2018 coaching staff features defensive overhaul for CSU football

Colin Barnard

After a turbulent month-and-a-half following Colorado State’s loss to Marshall in the New Mexico Bowl, Mike Bobo solidified his coaching staff for the 2018 football season last week.

Mike Bobo on the sidelines
Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo on the sidelines during the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 1, 2017 (Jack Stakebaum | Collegian).

The ups and downs included a brief agreement from now-Oakland Raiders coach Derrick Ansley and former coaches from the football-rich Southeastern Conference coming to Fort Collins. Now approaching National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 8, the Rams have a full 10-person group of assistants set to join Mike Bobo in 2018.


The group includes five coaches new to the program, four of which come on the defensive side of the ball. Headlining the list of new hires is defensive coordinator John Jancek, replacing Marty English, who retired after the 2017 season.

A former coaching mate of Bobo at the University of Georgia from 2005-09, Jancek’s experience in the SEC is lengthy. In his final season with the Bulldogs in 2009, Jancek served as the co-defensive coordinator opposite Bobo, the team’s offensive coordinator.

Following his stint with Bobo at Georgia, Jancek served as the co-defensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati in 2010-11 before assuming fulltime duties in 2012. In 2011 and 2012, Jancek led the Bearcats to a top 20 finish in the nation in scoring defense. The defense also led the nation in tackles for loss during the 2011 season.

Jancek’s next stop was at the University of Tennessee, where he served as the defensive coordinator from 2013-2015. During his tenure, the Vols improved into a top 20 scoring defense after years of mediocracy. Jancek most recently served as a consultant at the University of Kentucky in 2017.

“I’ve had the opportunity to coach on the same staff with John at Georgia, and I’ve coordinated offenses that have gone up against his defenses,” Bobo said in a statement. “He has a great deal of experience coaching and winning at the highest levels of college football, and I’m very excited he is part of the Ram Family.”

The Rams picked up another former colleague of Bobo in Dave Johnson, who enters his first season as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator for CSU. Johnson and Bobo coached together at Georgia from 2001-07 where he served as the tight ends coach for the Bulldogs.

Johnson then became the offensive line coach at West Virginia (2008-10), the tight ends coach with Jancek at Cincinnati (2011-12) and the offensive line coach at UMass (2013). Before joining CSU, Johnson served as the same duties at the University of Ohio.

Under Johnson’s tutelage, Ohio’s rushing attack proved dangerous throughout 2017. The Bobcats ranked 16th in the nation in rushing (244.5 yards per game), ninth in scoring (39.1 points per game) and broke school records for scoring and yards per carry.

A 34-year coaching veteran at the collegiate level, Johnson will replace former offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Will Friend.

Also new to CSU are Keith Gilmore, Eric Lewis and Chase Gibson. A longtime defensive coach, Gilmore will assume defensive line duties at CSU after most recently filling the same role for Notre Dame in 2015-16. Since 2007, Gilmore has coached seven future NFL defensive linemen.


Lewis joins CSU as a cornerbacks coach. Early in his coaching career, Lewis spent two seasons as a defensive quality control coach for the Green Bay Packers. After his NFL experience, Lewis has coached defensive secondaries at Louisville, Buffalo and Georgia State. Last season, Lewis acted as a defensive quality control assistant at the University of Tennessee.

Gibson comes to CSU as the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach. For the past two seasons, Gibson served as the linebackers coach at Eastern Kentucky. Before that, he was on the coaching staff with Jancek at Tennessee as a quality control coach.

Rounding out the staff are coaches already at CSU. A former graduate assistant and defensive quality control coach at CSU, George Helow will coach the Rams’ safeties in 2018.

Bryan Applewhite (running backs), Joe Cox (tight ends), Ronnie Letson (quarterbacks) and Alvis Whitted (wide receivers) will all return at the same positions to finish up the 2018 staff.

The Rams’ 2018 signing class will become official on National Signing Day this Wednesday.

Collegian sports director Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.