Griz Head Football Bob Stitt Puts Together His New Coaching Staf - News, Sports and Weather

Griz Head Football Bob Stitt Puts Together His New Coaching Staff

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Coach Stitt finalizes Griz football staff

Montana head football coach Bob Stitt has added two new assistant coaches to his staff, and moved two current assistant coaches into new roles ahead of the 2016 season.

Moving into the role of Defensive Coordinator is former secondary and special teams coach Jason Semore, while former defensive ends coach Brian Hendricks will now oversee the defensive line as a whole.

Coming to Montana from the University of Louisiana-Monroe is coach Travis Niekamp (pronounced: NEE-kamp), a former Eastern Washington and Washington State assistant who will serve as the Grizzlies’ special teams coordinator and linebackers coach.

And making his return to Washington-Grizzly Stadium as part of Coach Stitt’s staff is former Griz great Shann Shillinger, who will coach the safeties. Shillinger was a two time all-Big Sky safety, who was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft. Shillinger comes back to Montana from Nebraska, where he served as an assistant under Huskers coach Mike Riley last season.

“I just couldn’t be more excited about this group of guys,” said Stitt.

“Number one, they’re great people, and number two, they’re very knowledgeable. They’ll help our players become better and be better prepared. I’m very confident that they will be great extensions of me in preaching the values that I believe will get us back to dominance on the Big Sky, and on the national level.”

Semore moves from coaching the special teams and secondary into the defensive coordinator role, the position he held under Coach Stitt at Colorado School of Mines. Semore will serve as a walk-around defensive coordinator, working with all position coaches on the defensive side of the ball.

Prior to coaching at at Mines, Semore served as a defensive assistant at Oklahoma State University where the Cowboys were ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation in five defensive categories, including 14th in scoring defense.

“We’re excited about having Jason run our defense. He’s one of the best defensive minds I’ve ever been around,” said Coach Stitt of his new DC.

“He hasn’t been in the business a ton of years, but his knowledge is way beyond his years. He had a huge influence on our defense this past year, especially in the second half of the season.”

Hendricks will now oversee the defensive line after former D-line coach Legi Suiaunoa accepted a position at Hawaii. Hendricks worked under Suiaunoa, and according to Coach Stitt, will bring much of the same techniques that helped shape All-American defensive talent such as Zack Wagenmann and Tyrone Holmes.

“Brian is a very energetic and knowledgeable coach, and I’m confident our defensive line wont skip a beat under his guidance,” added Stitt.

Joining Stitt’s staff is Niekamp, the former co-defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Niekamp will serve as the Grizzlies’ special teams coordinator and linebackers coach.

No stranger to the Northwest, Coach Niekamp served as linebackers coach at Washington State from 2007-2011 in addition to serving as the Cougars’ director of football development. Prior to his time in Pullman, he was the linebackers coach/special teams coordinator at Eastern Washington from 2004-2007.

Before coaching at Eastern Washington, Niekamp served as tight ends coach at the United State Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., from 1999 - 2003, and outside linebacker coach, safeties coach and defensive tackles coach at his alma mater, Illinois State University in 1998 and 1999.

“Coach Niekamp came highly recommended by some very good friends of mine, and he also is a big-time special teams coach,” said Coach Stitt.

“He’s been a linebacker coach for a lot of years, has Big Sky experience and Pac-12 experience, but also recruiting experience in the state of Washington, which is huge.”

A native of Stevens Point, Wis., Niekamp and his wife, Tracy, have three children -- Tye Dalton, Dexter Kole and Brooke Ryan.

Finalizing Coach Stitt’s staff is Shillinger, who returns to Missoula to coach the safeties from the University of Nebraska, where the Baker, Mont., native served as a special teams assistant under former Montana assistant coach Bruce Read, son of legendary Grizzly coach Don Read.

“We’re excited, and I know that Montana fans are going to be excited to have Shann back,” said Coach Stitt.

“He’s a legend as far as Griz football goes. He’s one of the best people you’ll ever meet, and he’s got great experience as far as playing in the NFL as a safety, and getting to coach on Mike Riley’s staff this past year. I know our Montana players are going to be excited that a guy they grew up watching play for the Griz will be on the staff.”

Prior to coaching the Huskers, Shillinger coached at Dickenson State University in North Dakota where his brother, Jace, is the offensive coordinator. Shann assisted the Bluehawks as a wide receivers and special teams coach.

Shillinger was a safety in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans from 2010 - 2013. The Tony Barbour Award winner for the Griz was the 171st overall pick in the 2010 draft, signing with the Falcons in the sixth round. He ranked third on the Falcons in special teams tackles in 2010 and second in 2011.

He and his wife, Ericka, have a daughter, Lenex (1) and welcomed their second daughter Malloy earlier this month.

Coach Stitt’s new staff will be formally introduced in a press conference in the near future when the new members arrive in Missoula.

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