On Dec. 14, 2014, MSU Director of Athletics Kyle Moats and President Clif M. Smart III announced the hire of former University of Missouri associate head coach and defensive coordinator Dave Steckel as Missouri State’s 20th head football coach.
In his first three years leading the MSU program, Steckel and his talented staff set about the task of overhauling a young Bears squad, heavily emphasizing the fundamental aspects of the game. Capitalizing on a renewed enthusiasm surrounding the MSU program, Steckel laid the groundwork for enhancing relations with area high school coaches, engaging the community and raising the bar with his “Bear Up” mentality. The efforts paid off at the gate, as the Bears drew an average of 10,067 fans per game over the 2015-16 seasons.
Last year, the Bears registered dramatic signs of improvement, particularly on the offensive side of the football. MSU’s ground attack, led by dual-threat quarterback Peyton Huslig, led the Missouri Valley Football Conference in rushing during league play throughout most of the Valley season. The Bears ultimately finished sixth overall in the MVFC in rushing yards per game (169.4 ypg.), posting a 32-percent increase in total rushing yards per outing from 2016.
Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
Marcus Yokeley begins his fourth year as the Bears’ defensive coordinator–and first working with the Missouri State linebackers–after helping lay the foundation for future success by mentoring a young MSU defense in his first three seasons in Springfield.
Under Yokeley’s guidance, the Bears continued to make strides on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage in 2017. MSU’s pass defense ranked sixth in the MVFC during league play, yielding an average of 228.9 yards per game. Individually, Angelo Garbutt and defensive lineman Colby Isbell earned second-team all-conference laurels, while defensive back Darius Joseph was an honorable mention All-MVFC choice.
A deep 2016 Missouri State defense logged statistical improvements across the board to help the Bears post a three-win improvement. MSU’s run defense improved by an average of 118 yards per outing in 2016, while the Bears’ gave up 105 fewer yards per game overall as a unit. Consensus first-team All-American Dylan Cole thrived in Yokeley’s system, leading the nation in total tackles (12.9) en route to being named a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award.
Assistant Coach (Running Backs)
Trent Figg was announced as new MSU running backs coach on April 2, 2018. He comes to Missouri State after a year as defensive coordinator at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.
Figg spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons in the same role for his alma mater, William Jewell College of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. In addition to his work as the defensive coordinator at William Jewell, Figg served as the DC for the USA Team at the 2016 World University Championship held in Monterrey, Mexico.
Prior to his two-year stint at William Jewell, Figg served as the defensive backs coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator for Southern Arkansas in 2014. That season, Figg engineered a secondary that allowed the lowest opponent completion percentage (.495) and the second-lowest third-down conversion percentage (.338) in the Great American Conference.
Assistant Coach (Safeties)
Kenji Jackson will once again oversee the development of the Missouri State safeties in his fourth season with the Bears.
Jackson has helped shape a youthful MSU secondary into one of the program’s most productive and improved units over the last three years. Last fall, the Bears defensive backfield ranked sixth in the Valley in passing defense during conference play.
In 2016, four different safeties ranked among the Bears’ top nine tacklers, led by the trio of Jared Beshore, Cameron Price and Kam Carter, who each made at least five starts. As a unit the MSU defense posted a significant improvement in pass defense efficiency, rising from 10th in the MVFC to seventh with a season rating of 139.3.
Assistant Coach (Offensive Coordinator / OL)
Justin Kramer begins his fourth year on the Missouri State coaching staff working with the Bears tight ends and special teams.
Under Kramer’s direction, MSU’s special teams have been some of the most consistent units in the Missouri Valley Football Conference since his arrival on campus. In particular, the Bears ranked among the Valley’s top three units in kickoff return average (22.2), punt return average (13.0), punt average (41.0) and field goals made per game (1.09) last season.
Individually, Kramer has helped mentor three different All-MVFC performers during his tenure in Springfield. Tight end Erik Furmanek enjoyed a breakout year in 2016, hauling in 27 pass receptions and four of the six touchdowns caught by MSU tight ends to earn second-team All-MVFC honors. Additionally, Holliman was one of the most dangerous return specialists in the nation over the last three seasons, garnering first-team all-Valley laurels each year.
Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
Chris Morton will resume his work with the Missouri State defensive lineman in his fourth season with the Bears.
In his first three years at MSU, Morton has tutored one of the Bears’ deepest position groups, providing a key element in a defensive renaissance for the Maroon and White. In 2016, the D-line unit combined to record 156 tackles, 32.0 stops for losses and 15.0 of the Bears’ 17.0 sacks on the year.
Two MSU defensive linemen have garnered All-MVFC honors under Morton’s direction, including two-time honoree Colby Isbell. In 2016, Isbell earned the first of his two-straight second-team all-Valley honors after finishing with 33 stops,12.0 TFLs and 6.5 sacks, ranking sixth in the MVFC in each of the last two categories. James Barnes claimed honorable mention all-conference recognition in 2015, recording 33 tackles and ranking ninth among all Valley defenders in sacks during league play.
Assistant Coach (Cornerbacks)
Munir Prince (muh-NEAR) returns for his fourth season overall on the Bears coaching staff and his first working with the MSU cornerbacks.
Prince helped develop a balanced and versatile stable of running backs that combined for over 4,000 yards of total offense the last three seasons. Most notably, Jason Randall and Calan Crowder teamed up to run for 2,255 yards and 19 touchdowns since the start of the 2015 season. Last fall, the Bears ranked third among all MVFC teams in team rushing per game (185.1 ypg.) during league play.
In his first campaign with the Bears, Prince oversaw a running back group that included three different regulars who totaled more than 300 ground yards for the 2015 season. Randall posted a pair of 77-yard games, while Crowder registered a Bears’ season-high 164-yard day against Chadron State.
Marty Spieler – Assistant Coach – Tight Ends Coach
Stephen Bravo-Brown – Assistant Coach – Wide Receiver Coach
Jake Morse – Assistant Coach – Quarterbacks Coach
Lanear Sampson – Assistant Coach – Wide Receivers
Jerone Williams – Assistant Coach – Defensive Tackles
Adam Lang – Strength & Conditioning Coach
Lynn Mentzer – Director of Football Operations
David Godsey – Quality Control – Operations
Max Hotelling – Quality Control – Offense
Trevor Bosak – Quality Control – Defense
Brad Jarman – Quality Control – Defense
Joshua Fletcher – Quality Control – Special Teams
Michael Consalvi – Strength Analyst