December 20, 2014

Shane Ray becomes Mizzou’s 13th consensus All-American. Picks up four of the five major All-American accolades (AUDIO)

Shane Ray is now the fifth Tiger defender to win the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Week award in the last three seasons.  He joins SS Kenronte Walker (2012 vs. Arizona State), LB Kentrell Brothers (2013 at Georgia), DE Michael Sam (2013 at Vanderbilt) and CB E.J. Gaines (2013 vs. Texas A&M) Athletics

Shane Ray 

Just hours after being named a First Team All-American by both the American Football Coaches Association and The Sporting News, Mizzou junior DE Shane Ray (Kansas City, Mo.) was named a First Team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) on Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 17). The FWAA honor gives Ray First Team All-America distinction from four of the major five All-America teams. He was a consensus pick earlier this morning and is Mizzou’s second consensus All-America pick in as many seasons after Michael Sam was a unanimous pick a year ago.

Ray is now the 13th Consensus All-American in program history and the fifth under the direction of head coach Gary Pinkel. The other Consensus First Team All-Americans are Martin Rucker (2007), Jeremy Maclin (2007, 08), Chase Coffman (2008), Michael Egnew (2010) and Sam (2013).

Continuing a trend of quality play along the defensive line at Mizzou (#DLineZOU), Ray is the latest star pupil under Mizzou defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski. Under Kuligowski’s tutelage, Ray reset the school’s single season sack record with 14.0 this season while also totaling 21.0 tackles for loss. Both of those figures are the third-most nationally and lead the SEC. He is second in the SEC in tackles for loss per game and sixth nationally in tackles for loss per game. Ray also finished fifth on the team in total tackles with 61.

Listen to Shane Ray, post practice comments

Steckel retains at least one coach from the Terry Allen era…finds his offensive and defensive coordinator


Mario Verduzco (UNI Athletics)

New Missouri State head football coach Dave Steckel announced the first members of his initial Bears coaching staff Wednesday with the hiring of offensive coordinator Mario Verduzco and defensive coordinator Marcus Yokeley, as well as assistant coaches Kenji Jackson (safeties) and Chris Morton (defensive line). Additionally, offensive line coach Sean Coughlin, who served nine years on the Bears coaching staff under former coach Terry Allen, will return for the 2015 season in the same capacity, Steckel confirmed.
All four new additions to the Missouri State staff began their respective duties Wednesday and are expected to be formally approved by the Missouri State Board of Governors at its next scheduled meeting on Jan. 21.

Verduzco, who will work with the Bears quarterbacks, comes to Missouri State after spending 14 years on the staff of Missouri Valley Football Conference power UNI, including the last seven as co-offensive coordinator. During his time in Cedar Falls, Verduzco helped the Panthers claim six Valley titles and make eight NCAA Division I FCS postseason appearances, while mentoring seven different UNI signal-callers who earned all-conference recognition on a total of 13 occasions. Five of those honorees were selected as league freshman or newcomer of the year, and Eric Sanders was a 2007 Walter Payton Award finalist and the MVFC’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Before joining the UNI staff, Verduzco served as quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Rutgers, where he worked with Steckel on head coach Terry Shea’s staff from 1996-2000. During his time with the Scarlet Knights, Verduzco developed what has been called one of the top quarterback clinics in the nation. Two of his pupils – Rutgers’ Mike McMahon and UNI’s Tom Petrie – have gone on to play professionally in the NFL. Previously, Verduzco coached high school football at Soquel (Calif.) High School for 10 years before breaking into the collegiate ranks at Gavilan College and San Jose State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in human performance in 1988 and a master’s degree in biomechanics and exercise physiology two years later. The Pittsburg, Calif., native then moved on to De Anza College, where he spent a total of five years –the final two as head coach – before heading east to Rutgers.

“I’m excited about working with Mario,” Steckel commented. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and a very sharp offensive mind, as well as over a decade of experience developing quarterbacks and guiding championship-caliber offenses in this league.”


Marcus Yokeley (Mizzou Athletics)

Yokeley joins the MSU staff after spending a total of six years over two separate stints at Lindenwood University, including the last three as the Lions defensive line coach. The Marshall, Mo., product led a unit that produced five All-MIAA defensive line honorees since his return to the program in 2012. Prior to that, Yokeley served as defensive coordinator at Avila in 2011, helping the Eagles lower their scoring defense by nearly 10 points per game. Working with the Eagles defensive backs, he tutored the school’s first All-American safety, Tyler Cardwell.

