recruit to this university. You can win here immediately. We want to show progress immediately. We don’t want to come in here and lose games and get a slow process going. We want to be competitive from day one. We’ve already been in here watching film as a staff and this team has got some players in place that can play football. Coach (Marcus) Satterfield and his staff did a great job recruiting and there’s some really talented guys here. We have to play to their strengths.
“Losing Dontez (Byrd to graduation) is a big blow to the receivers, and we’ve got to find some guys to step up there. The running backs here are incredible. They’re as good as you’re going to find on this level. Tight ends are good, O-line is solid. We’ve got to develop a quarterback and we’ll have a competition this spring and a competition in the fall. The best guy for the job is going to play. I got to see Dontez in person and on tape and I think his work ethic made him really good, which is good to see.”
The task at hand right now is getting the personnel in place to fill those shoes.
“Right now, we’re all in on recruiting,” Lamb said. “We’re going to be able to sign about six guys on offense, we think. We’re trying to fit the immediate needs we have. We’re looking for guys who are going to be able to come in and play – we’re not too interested in redshirting people right now. We want to play people early and develop guys as players and people, change the culture of this program and get things going.”