Early started his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, Gardner-Webb, in 1993. He left in 1995 to start a three-year stint at Western Carolina. From 1998-2001 he was the coach at Charlotte under Bobby Lutz. During that time Early established a reputation as a good recruiter.
“When he was at Charlotte and Alabama he was kind of known as the top recruiter on the staff,” Cloninger noted. “When he was head coach at ULM, he did the same thing. He got some kids that normally would have gone out of state or maybe go to a Texas school to stick around and play for little old ULM and ended up winning the conference one year.”