A former all-conference defensive back for Truman State, Yokeley was a two-time team captain for the Bulldogs before earning his undergraduate degree in psychology from the school in 2006. He worked on the Lindenwood staff from 2006 through the 2008 seasons, serving in a variety of capacities, including defensive secondary coach, special teams coordinator and assistant head coach while earning his master’s degree in education with an emphasis in strength and conditioning. In his first two years as a full-time assistant, the Lions went 21-4, captured the HAAC title in 2007 and advanced to the NAIA playoffs each season. Yokeley then joined Gary Pinkel’s Missouri staff as a graduate assistant, working on both sides of the ball and assisting with the coordination of the Tigers’ camps, film evaluation and scouting operations.

“Marcus is one of the brightest up-and-coming coaches out there,” Steckel added. “From our experience working together in Columbia, I know he’s familiar with our system and what we expect out of our players, and I’m looking forward to having him lead our defense.”

Kenji Jackson (Mizzou Athletics)

Kenji Jackson (Mizzou Athletics)

Another new Bear with ties to the Missouri program, Jackson will oversee the development of the MSU safeties after completing the 2014 season as a defensive graduate assistant at Northwestern. This past fall, four defenders earned All-Big Ten honors for the Wildcats, who finished 5-7. Over the previous two seasons, Jackson worked as a recruiting and quality control graduate assistant at Mizzou following the completion of his playing career in 2011. He assisted the MU coaching staff with its recruiting operations, video preparation and scouting analysis, helping MU post a program-record 12 wins and claim both the SEC East title and a Cotton Bowl victory en route to a No. 5 final AP ranking in 2013.

As a standout defensive back for the Tigers, Jackson was a two-year starter at safety and team captain as a senior, capping his career with an honorable mention All-Big 12 citation. A contributor on bowl teams in each of his four seasons, he earned Academic All-Big 12 recognition in 2009, as well as the team’s Inspirational Player of the Year honor in 2011. He completed his undergraduate degree in interpersonal communications in just three and a half years before earning a graduate degree from MU in educational and counseling psychology.

“Kenji is another sharp, young coach who knows our system inside and out,” Steckel said. “He’s a former All-Big 12 performer who brings a ton of enthusiasm, which I know will help him relate well with our players and be an effective recruiter.”

Morton will work with the MSU defensive lineman after spending the last two seasons on University of Wisconsin-Stout’s staff following a two-year graduate assistant stint at Missouri. Under Morton’s guidance, a pair of Blue Devils have garnered All-WIAC recognition in each of his two years in Menomonie, including 2014 All-West Region honoree Jamie Rohrig. Before joining the UW-Stout program, the Norfolk, Neb., native spent a total of four years in Columbia, where he worked as a compliance coordinator for two years before his initial coaching experience as a defensive graduate assistant under Steckel. In that role, he worked with the MU defensive line, linebackers and safeties, helping the Tigers go 8-5 in a 2011 season that culminated in an Independence Bowl victory over North Carolina.

Prior to beginning his coaching career, Morton starred at center for South Dakota, earning first-team AFCA All-America honors in 2007 after claiming the 2006 Rimington Award for Division II. He was honored with USD’s Dr. John Van Why Athletic Department outstanding male athlete award and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2007. Morton then worked as an auditor for the Missouri Attorney General’s office before heading to Mizzou, where he earned his master’s degree in health education and promotion.

“I worked with Chris during his time at Mizzou, so I know what an exceptional job he’s capable of doing,” said Steckel.  “His playing experience as a Division II Rimington Award winner and his track record of success in developing defensive linemen speak volumes about the kind of coach he can be here.”

Coughlin will return for his eighth year working with the MSU offensive linemen after helping develop one of the top units in the Valley over the past few seasons. The Kildeer, Ill., product joined Allen’s initial MSU staff from Iowa State, where he worked as a graduate assistant and offensive line assistant. He worked with the Bears’ tight ends and fullbacks his first two years and took over offensive line coaching duties in 2008. Over the last eight seasons, Coughlin’s group has earned MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors 12 times with 10 all-conference selections, three All-Americans and three players – David Arkin, Jake Duron and Randy Richards — signing NFL contracts.

The 2001 Drake University graduate was a standout offensive lineman during his own playing career, highlighted by three All-Pioneer Conference selections and back-to-back All-America honors in 1999 and 2000. Coughlin spent three seasons at his alma mater, working as an assistant offensive line and tight ends coach before joining Iowa State’s offensive staff in 2004 while pursuing his master’s degree in higher education.

