Fleck Announces Hiring Of Nine Assistant Coaches, Four Football Staff Members

(Gophersports.com) -- University of Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck announced the hiring of nine assistant coaches and four staff members. The new staff hires will be official upon the conclusion of standard university procedures.

On offense, Fleck added Kirk Ciarrocca (offensive coordinator / quarterbacks), Kenni Burns (running backs), Brian Callahan (tight ends), Matt Simon (receivers) and Ed Warinner (offensive line) to his staff. Ciarrocca, Burns, Callahan and Simon were on Fleck’s staff at Western Michigan. Fleck and Warinner have not worked together.

On defense and special teams, Fleck added Robb Smith (defensive coordinator / linebackers), Maurice Linguist (defensive backs), Bryce Paup (defensive line) and Robert Wenger (special teams coordinator) to his staff. Wenger worked for Fleck at Western Michigan, while Smith coached with Fleck at Rutgers. Linguist and Paup have not previously worked with Fleck.

Fleck also appointed Gerrit Chernoff (general manager), Dan Nichol (head strength and conditioning coach), Marcus Hendrickson (director of player personnel) and Matt Childers (director of video) to the football staff. Chernoff, Nichol, Hendrickson and Childers come to Minnesota after working with Fleck at Western Michigan.

“I am proud to announce these additions to the Minnesota staff,” said Fleck. “I have worked with the majority of these elite men and am confident they will help take Gopher football to the next level. They are all passionate about the game, but are also committed to the process of developing young men academically, athletically and socially.”

Ciarrocca comes to Minnesota after serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Western Michigan since 2013. The Broncos thrived under Ciarrocca last season, as they averaged 41.57 points per game last season and set program records in points (582), total yards (6,737) and touchdowns (75). This came after setting records in the same categories in 2015.

Ciarrocca was the running backs coach at Delaware in 2012 and coached the quarterbacks at Richmond in 2011. He was also the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers from 2008-10 and was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Delaware from 2002-07. Ciarrocca has also spent time at Pennsylvania, Princeton, Western Connecticut, Delaware Valley College and Western Connecticut State.

Burns comes to Minnesota after spending one season coaching the running backs at Western Michigan. In 2016, Burns coached two running backs who each amassed more than 900 yards in Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan. Franklin rushed 248 times for 1,353 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Bogan gained 923 yards on 179 carries and scored eight times. Franklin ranked third in the MAC in rushing and 26th in the nation, while Bogan finished sixth in the conference in rushing. Franklin was named All-MAC Second Team and set a Bronco single-game record with 281 rushing yards against Akron.

Prior to his year at Western Michigan, Burns coached at Wyoming, North Dakota State and Southern Illinois and was a three-year letter winner at Indiana.

Callahan is a veteran coach and will lead the tight ends at Minnesota as well as coach the offensive tackles. He had coached the offensive line at Western Michigan since 2013. In 2016, his unit protected for an offense that averaged 41.57 points per game and rushed for 3,392 yards and 36 touchdowns. In addition, the Broncos passed for 3,533 yards and 33 touchdowns. Callahan’s line also yielded only 16 sacks in 14 games last season. FootballScoop named Callahan its 2016 Offensive Line Coach of the Year.

Prior to his time at Western Michigan, he coached the offensive line at his alma mater Eastern Illinois from 2010-12 and served as the line coach and run game coordinator (started in 2005) at Akron from 2004-09. Callahan has also coached at Texas-El Paso and Northern Michigan and was a graduate assistant at Pittsburgh, Oklahoma and Louisville.

Simon (wide receivers) coached receivers at Western Michigan since 2014 and led the unit to new heights. Last season, Western Michigan passed for 3,533 yards and 33 touchdowns. Leading the group was Simon-coached, NCAA Consensus All-American Corey Davis, who was the first Bronco to be bestowed with that honor. Davis caught 91 passes for 1,427 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and ended his career with 5,212 yards in four seasons, which gives him the Football Bowl Subdivision all-time career receiving record.

In 2015, Simon coached the most prolific receiver duo in the country since 2002. The tandem of Daniel Braverman and Davis were the first receiving duo since 2002 to catch more than 1,400 and 1,300 yards in the same year (Davis had 1,436 yards, while Braverman had 1,371).

