Offensive Coaching Staff
Associate Head Coach | Offensive Line
Rod Holder enters his first season as a member of the Robert Morris University football staff in 2017. He'll serve as the associate head coach and offensive line coach after spending the previous two seasons at Millersville University where he was the offensive line coach and running game coordinator.
“The thing Coach Holder brings to the table is experience and he’s also real hard-nosed,” said Clark. “At Miami, he played center and I played linebacker, so we were constantly battling and I know what kind of battler and competitor he is. He’s going to bring a fire to the position and he’s a real technician.”
Holder played collegiately at the University of Miami from 1986-89, where he was teammates with Clark. Holder earned over 20 starts on the offensive line and helped the Hurricanes to national championships in 1987 and 1989 under legendary coach Jimmy Johnson. In his four years as a letterwinner there, Holder helped the ‘Canes compile a 45-3 record and three bowl wins, two in the Orange Bowl and one in the Sugar Bowl. He graduated in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in business. Holder also earned a national title ring as an assistant at Miami in 2002, helping the Hurricanes to a Rose Bowl victory.
Holder joined the Millersville staff prior to the 2016 season. As the running game coordinator, Holder oversaw an offense that improved its running production by 50 percent in one season, jumping to nearly 120 yards per game in 2017. In that same time frame, the Marauders gave up half as many sacks in Holder’s second season of being in charge of the offensive line.
Prior to Millersville, Holder spent 10 seasons as an assistant at Norfolk State, finishing out his time there as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach. He transformed the NSU offensive line into one of the most productive units in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with four Spartans eclipsing 1,000 yards in season over his final eight years.
In 2011, his team allowed the fewest sacks and had the second-best offense in the MEAC. Tackles Blake Matthews and Kendall Noble were both first-team All-MEAC selections and Matthews earned NSU’s first-ever MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year award and was also a second-team FCS All-America selection in 2011. Matthews was a third-team All-MEAC pick in 2013, marking the 11th time that one of Holder’s protégés has been named to the all-conference team.
During his tenure, DeAngelo Branche became the all-time leading rusher at Norfolk State and led the conference in rushing in 2010. The Spartans averaged 174.6 yards to lead the league in 2010. In 2009, three linemen were named to the All-MEAC team. Holder has also spent time on the coaching staffs at Rutgers, Western Illinois, Miami, Northeastern and Bentley.
Robert Morris University head football coach John Banaszak announced the hiring of Nick McVay as an assistant coach in March 2014.
McVay will work with receivers for the second consecutive season in 2016. He worked with H-backs and tight ends in 2014, where he helped true freshman Ben Line take on a sizeable role in the position as a rookie.
McVay helped rookie Kyle Buss to a record-breaking 2015 season as the latter thrived with the former’s guidance. Buss was tabbed as the Northeast Conference Offensive Rookie of the Year and also became the first Colonial to be named a finalist for National Freshman of the Year. He surpassed six RMU freshman records as he caught 50 passes for 742 yards. With McVay’s support, Buss finished the regular season second nationally in receiving yards among freshmen and third in rookies in receptions per game.
During the 2013 season, McVay was an intern with the RMU program, assisting the defensive coaching staff in areas such as film breakdown and scouting reports. He also helped the program’s recruiting coordinator from an operational perspective.
McVay was a student assistant with Otterbein in 2012 and primarily worked with receivers. He helped the squad to an 8-2 overall record.
McVay was a three-year letterwinner in football while attending both Ohio Wesleyan and Otterbein. He led the Battling Bishops in punt return yardage during the 2009 campaign and served as both a receiver and a defensive back in his collegiate career.
McVay was also a two-year lettermen in lacrosse for Otterbein. He played in 20 career contests and helped the Cardinals reach their first NCAA Tournament in the program’s young history in 2013.
McVay attended Olentangy High School where he was an all-conference receiver.
A native of Lewis Center, Ohio, McVay earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in health and physical education from Otterbein in 2013.
Gabe Luvara was named the offensive coordinator by Robert Morris University head coach Bernard Clark in January of 2018. Luvara spent four seasons at the University at Albany, the last three as the quarterbacks coach and associate offensive coordinator.
“For the last four years, I’ve watched him be very thorough with everything he did at UAlbany with the quarterbacks,” said Clark. “He was very structured and very detailed with everything he did with the offense as the passing game coordinator there. He did a great job, not only working with the head coach but working with the offensive coordinator, and getting everything right and the patterns right. When I got the job, he was one of the guys I really wanted here.”
“More than anything else, Gabe picks defenses apart. He does a great job watching film. He’ll make it simple for our guys while also making it complex for our opponents.”
As the assistant offensive coordinator, he assisted the Great Danes in averaging 24.9 points per contest in 2016 to rank fourth in the CAA, including 36 points in a comeback victory at New Hampshire, en route to a 7-4 overall record.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the program here at RMU,” said Luvara. “Obviously knowing Coach Clark the last four years, I have developed a deep respect for him as a coach and leader. I know his vision for the program will produce not only football teams that will represent RMU at a championship level, but also help develop young me that will make the entire community proud. To be a small part of that process, as well as being included into the great tradition of this program and University, is very humbling. I can’t wait to get to work in both meeting and developing relationships with our current student-athletes as well as help recruit the next class of Colonials.”
