The NFL is welcoming nine first-year game officials for the 2015 season. The nine are graduates of the NFL Officiating Department’s Officiating Development Program, which trains top college football officials in all aspects of NFL officiating. They will start their NFL careers on the field at upcoming organized team activities.
“Our incoming officials have all demonstrated that they are among the best in college football,” said Dean Blandino, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating. “We are excited about having them join us.”
Meet the new officials:
Kevin Codey, Line Judge #16
Kevin Codey, a middle school physical education teacher from Pittsfield, Mass., started officiating high school football in 1992. His Division I career began in the Big East, where he worked from 2006 to 2011. He spent the last two years calling games in the American Athletic Conference. Postseason games he has worked include the 2011 Gator Bowl, the 2011 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the 2013 Outback Bowl, the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl, the 2014 Idaho Potato Bowl and the 2015 Senior Bowl. Codey graduated from Western New England College in Springfield, Mass., where he played basketball and baseball.
Walt Coleman IV, Side Judge #87
Walt Coleman IV, a financial advisor from Dallas and the son of referee Walt Coleman, started as a college flag football official. From there, he earned a spot as an official in the Big XII Conference from 2006 to 2014. His postseason experience includes the 2011 Champ Sports Bowl, the 2013 Capital One Bowl, the 2015 Outback Bowl and the 2015 Senior Bowl. Coleman is a graduate of Southern Methodist University.
Hugo Cruz, Head Linesman #94
Hugo Cruz, an investment manager from San Antonio, began his officiating career in 1995. He worked as an official in Conference USA from 2009 to 2014. Among the postseason games he has worked are the 2011 Sun Bowl, the 2012 East-West Shrine Game, the 2013 Conference USA Championship, the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl and the 2015 East-West Shrine Game. Cruz, a graduate of the University of Texas – Pan American, also has experience as a minor league baseball umpire.
Bart Longson, Head Linesman #2
Bart Longson, the co-founder and CEO of a digital finance company in Salt Lake City, started officiating at the age of 25. He officiated in the Mountain West Conference from 2005 to 2009, the Big XII Conference in 2010 and 2011 and the Pac-12 conference from 2011 to 2014. His postseason experience includes the 2011 Pac-12 championship, the 2011 Insight Bowl, the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl, the 2014 Capital One Bowl, the 2014 East-West Shrine Game, the 2014 Pac-12 championship, the 2014 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, the 2015 Sugar Bowl (national semifinal) and the 2015 NFLPA Game. Longson is a graduate of Brigham Young University.
Clay Martin, Umpire #19
Clay Martin, a high school basketball coach in Jenks, Okla., began his football officiating career at the high school level in 2005 and began calling college games in Conference USA in 2007. His postseason experience includes the 2011 Conference USA championship, the 2011 Outback Bowl, the 2012 Holiday Bowl, the 2013 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the 2014 Conference USA championship and the 2015 East-West Shrine Game. Martin initially attended the University of Tulsa on football and basketball scholarships and transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University to concentrate on basketball, helping his team reach the NAIA championship game in 1997.
Aaron Santi, Side Judge #50
Aaron Santi, a middle school principal from Medford, Ore., followed his father — a Division I-AA official — into officiating football and has called games in the Pac-12 Conference since 2003. His postseason experience includes the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl, the 2006 Sugar Bowl, the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl, the 2009 Cotton Bowl, the 2010 Sugar Bowl, the 2010 Hawaii Bowl, the 2011 Liberty Bowl, the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game, the 2014 Gator Bowl, the 2015 Gator Bowl and the 2015 Medal of Honor Bowl. Santi is a graduate of Southern Oregon University.
Shawn Smith, Field Judge #14
Shawn Smith, an internal auditor from Southfield, Mich., got started as a flag football official at Eastern Michigan University. He went on to officiate in Conference USA in 2009, the Mid-American Conference from 2009 to 2012 and the Big Ten Conference from 2012 to 2014. His postseason experience includes the 2011 Armed Forces Bowl and the 2015 Senior Bowl. Smith was recruited to run track and play football at EMU before transferring to Ferris State University.
Sarah Thomas, Line Judge #53
Sarah Thomas, a pharmaceutical sales representative from Brandon, Miss. began officiating high school football in 1996. She moved up to Conference USA in 2008 and has worked three postseason games: the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl, the 2014 Conference USA championship and the 2015 Medal of Honor Bowl. Thomas played basketball at University of Mobile.
Jabir Walker, Side Judge #26
Jabir Walker, a math teacher from Louisville, Ky., is a former Canadian Football League and Arena Football League player. He officiated in Conference USA from 2009 to 2011 and the Southeastern Conference from 2010 to 2014. Postseason games he has worked include the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl, the 2012 East-West Shrine Game, the 2013 New Mexico Bowl, the 2014 SEC championship, the 2014 Senior Bowl and the 2015 Senior Bowl. Walker is a graduate of Murray State University.
The complete roster of NFL officials for the 2015 season, including crew assignments, will be announced in the coming weeks.