Sean Saturnio | Army West Point

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Team: Army West Point
Organization: NCAA Football
Position: Special Teams Coordinator
Hometown: Hilo, Hawai’i


Sean Saturnio enters his 10th season in 2023 as a member of the Army Black Knights coaching staff and returns for his sixth season as the special teams coordinator.
One of Saturnio’s staples since taking over Army’s special teams again in 2020 has been in his unit's ability to block punts. Army has blocked three punts in each of the last three seasons (2020-22) as nine blocked punts are tied for the most in the FBS with Notre Dame in that span.
Saturnio’s special teams units continued to perform at a high level in 2022. Army blocked three punts which were tied for seventh in the country, two of which resulted in touchdowns. Army’s two blocked punts that both resulted in touchdowns made them one of seven teams to do so, joining Bowling Green, Middle Tennessee, San Diego State, South Carolina, UAB and UCF. The first block for a score came vs. UConn on Nov. 19 when Freshman DB Jabril Williams blocked a punt on the game's opening drive which was recovered in the endzone for a touchdown by RB Miles Stewart. At the time it marked Army’s first blocked punt returned for a TD since 11/11/2017 vs. Duke, when Javhari Boudreau blocked a punt and returned it 25 yards. The second block came on the biggest stage and was arguably the turning point of the biggest game of the season vs. Navy. Freshman DB Noah Short blocked Navy Punter Riley Riethman’s punt right before halftime with freshman DB Jabrill Williams chasing down the ball down in the end zone and recovering for a touchdown by the thinnest of margins, using every inch of the end zone to remain inbounds for the score. Blocked punts weren’t Army’s only method of special teams scoring, as RB Tyrell Robinson returned a punt 73-yards for a touchdown in Week 3 vs. Villanova, marking Army’s first punt or kickoff return for a touchdown since Jeremy Trimble did so in 2007 vs. Temple. Army’s three special teams touchdowns were second most in the FBS. Army finished as one of only three teams in the country that finished in each the Top-10 in punt blocks and the Top-20 in punt returns. The Black Knights also finished 13th in the country in kick return defense, only allowing returners to average 16.8 yards per return. It was Army’s second-highest finish in this category since 2000. The special teams units cumulatively ranked 17th  overall in the country in the Special Teams FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index Rankings), marking the highest-ever ranking for an Army special teams unit since Football Outsiders began tracking advanced statistics in 2007. Following the season, Saturnio was a finalist for the 2022 AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) Assistant Coach of the Year award. This award was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.
In 2021, Saturnio’s unit blocked three punts, which was tied for seventh-best in the country. Saturnio helped develop Punter Zach Harding, who established himself as one of the best punters in the nation. Prior to the 2021 season, he was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List twice and was selected to the Phil Steele Preseason All-Independent First Team before the 2021 season. For his career, he punted 4,400 yards with an average of 44.6 per punt in his 32-game career. He had 44 career punts land inside the 20 including a career-high five at Wisconsin.
He rejoined as the leader of the special teams unit after two seasons (2018-19) as Army’s tight ends coach. In his first season back with the special teams in 2020, Saturnio mentored one of the best units in the nation. Under Saturnio’s guidance, Army led the nation in both blocked kicks and blocked punts with seven and three, respectively.
Saturnio’s special teams unit was a key piece of the Army defensive effort, as opponents were continually pinned deep in their own territory by Second-Team All-Independent Punter Zach Harding and the exceptional Army punt coverage team. Long snapper Kyle O’Connor also earned a spot on an All-Independent team, landing on the first team for his efforts in the 2020 campaign.
Army’s special teamers also played a crucial role in helping Army capture the 2020 Commander-In-Chief Trophy with near-perfect performances against both Navy and Air Force.  Saturnio played an integral role in his two years coaching the tight ends, as the unit assisted the offensive line in having one of the best rushing attacks in the country each year. Since the start of the 2016 season, Army is averaging a nation’s best 327.8 yards per game on the ground. During the 2019 season, Army averaged 297.2 rushing yards per game (3rd nationally), while its 45 rushing scores were tied for second in the nation.