Instrumental in developing the Great Danes’ passing game in 2014, Luvara worked with tight end Brian Parker who earned third-team All-CAA honors, as well as signed an undrafted free agent deal with San Diego Chargers.
Luvara came to Albany after four seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Frostburg State University football program. Under his direction, the Bobcats made huge strides on the offensive side of the ball, improving over 130 yards per game from his first season to his second, averaging 376 yards per game and 32 minutes of possession per game. In addition, the 2011 Bobcats threw for 2,234 yards, the fourth most yards in a season in school history, tossed 15 touchdowns, fifth best in school history, and ran for 1,528 yards, the most since 2002.
Prior to Frostburg State, Luvara spent three season as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Ithaca College. While with the Bombers, Luvara helped the team to two NCAA Playoff appearances and a 24-8 overall record. His offenses ranked in the top-30 in the nation in total offense (26th in 2007 and 25th in 2008), scoring offense, 20th in 2008), pass efficiency (29th in 2008), turnover margin (29th in 2009) and fewest turnovers (8th in 2007).
In 2008, Luvara’s offensive line was selected by the Empire 8 as the conference’s player of the week, marking the first time in the league’s history that a weekly award was given to a unit and not an individual player. A total of 18 offensive players were named to the Empire 8 all-conference teams under Coach Luvara’s leadership.
Luvara was an assistant at Juniata from 2005-07 after spending two seasons as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Duquesne in 2003 and 2004. On the Bluff, he helped the Dukes to the 2004 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title and a 2003 Division I-AA Mid-Major National Championship.
As a graduate assistant at the University of Louisville from 2002-03, Luvara handled scouting reports, running scout teams and assisting the offensive staff. During his time there, the Cardinals posted 16 wins and a made two GMAC Bowl appearances.
Luvara is a 2001 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he was a four-year letterwinner an All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) center. He helped lead the Indians to three NCAA Playoff appearances from 1999-2001. He earned his masters of science in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania in 2008.
Former National Football League (NFL) player LaRod Stephens-Howling enters his first season on the Robert Morris University football coaching staff head coach John Banaszak announced Thursday. Stephens-Howling will coach the RMU running backs.
“Having LaRod fill the running backs coaching position, I think we have added a vital piece to our coaching staff in a guy that has an awful lot of experience at all levels,” said Banaszak. “His experience in the NFL for five seasons is a definite plus for us and gives our running backs a chance to understand what it takes to be the best they can be.”
It is a return, of sorts, for Stephens-Howling to the RMU campus. In 2016, the Johnstown, Pa., native, spent five months on the Colonials staff as a volunteer running backs coach. He provided assistance to the offensive coordinator and running backs coach in the spring and summer while preparing the squad for its spring game.
Most recently, Stephens-Howling was a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh where helped in recruiting and operations. In his role there, he helped in both scouting and recruiting, evaluating talent and setting up various recruiting events.
Stephens-Howling was drafted in the seventh round, 240th overall, by the Arizona Cardinals in 2009 as a running back and kick returner and would earn NFL All-Rookie Team accolades that season. He spent four years with the Cardinals where he played under the watchful eye of current RMU offensive coordinator Mike Miller, who was member of the Arizona coaching staff from 2007-2012
In four seasons with Arizona, Stephens-Howling made 10 starts and played in 51 games as both a runner and kick returner. He carried for 670 yards and five touchdowns averaging 3.6 yards per carry. The dual threat caught 58 passes for 545 yards and three scores, including the first of his career – a 14-yard effort from Kurt Warner. His versatility in 2009 earned him NFL All-Rookie Team accolades.
As a specialist, he averaged 25.0 yards per return for his career and scored three times. He had a career long 102-yard return against the Oakland Raiders in 2010. Stephens-Howling finished with 164 returns and 4,092 yards. He led the NFL in kick-off return yard with 1,548 in 2010. He fumbled just one time in 410 career touches before finishing his career with his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers, signing a one-year contract with the team in 2013.
Stephens-Howling played his collegiate football at the University of Pittsburgh, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice in 2010. He was a decorated athlete for the Panthers, earning the Pitt Iron Man Award and Demale Stanley Award in 2008 and the David Sandberg Champion Award and the Division I Sportsmanship Award in 2009.
He led Pitt in rushing as both a freshman and a sophomore, carrying for 434 yards as a freshman and 893 as a sophomore. That sophomore campaign featured a 221-yard performance that earned him Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors. He finished his career just shy of 2,000 yards, toting the rock 429 times for 1,959 yards and 15 scores. Stephens-Howling also hauled in 52 receptions for 454 yards and returned 34 kickoffs for an average of 22.8 yards.