Athletic Hall of Fame
Todd Helton- 2010
Todd Helton has been the constant link between the Bulldogs past and present, spending his last 20 seasons on the SWOSU football coaching staff. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience and has put together some of the league’s top-rated defensive units for two-plus decades.
He has coached some of the school’s top defensive lineman, including All-Americans John Wichert, Robert Newberg and Ruzell McCoy. While the all-stars may grab the biggest share of the headlines, how Helton continually develops and creates winning schemes with new players year after year is what sets him apart.
A native of Perryton, Texas, Helton was recruited to SWOSU by Coach Paul Sharp who was quickly impressed with his raw athletic skills and keen football intellect. Helton made an instant impact upon his arrival in 1986. He was a dominating defensive lineman and led the Bulldogs to back-to-back winning seasons as a junior and senior. He was named to the NAIA All-American team in 1989 and ended his career in with 197 tackles and 15 sacks; ranking among the school’s all time leaders for defensive lineman.
“Todd Helton is such an important part to the history of Bulldog football,” Sharp said. “You simply cannot overstate what he has meant to the program. His players love him, respect him, and they play hard for him down after down. Watching his development has been one of my biggest sources of pride when I think of my years at Southwestern.”
Helton joined Sharp’s staff as an assistant in 1991. Winning seasons followed in 1991, 1992 and 1993. The Bulldogs made an appearance in the Aztec Bowl in 1991 and its 1992 team ranked among the best in school history. SWOSU won its first seven games and finished the regular season ranked No. 1 ranked in the NAIA. An amazing five players from the 1992 team were honored as All-Americans, at the time a record among NAIA schools.
Still ahead for Helton and SWOSU was a 1996 team that captured the spirit and hearts of Bulldog fans across the region. Star receiver Alvin Milton, along with three members of the SWOSU basketball team, were killed in a tragic accident when their car skidded off a rain slick road in October. The entire campus embraced the Bulldogs and together with the help of coaches like Helton began an inspiring journey that culminated in the 1996 NAIA football title.
Helton has the unique distinction of having served on the staffs of three different head football coaches for the Bulldogs. He started under Sharp and continued under Ryan Held before new working with current coach Dan Cocannouer.
“Considering how the coaching profession is now days, I guess you could say I’ve been kind of lucky,” Helton said. “I was just fortunate to stay at SWSOU with some guys who had confidence in keeping me aboard even when they may have not known much about me.” Helton is the father to young daughters, Kennedie and Ireland Helton.