Simon coached receivers at Rutgers in 2013 and worked in the player development department there in 2012. In 2011, he coached the tight ends and special teams at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

Warinner (offensive line) joins Fleck’s staff after serving as the offensive coordinator and tight ends coach at Ohio State in 2016. The Buckeye offense averaged 39.4 points per game last season under Warinner.

Warinner also coached the Buckeye offensive line from 2012-15 and has more than 20 years of experience coaching offensive lines and producing NFL talent at Notre Dame, Kansas, Illinois, Air Force and Army. Warinner has also coached at Michigan State (1985-86, linebackers and secondary) and Akron (1984, running backs).

Smith (defensive coordinator) worked previously with Fleck at Rutgers and spent the last three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas. At Arkansas, Smith’s defense ranked No. 10 in both scoring defense (19.2 points per game) and total defense (323.4 yards per game) in 2014. It was the first time since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992 that the Razorbacks had finished in the top 10 in either statistic. In 2015, his charges excelled against the run, as Arkansas held 12 of 13 opponents below their season rushing average. The Razorbacks allowed only 116.46 yards per game on the ground, which ranked second in the Southeastern Conference and 12th in the nation.

Smith coached the linebackers for the Tampa bay Buccaneers in 2013 and was the defensive coordinator at Rutgers in 2012. He was the special teams coordinator and a position coach at Rutgers from 2009-11. Smith coached at Maine from 2002-08 and was the defensive coordinator from 2006-08.

Linguist (defensive backs) coached the safeties at Mississippi State in 2016. With the Bulldogs, he coached a quartet of talented, play-making safeties in Brandon Bryant, Kivon Coman, Mark McLaurin and Jamal Peters. Those four players combined to make seven of Mississippi State’s 14 interceptions and Bryant, Coman and McLaurin finished in the top eight on the team in tackles.

Linguist was previously the defensive passing game coordinator at Iowa State and Buffalo and has also coached at James Madison, Valdosta State and Baylor.

Paup (defensive line) is a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year with the Buffalo Bills and has spent the last four seasons at his alma mater Northern Iowa coaching the defensive line. Paup’s line at Northern Iowa has excelled since he took the reins in 2013. UNI has finished each year ranked in the top-40 nationally in rushing defense, total defense and sacks. Last season, he coached defensive end Karter Schult, who received the FCS STATS Buck Buchanan Award. The award is presented to the absolute best defensive player in FCS football. Under Paup, Schult led all of Division I football in quarterback sacks during the regular season with 17.0. He set a new UNI record for tackles for loss in a season with 24.0, giving him the UNI career record with 56.0. Schult was also the 2016 MVFC Defensive Player of the Year, FCS ADA Defensive Player of the Year, Madness FCS Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American.

Paup was the head coach at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wis., prior to joining the staff at UNI. He was also a four-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and was First-Team All Pro in 1995 when he led the league with 17.5 sacks. In addition to playing for Buffalo (1995-97) he also played for the Green Bay Packers (1990-94), Jacksonville Jaguars (1998-1999) and Minnesota Vikings (2000). Paup is also a former member of the Green Bay Packers’ Board of Directors.

Wenger (special teams coordinator) was hired at Western Michigan in 2013 as a graduate assistant, but was quickly promoted to special teams coordinator. He coached Darius Phillips last season, who was named MAC Special Teams Player of the Year. Phillips returned a kickoff and punt for a touchdown last year, which is a feat he accomplished three straight seasons. Wenger used two punters last season in James Coleman and Derrick Mitchell, but the duo combined to average 40.68 yards on only 44 punts. His kicker Butch Hampton made 19-of-24 field goals, which included a season-long 47 yarder.

Prior to his time at Western Michigan, he was the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Allegheny College in 2010-11. Wenger also coached at the high school level at St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida from 2009-12. From 2008-09, he worked at Rutgers in player development and operations.

Chernoff (general manager) will oversee all off-field aspects of the program. He joined the Western Michigan staff in March 2016 as director of player personnel after spending five years in the same role at Iowa State.

Nichol (head strength and conditioning coach) previously held the same position at Western Michigan since 2013. Nichol has also served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Maine (2007-12), Dartmouth (2006-07) and Tennessee-Martin (2005).

Hendrickson (director of player personnel) joins the Gophers from Western Michigan and has also served as a college scout for the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns. He played linebacker at Luther College in Iowa.

Childers (director of video) was named video coordinator at Western Michigan at the conclusion of the 2013 season. He worked at his alma mater, Idaho, as the video services coordinator from 2011-13.