DES MOINES, Iowa – First-year Drake University head football coach Rick Fox has announced five additions to his staff with the hiring of Brad Pole, Todd Stepsis, Allen Smith, Dominic Robinson and Matt Purdom as assistant coaches.
Of the five assistant coaches, four have previous collegiate experience as coordinators while Pole brings more than a decade of head coaching experience to Fox's staff.
“It's a great group of guys in terms of football experience, but more importantly a great group in terms of what they're all about as men,” Fox said of the recent hires.
“The No. 1 thing that we want in a coach is somebody that will fit with Drake football and our five program goals,” Fox added. “Those are academic success; for our student-athletes be their best; to help us be a close football family; to make playing football fun and to mold impact men on our campus and in our community. We've got to have coaches that help us do those five things.”
Pole will serve as the Bulldogs' pass-game and recruiting coordinator. The veteran coach has more than three decades of collegiate coaching experience most recently as the offensive coordinator at Morningside College in 2012-13. There he helped guide the Mustangs to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the NAIA national championship game. Prior to that, he served as the head coach at Dakota Wesleyan from 2005-2011 and was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2008.
“He brings so much experience to our staff,” Fox said of Pole's background. “I didn't dream that we had the potential to attract a coach with that experience when I started to look at filling this position. He has experience as a coordinator, head coach and has coached multiple positions on both sides of the ball.”
Pole also gained head coaching experience at Luther College from 1996-2001. He earned his bachelor's degree from Rocky Mountain college and a graduate degree from the University of Minnesota and began his coaching career at Bethel College. He has also served on staffs at the University of Sioux Falls, Augustana, Moorhead State and Concordia.
Stepsis will serve as Fox's defensive coordinator following six seasons in the same role at Division II power Saginaw Valley State. There, he helped coach the Cardinals to a 44-23 record, three-consecutive GLIAC North Division titles and three NCAA playoff berths. He coached 37 defensive all-conference performers, including the conference's all-time leading tackler and three standouts that went on to NFL and CFL careers. One of those former student-athletes, Jeff Heath, is the starting safety for the Dallas Cowboys, while another, Matt Black, is a cornerback for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts.
“He has an incredible knowledge of the game and from what I can see he relates very well with the players,” Fox said of his defensive coordinator.
Prior to joining the SVSU staff, he was an assistant at Capital University for eight seasons during which the program amassed a 57-20 record and earned three straight NCAA Division III playoff berths from 2005-07. The team advanced to the quarterfinals in 2005 and 2006. He began his coaching career at Otterbein where he coached the top ranked pass defense in the conference and helped the program to its first winning season in nearly two decades. He graduated with magna cum laude honors from Ashland University with a degree in special education and also received a master's degree from Ashland in sport education.
Allen Smith joins Fox's staff following six seasons at St. Scholastica where he was the defensive coordinator the past two seasons. At Drake, he will oversee the team's linebackers. In his two seasons guiding St. Scholastica's defense, the Saints boasted the top defense in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference while winning a pair of conference titles with two NCAA Division III playoff appearances.
Allen began his career at St. Scholastica in 2008, the program's first season, as the team's defensive backs coach. Three years later his work resulted in an undefeated season and conference title for the fledgling program. He received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Wingate University where he was a two-time team captain and all-conference selection.
“They started their program six years ago at St. Scholatisca and have become conference champions and playoff contenders,” Fox said of Allen's pedigree, “He is a really bright and up-and-coming football coach that we're excited to have with us.”
Drake's new cornerbacks coach, Dominic Robinson, boasts an impressive background both as a coach and student-athlete. A graduate of Florida State and two-sport standout for the Seminoles, he was signed by the St. Louis Rams and also drafted by the Minnesota Twins. He spent two seasons as high school coordinator at Leon High School in Tallahassee, Fla., before moving to Dallas, Texas, while starting his family and a career in sport performance coaching. His former college coach Daryl Dickey offered him a position on the staff coaching wide receivers at West Georgia to begin his collegiate coaching career. Soon after he assumed the reins as the defensive coordinator at Graceland University in 2010. In 2012 he founded 3D Sports Performance in Des Moines, Iowa, where he worked many camps and clinics alongside former Drake head coach Chris Creighton, Rick Fox and the Drake staff prior to Fox adding him to the staff at Drake. He will continue to run his performance business while he tutors the cornerbacks. Dominic is married to Mary Beth, a former University of Florida swimmer, and the couple has three boys, Duce (9) Dyson (5) and Dash (2).
“Dominic brings tremendous experience at the Division I and NFL level both as a player as well as being a coordinator at the collegiate level,” Fox said.
The final addition to Fox's staff, Matt Purdom, is no stranger to the Bulldogs as he recently ended his five-year career at Drake following an unfortunate career-ending knee injury in a 2013 loss at UNI. The anchor of the offensive line, he helped pave the way for the Bulldogs' highest offensive output in eight years as a junior in 2012.
“We're excited about Matt joining us,” Fox said. “He knows Drake and he knows what Drake football is about.”
Drake's additions to the coaching staff will get their first opportunity to work with the team on the field on March 26 with the start of the Bulldogs' spring practices.
“I'm really excited about our new coaches, they are what Drake football is all about,” Fox said. “They are guys that will make an impact on the team both in how they teach the game of football and how they will invest in our players' lives.”