KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Western Michigan football announced that Steve Morrison will become the program’s defensive coordinator as the team heads into the 2008 season. Morrison, who has coached the Bronco linebackers and defensive line during his first three seasons, replaces Bill Miller at the position. WMU’s staff also welcomes three new members to fill the vacancies at the wide receivers, safeties and running back/special teams coaching positions. These three men bring 62 years of collegiate coaching experience to the Western Michigan program.
Morrison, entering his fourth season under head coach Bill Cubit, will take over a defense that is, in a word, experienced. All 11 starters from last season return with nine of those returning for their senior seasons. The only non-seniors scheduled to start are at nose guard and strong-side linebacker. Morrison’s defensive backfield, all four are seniors, have a combined 25 interceptions among them over the past three seasons and his defense led the nation in picks in 2006 with 24.
His success with the Bronco linebackers is personified in current team members Dustin Duclo and Boston McCornell. Duclo, the team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, has raised his tackle totals each season since walking onto the program in 2004 and McCornell led WMU with 99 stops a year ago. Morrison also coached Second Team Associated Press All-America selection Ameer Ismail during his career. Ismail tied the NCAA record for sacks in a game with 6.0 against Ball State on Oct. 21, 2006 and went on to break the WMU and Mid-American Conference records for sacks in a season with 17.0.
WMU also welcomes three new coaches to Kalamazoo as the spring season gets under way this week. Mike Sabock (Baldwin-Wallace, 1977), who has spent his entire coaching career at Northern Illinois under legendary coach Joe Novak, brings 24 years of experience to the Broncos. He will coach Western Michigan’s running backs and special teams unit. On the field, Sabock has worked with some of NIU’s best. Northern Illinois has had a defensive end earn first team All MAC honors in four of the last five seasons. In 2006, sophomore Larry English added his name to that list that includes Travis Moore (2002 and 2004), and Vinson Reynolds (2003). In his work with the Northern Illinois special teams, Sabock saw NIU players collect four-straight MAC Special Teams Player of the Year awards from 2000-03, including all-time scoring leader, kicker Steve Azar in 2001 and 2003.
Sabock came to Northern Illinois from Penn State, where he served as a graduate assistant coach for the Nittany Lions and legendary coach Joe Paterno in 1983, when PSU finished 7-4-1 with a trip to the Aloha Bowl. A two-time All-Ohio Athletic Conference pick at Baldwin-Wallace College, Sabock started as a defensive back on the Yellow Jacket unit that ranked as high as No. 2 in NCAA Division III in 1976.
Rick Kravitz (Troy, 1977) is entering his 24th season in the coaching ranks after leading the Memphis Tigers defense to the New Orleans Bowl as its coordinator during the 2007 season. He will lead the Broncos’ corps of talented safeties in 2008. Prior to Memphis, he spent the 2006 season as the N.C. State safeties coach and special teams coordinator. In 2006, the Wolfpack ranked 13th nationally in pass defense and 36th overall in total defense. In addition, Kravitz helped direct junior kick returner Darrell Blackman, who ranked fourth in the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 28.89 yards per return.
Prior to joining Chuck Amato at N.C. State, Kravitz spent 10 years at the University of South Florida (USF) as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. The USF defense finished 17th in the nation in 2002, 2003 and 2005 and ranked seventh against the run in 2002, allowing just 87.18 yards per game. That same year, USF led the nation in turnover margin, forcing 36 miscues, (22 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries.) In 2005, USF ranked third nationally in fumbles recovered and sixth in pass defense. The Bulls’ defensive unit also ranked in the top15 in scoring defense, turnovers gained and sacks that same season.
Kravitz was tabbed as one of the "top-5 toughest college assistants to replace among those who accepted new positions" after the 2005 season by senior writer Bruce Feldman of ESPN The Magazine.
The final addition to the Western Michigan coaching staff is Mike Grant (Nebraska, 1993). Grant, who will lead WMU’s wide receivers, enters his 16th season as a collegiate coach after spending one season Southern Miss, nine with Iowa State, the 1997 season at James Madison and four seasons at his alma mater after completing his playing career as a quarterback for Tom Osborne.
He spent the last six years at ISU as the Cyclones’ wide receivers coach. Beside working with the receiving corps and recruiting responsibilities, he was the lead coach for the kickoff cover unit. Other areas he was involved in included serving as liaison with NFL scouts and the weight room program, including offseason and summer conditioning, handling freshman orientation and life skills program during fall camp, assisting with housing and training table and program correspondence. Grant’s wide receivers at ISU broke every receiving record in the school’s history. He had three players named first-team All-Big 12 in 2005, one of his receivers became the all-time leading receiver in the history of ISU and another became the all-time leader in touchdown receptions.
With Morrison taking over as the defensive coordinator, he will be relieved of his duties as recruiting coordinator. Beginning immediately, tight ends coach Jake Moreland will take over as the Broncos’ recruiting coordinator. The new coaches have already received their recruiting assignments. Grant and Kravits wil have South and West Florida, respectively, while Sabock will focus on the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. A.J. Ricker, who was recently promoted to offensive assistant coach will focus on the southside of Chicago.