In 2018, Saturnio helped Army capture Commander in Chief’s Trophy titles for the second-straight year and earn a bowl victory for the third year in a row following a 70-14 win over Houston. The Black Knights also finished the year with nine consecutive victories, went undefeated at home for the second year in a row and finished the year ranked 19th in the nation. Saturnio tutored tight ends Quinten Parker and Zach Saum to become an integral part of the offensive line that helped Army rank second in the nation in rushing yards per game at 312.5 during the 2018 campaign. The group was instrumental in leading Army to the best third and fourth down conversion rate in college football. The Black Knights were also third in the nation with 47 rushing touchdowns.
In 2017, with help from Saturnio, the Black Knights brought home the Commander in Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 1996 and won 10 games for only the second time in academy history. As special teams coordinator, he mentored punter Nick Schrage into a weapon for field position in 2017 as he was named a nominee for the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter. Schrage improved his average by over seven yards per kick and had six boots over 50 yards after just one in 2016. That year the Black Knights’ Special Teams unit finished with their highest STE (Special Teams Efficiency) rating since 2010 according to the college and pro statistical analysis site Football Outsiders. The unit was tied for eighth nationally in block punts in 2016 and tied for ninth in 2017.
Football Outsiders also ranked the jump from the 2016 to the 2017 season as the greatest one season improvement in the last decade of Army football.  In 2016, Saturnio took over the special teams for the first time at West Point. He mentored Blake Wilson, Schrage and J.D. Mote in the kicking game in their first full season. Rookie Malik McGue averaged eight yards per punt return and had a season-long 58-yard return at Wake Forest.
Saturnio spent his first two seasons coaching the fullbacks. In 2015, he mentored Aaron Kemper into Army’s top rusher with 544 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Kemper had a pair of 100-yard rushing games, including 140 yards against Eastern Michigan.  Under Saturnio, Matt Giachinta gained 286 yards and scored a touchdown as a senior. He was named to the National Football Foundation Hampshire Society and was a finalist for the Pop Warner Award.
In his first season at Army, Saturnio helped mentor 1,000-yard rusher Larry Dixon who topped the 3,000-yard mark for his career. Dixon was named to three postseason all-star teams and competed in the East-West Shrine Game. Saturnio also coached Giachinta, Kemper and Richie Smith, all key parts of a rushing attack that was third in the country at 296.5 yards per game. He also oversaw the punters and helped Alex Tardieu average 39.3 yards on 44 punts. Tardieu pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line on 18 occasions and totaled six kicks of 50 yards or more.
Saturnio came to West Point following two seasons at Georgia Southern, where he coached the tight ends and assisted Brent Davis with the offensive line. In addition, he coached the punters and coordinated the punt return team. Saturnio also had responsibility as the Director of Player Development in 2011 before assuming coaching responsibilities.  In 2012, Saturnio helped wide receiver/tight end Tyler Sumner collect honors on Phil Steele’s 2012 All-Southern Conference squad.
A native of Hilo, Hawai’i, Saturnio spent 12 seasons as the head coach at Waipahu High School, culminating with a semifinal appearance in the Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) White Conference playoffs in 2011.  Saturnio was an assistant for two seasons before taking over as head coach at Waipahu where his team qualified for the playoffs in six of 10 seasons at the helm. He was named the OIA Division I Coach of the Year for the Western Division in 2008 and OIA Division II Coach of the Year in 2004.
Saturnio began his collegiate playing career at Division III Beloit College in Wisconsin before transferring to the University of Hawai’i. He was a walk-on for the Warriors and earned a spot on the team as a wide receiver. He earned his degree in elementary education in 1992.
Saturnio and his wife, Sharon, were married in 2014. They have four children, Caitlin, Christina, Zachary, and Isaiah, and two grandchildren, Maya and Ezekiel.

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