Paul Gonnella was hired on April 1, 2017 as the Executive to The Head Coach. In September Coach Gonnella added the title of Assistant Coach. Gonnella brings a wealth of experience in coaching and recruiting to the USM staff.
During the 2015 and the 2016 seasons, Gonnella went to the private sector to be a CEO of a recruiting company. In March of 2017 he resigned as CEO, which prompted the move to Southern Miss.
During the 2014 and 2015 classes, Gonnella helped guide the USF Bulls, under Willie Taggart, to two top-40 recruiting classes as the Director of Player Personnel, which has propelled USF to being a national contender. Taggart has since been named head coach at the University of Oregon. Both classes at USF were ranked in the top-five classes in school history. Thus far, the classes produced RB Marlon Mack, 4th round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts. Marlon made the jump to the NFL after three years.
In the 2012 season, Gonnella was the Director of Player Personnel at the University of Alabama under Nick Saban. The 2012 campaign saw the Tide not only win the national championship but also collect the No. 1 recruiting class in the country (2013) in all the major recruiting service rankings. The 2012 class produced NFL players, A'Shawn Robinson, Alvin Kamara, Reuben Foster, Eddie Jackson, Tim Williams, Derrick Henry, Jonathan Allen, and O.J Howard.
Gonnella was the director of Player Personnel for the class of 2012 at Purdue University under Danny Hope. In the class of 2012 Purdue ranked No. 33 in the nation. The second best ranking in school history. They also ranked fourth in the Big Ten, beating out Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State and others. That class produced NFL players, Jordan Roos, Anthony Brown, Cameron Posey and Jason King. The 26 signed recruits came from an impressive 17 states.
For the class of 2011, Gonnella was the Director of Player Personnel under Larry Porter. The team suffered through a 1-11 season but posted the No. 65 ranked recruiting class. That class produced NFL players Bobby McCain and Jordan Devey. The class also anchored the turnaround for Memphis and Justin Fuentes, as fifth-year seniors.
Making the jump to The University of Miami, under Randy Shannon, Gonnella assisted Miami with producing the 16th-ranked class in the nation. The class included NFL players Asante Cleveland, Brandon Linder, Chase Ford, Storm Johnson, Malcom Bunche, Clive Walford, Johnathan Feleciano, and Shane McDermott.
For the class of 2009, Gonnella had his fingerprint on two top-10 classes. When taking over at UNC as the Director of Player Personnel in March of 2008, UNC was ranked in the 50s. Nine months later, UNC held the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation. In January of 2009 Paul Gonnella was hired at the University of Tennessee as the Director of Player Personnel under Lane Kiffin. When it was all said and done, Tennessee jumped from No. 32 in the rankings to No. 9 in one month. Both classes produced multiple NFL football players including, Travis Bond, Brennan Williams, A.J Blue, Kevin Reddick, and Bryce Brown.
From 2005-2007, Gonnella was the head coach at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School in Cambridge, Mass. In the 2004-2005 season, he was a Graduate Assistant at Mississippi State under Jackie Sherrill and Sylvester Croom. Prior to Mississippi State, Gonnella was a high school coach at Lovejoy High School (GA) and Somerville High School (MA). Lovejoy produced a ton of college football players during his time there, including NFL football players Tashard Choice, Chris Scott and Mario Fannin.
Gonnella played football at Springfield College (MA) and earned degrees from Salem State College (MA) and Mississippi State University. He attended Wakefield High School (MA) where he earned all-state as a football player and was a 2 time All-League selection on the basketball court, earning him Wakefield High School Athletic Hall of Fame honors in 2002.
Gonnella is married to Amanda Gonnella, and they have a three-year-old child named Michael Peter Gonnella. Gonnella also has a son named Pau Angelo Gonnella who is 23-years-old.