DeKALB – Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey has filled all of his assistant coaching positions, multiple sources confirmed to the Daily Chronicle on Thursday morning.
Carey has hired new running backs coach Lamar Conard, safeties coach Tyler Yelk and defensive line coach Walter Stewart. Multiple sources confirmed the news with the Daily Chronicle but spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“I think the program is in excellent hands with these great hires,” a source close to the situation said.
Carey did not immediately respond to interview requests. A school official could not confrim the hires.
The Daily Chronicle also learned Thursday defensive/special teams assistant Dan Sabock will officially take over as special teams coordinator. On Jan. 17, the Daily Chronicle reported linebackers coach Jeff Knowles was promoted to defensive coordinator by Carey.
The bevy of moves are the result of several offseason departures. NIU lost three members of its coaching staff last month in defensive coordinator/safeties coach Kevin Kane, defensive line coach Brett Diersen and running backs coach Jordan Lynch. Kane left the Huskies for Southern Methodist University, taking Diersen with him to join the staff of new SMU coach Sonny Dykes. Lynch departed at the end of December to become the head coach at his alma matter, Mount Carmel High School.
Conard, a native of Elkhart, Indiana, comes to NIU after spending nine seasons – seven as running backs coach – as an assistant at Illinois State under coach Brock Spack.
He resigned from the Redbirds in December and is the fourth ISU offensive assistant from the 2017 season no longer with the program. The Redbirds went 6-5 last season and missed the FCS playoffs for the first time in four years.
ISU had three 1,000-yard rushers under Conard in Marshaun Coprich, Darrelynn Dunn and Ashton Leggett. Coprich was a two-time All-American and is ISU’s all-time leader in rushing yards (5,195), attempts (926), touchdowns (59), all-purpose yards (5,800), points scored (362) and total touchdowns (60). He was a key piece during ISU’s run to the 2014 FCS National Championship, when the Redbirds lost a heartbreaker to North Dakota State, 29-27.
“Coach Conard is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Coprich said.
Yelk arrives to DeKalb after spending two seasons as South Dakota co-defensive coordinator with a focus on the Coyotes’ safeties under coach Bob Nielson.
Before joining Nielson at South Dakota, Yelk was an assistant under Nielson at Western Illinois from 2013 to 2015. During his third season, Western Illinois returned to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Leathernecks led the Missouri Valley Football Conference with 19 interceptions in 2015, which ranked seventh in the nation. During Yelk’s three seasons as Western Illinois’ secondary coach, the Leathernecks totaled 35 interceptions.
Stewart is the youngest of the three new hires. He previously was the defensive line coach at Eastern Kentucky for two seasons.
Stewart was a graduate assistant at Tennessee from 2013 to 2014 before spending one season at Florida A&M as defensive ends coach.