“I am looking forward to having Sean stay on with our staff,” Steckel noted. “His attention to detail and work ethic, in addition to his history with this program and proven results in producing quality linemen, should make him a great addition to our staff.”

Steckel, who was named Missouri State’s 20th head football coach Dec. 14, will begin his duties in January, following Missouri’s Citrus Bowl appearance on New Year’s Day.

Pinkel on Missouri State’s hiring of Dave Steckel. “We’re so happy for Stec.”

Mizzou head football coach Gary Pinkel released a statement Sunday evening on the hiring of his defensive coordinator Dave Steckel to the Missouri State Bears.

“We’re so happy for Stec having the opportunity to run his own program.  He’s wanted to be a head coach for a long time now, and it’s exciting for all of us that he’s got his chance.  Stec is going to do a great job at Missouri State, and I’m just so appreciative for all of the great things he’s done to help us build our program at Mizzou.  We’ve worked together for close to 20 years and it’s going to be strange to not have him around.  We’re grateful that he’s able to stay with us through our bowl game, and it’s going to be important for us to send him out the right way.  Missouri State is getting a guy who is an outstanding coach, an even better family man, and someone who really cares about people.”

Missouri State names former Mizzou defensive coordinator Steckel as the school’s 20th head coach

Dave Steckel is announced at the new Missouri State football coach

Dave Steckel is announced at the new Missouri State football coach

Missouri State Athletic Director Kyle Moats announced that Dave Steckel is the Bears’ 20th head coach in program history at news conference Sunday evening on campus.

Steckel has a five year agreement with a base salary of $270,000.  He made $600,000 as defensive coordinator at Missouri.

Steckel career highlights:

–Steckel coached the defensive line for Gary Pinkel at Toledo from 1992-95. He was the defensive line coach during the 1995 undefeated season that went on to win the Las Vegas Bowl. Steckel helped coach a defensive unit that ranked No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference and 12th nationally.

–One of MU’s top recruiters, Steckel helped land numerous stars out of the state of Texas. He was responsible for the successful recruitment of Southlake Carroll High School quarterback Chase Daniel, who was named the EA Sports National High School Player of the Year.

–In his 13 seasons at Mizzou, Steckel has had at least one of his linebackers earn all-league recognition in all but one year, including two each in the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Coaching Experience
2011-Present Assoc. HC/Def. Coord./Linebackers, Missouri
2009-2010 Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, Missouri
2001-2008 Linebackers, Missouri
1996-2000 Linebackers, Rutgers
1994-1995 Defensive Line, Rutgers
1993-1994 Defensive Line, Toledo
1992-1993 Linebackers/ Special Teams, Lehigh
1986-1990 Asst. HC/ Off. Coord., Dickinson College
1984-1985 Graduate Assistant, Minnesota
1983-1984 Defensive Line, Ball State
1982-1983 Graduate Assistant, Miami (Ohio)

Missouri’s defense was one of the tops in the SEC from a team and individual standpoint.  Junior defensive end Shane Ray led the conference with 14 sacks…a school record.  Senior safety Braylon Webb was tied for third in the league with four interceptions and linebacker Kentrell Brothers was second in the SEC with 117 tackles.  The Tigers led the SEC with 42 sacks.

Ray, Murphy earn 1st-Team All-SEC Honors from coaches. Four captains earn 2nd-Team selections

Marcus Murphy (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

Marcus Murphy picked up first team SEC honors

Shane Ray was named 1st-Team All-SEC, matching the same honors he won yesterday from the Associated Press.  The junior set a school record with 14.0 quarterback sacks, and he also totaled 21.0 tackles for loss, while ranking fifth on the team with his 61 tackles on the year.  Ray leads the SEC and ranks 3rd nationally in sacks, while he ranks 2nd in the league, and 6th nationally in tackles for loss.

Joining Ray on the coaches’ first team is senior all-purpose man Marcus Murphy, who was honored twice as a first-teamer – on offense as an all-purpose back, and on special teams as a return specialist.  Murphy emerged as one of the nation’s most versatile players and dangerous return men, as he ranks second in the SEC in all-purpose average (131.9 yds.).  He is the only player in the nation to score TDs in 2014 via all four all-purpose categories: Rushing (4), Kickoff Returns (2), Punt Returns (1) and Receiving (1), and improved from 2nd-Team All-SEC acclaim in 2013.

Four Tiger standouts – representing all four team captains in 2014 – were named second-team All-SEC by league coaches, including senior DE Markus Golden, senior OL Mitch Morse, senior WR Bud Sasser and senior SS Braylon Webb.