Actually, make that two familiar faces.
University of Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema announced that two of his current assistants, defensive line coach Charlie Partridge and defensive backs coach Chris Ash, have been named co-defensive coordinators. The two coaches have worked together at Drake and Iowa State, and now they’ll share coordinating responsibilities at UW.
“I’m excited to announce the completion of our coaching staff,” Bielema said. “I’m thrilled to be able to promote Chris and Charlie to co-defensive coordinators and keep the continuity of our defensive staff intact. They have both done terrific jobs during their time at Wisconsin and, with a number of key returning players on that side of the ball, I’m eager to watch them continue to develop good players.””
There is plenty of talent remaining for Partridge and Ash to maximize heading into the 2011 season. Aside from J.J. Watt, who has declared for the NFL draft, everyone on Patridge’s D-line returns next season.
Seniors-to-be Patrick Butrym and Louis Nzegwu will be counted on to lead a deep rotation, and there is plenty of talent remaining at the linebacker position. Mike Taylor returns, and while UW will need to find a replacement for Culmer St. Jean, the Badgers expect to have 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the year Chris Borland back in action after undergoing season-ending shoulder injury.
And after working extensively with the defensive backs, Ash has experienced starters coming back to the secondary. Aaron Henry is back at free safety, along with cornerback Antonio Fenelus. Those two defensive backs combined to record six interceptions last season, and they’ll have more profound leadership roles in 2011 with the graduation of Jay Valai and Niles Brinkley.
Huxtable joins staff
Doeren’s decision to leave Wisconsin to become the head coach at Northern Illinois opened the door for a new hire on Bielema’s staff.
The Badgers needed a new linebackers coach, and Bielema found his replacement in Dave Huxtable, a man with 29 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level who most recently served as the defensive coordinator at the University of Central Florida.
“I think Dave is a great addition to our staff,” Bielema said. “He brings a ton of experience, having coached the linebacker position virtually his entire career. His defenses at UCF were very well-coached, as evidenced by their success this season. As good a coach as he is, he is even a better person and he will fit into our staff very well.””
It is a bit unusual to see a coordinator accept more of a minor role with a team, especially with the Golden Knights coming off an 11-win season, but Huxtable says he wanted to be a part of the Wisconsin football family.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to coach at Wisconsin,” Huxtable said. “The University of Wisconsin is a top-notch program with great tradition. When I came up to visit I was so impressed with the people, the coaching staff and Coach Bielema. I’m very excited to get the opportunity to work for him. I’m looking forward to getting up to Madison and winning football games.””
Aside from Huxtable’s defensive expertise, the new UW assistant could prove to be a valuable addition on the recruiting trail. The Badgers have stepped up their recruiting efforts in the state of Florida in recent years, and Huxtable’s connections to the Sunshine State should only help that cause.
The Badgers’ success this season has plenty of high school prospects intrigued with Wisconsin, and Bielema saw similar interest develop as he conducted interviews with coaches across the country.
“Over the last month, I have witnessed how much respect our staff and program have nationally, both because of the interest other programs have in talking to our coaches and also the number of terrific coaches who expressed interest in joining our staff,” Bielema said. “It truly shows that this is a special place to work. I am appreciative to the members of our staff who have stayed because I know they have been presented excellent opportunities but chose to remain at Wisconsin.”