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Former UND linebacker and assistant coach Eric Schmidt returns to his alma mater as defensive coordinator.
Schmidt named defensive coordinator
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Updated: Thursday 01/03/2014 15:38:10 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. – A day after naming his offensive coordinator, University of North Dakota head football coach Bubba Schweigert appointed Eric Schmidt to the post of defensive coordinator on his staff. Schmidt is no stranger to Schweigert or UND, having spent the last six seasons as a pupil of UND’s first-year head coach during his time at Southern Illinois and excelling for him as a player at his alma mater from 1997-2001.

“Eric Schmidt is one of the top, young defensive minds in the game, especially when it comes to a 3-4 defense. He had a lot of responsibility down at Southern Illinois for us and I have a lot of confidence in him,” Schweigert said. “And that is not only as a defensive coordinator, but as a leader overall.

“We sat in his living room as a high school senior and he told us he was coming to UND so we can win a national championship. That was his focus and I just believe as a player, he never lost that focus and he was going to do everything within his power to lead our team and keep us on that path. He has the same type of passion as a coach and the last six years I have leaned on him a lot as we coached and implemented our defensive philosophy at SIU.”

As Schweigert mentioned, the Mandan, N.D., native was key a performer as a team captain and senior linebacker on the defense that helped lead UND to a Division II national title in 2001 and has been equally important as a staff member for his SIU defense that has ranked near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference in a number of categories during their tenure in Carbondale.

“UND is a special place and I am really excited to get back there,” Schmidt said. “I really appreciate the opportunity Coach Schweigert has given me. I am anxious to get started and make a difference. I think that is really what sold me on coming back. I am eager to get things started and move forward.”

In six seasons on Dale Lennon’s staff at SIU (2007-13), Schmidt coached the defensive line and both sets of linebackers before being elevated to special teams coordinator for the past two seasons. He was also in charge of the inside linebackers during his finals two seasons and helped a 2012 defensive unit record a pair of shutouts and rank 10th nationally in rushing yards allowed. He coached nine All-Missouri Valley Conference players during his time at SIU, including one first-teamer in 2013.

Schmidt’s first collegiate coaching job came as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2006-07 for Lennon before both moved onto SIU. Schmidt began his football coaching career at nearby Crookston High School where he was the head coach for the Pirates from 2002-2005.

— Go UND —

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