FootballScoop is proud to announce that Donnell Leomiti is the 2018 FootballScoop Division II Coordinator of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
No matter how much time passes, how many new schemes and wrinkles their offensive counter parts come up with, how many permutations they find to arrange their running backs and wide receivers, the formula for great defense will always remain the same -- stop the run, get in front of the pass and turn your opponent over.
Colorado State-Pueblo did all three in 2018.
The Thunderwolves were No. 6 in the country against the run, permitting just 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns on 507 attempts. Opponents averaged 2.13 yards per carry, the second-worst rate in Division II.
When opponents weren't getting anything done on the ground, they often turned to the air. That's where things got even worse for them.
In 403 pass attempts, Colorado State-Pueblo permitted 196 completions (48.6 percent) for 2,062 yards (5.12 per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against 28 interceptions -- an 86.73 efficiency rating that was the stingiest in the nation.
Add it all up and you get a defense that was fifth in Division II at 241.8 yards per game and first on a down per down basis at 3.45.
But these Thunderwolves' dominance did not stop there. Not content to just stuff their opponents, they had to terrorize them as well. Their 4.0 sacks per game were second in the nation and, in addition to their 28 interceptions, Colorado State-Pueblo recovered 17 fumbles, putting their takeaway total at a Division II-best 45 on the season.
CSU-Pueblo's scoring average of 13.2 points per game was the fifth best in Division II. Four opponents were held to three points or shutout altogether, including a remarkable streak in which the Thunderwolves pitched two straight shoutouts then held a third opponent to just a field goal, part of an incredible string of 67 consecutive possessions over a 5-game stretch that ended without a touchdown.
Senior linebacker Brandon Payer and senior linebacker Darius Williams were named D2Football.com First Team All-Americans, while senior defensive lineman Michael Wristen made the Second Team. Payer was also named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's Defensive Player of the Year and the National Football Foundation Colorado Chapter Defensive Player of the Year. Payer, Williams, Wristen, junior safety Tanner Draper, senior linebacker Noor Shongolo and senior defensive tackle Deyon Sizer were named First Team All-RMAC, while junior defensive end Jackson Wibbels, junior linebacker Kyle Rosenbrock and junior cornerback Emery Taylor made the Second Team, giving the Thunderwolves nine honorees.
Leomiti played wide receiver and safety at Colorado, then moved into coaching in the Colorado high school ranks. He returned to CU as a defensive intern in 2005-06. He has been with the CSU-Pueblo staff since the program re-started in 2008 and was promoted to defensive coordinator ahead of the 2018 campaign.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Jonathan Beasley and Scott Carey [Tarleton State], Nick Fulton [Colorado School of Mines], Roddy Mote [Harding], John Steger [Minnesota-Duluth] and Leomiti) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Leomiti will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.
Previous winners of the Division II Coordinator of the Year award are Tim Beck (Pittsburg State [Kan.], 2008), Scott Preston (Arkansas Tech, 2009), Ken Collums (Abilene Christian, 2010), Hunter Hughes (Colorado State-Pueblo, 2011), Paul Tortorella (Indiana [Pa.], 2012), Josh Kline (Shepherd [W. Va.], 2013), Rich Wright (Northwest Missouri State, 2014 and 2015), Charlie Flohr (Northwest Missouri State, 2016) and Matt Storm (Texas A&M-Commerce, 2017).
1st Nationally - Yards Per Play
1st Nationally - Passing Efficiency
1st Nationally - Takeaways
67 straight possessions without a TD
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