Florida Tech Hires Former Michigan Coach Mark Smith To Coach Defensive Line
By Zach Clark // April 28, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – On Monday, head coach Steve Englehart announced the hiring of Mark Smith as the Panthers’ new defensive line coach.
Smith will also assume duties as FIT’s associate head coach.
Smith fills the shoes of former defensive line coach Rod Hardy, who moved on from FIT after a two year stint as a graduate assistant.
Englehart and Smith are certainly no strangers to each other. Smith was the defensive line, special teams and inside linebacker coach at Indiana State during Englehart’s playing career as a Sycamore from 1996-99.
Having served his time in the frozen tundra, Smith is ready to enjoy the Florida sunshine while being a part of one of the up and coming programs in Division II.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be here,” said Smith.
“I’ve known Steve Englehart a lot of years. He’s a good football coach and an even better person. I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to working with these kids. It’s exciting to come into a new program, it really is.”
A 33 year veteran of the coaching profession, Smith last coached the defensive line at Michigan in 2014. He spent four seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan, heading the linebacker unit the first three seasons.
Smith’s unit produced two of the Wolverines’ top three leading tacklers in 2013 in James Ross III (85 tackles) and Desmond Morgan (79 tackles) and the team’s top three tackles leaders in 2012.
The 2012 group was led by All-Big Ten second team linebacker Jake Ryan’s 88 tackles, 16.0 stops for loss, 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, while Kenny Demens had 82 tackles, including six tackles for loss. Morgan had 81 stops, 5.5 for loss.
The linebacking corps in 2012 helped U-M limit opponents to 19.8 points per game, fourth in the Big Ten and 20th nationally, and 320.0 total yards per game, second in the conference and 13th in the country.
In 2011, Smith’s group helped the Wolverines to an 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl victory. U-M’s defense ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth in the FBS in scoring defense, surrendering only 17.4 points per game.
The Wolverines defense also ranked third in the conference in rushing defense (131.7 yards per game), fourth in total yards per game (322.2) and fifth in passing defense (190.5 ypg). The linebackers also contributed to a conference best 29 turnovers forced and an FBS-best 20 fumbles recovered.
Prior to moving to the Big Ten, Smith was the linebackers coach on Brady Hoke’s staff at San Diego State for six years.
He was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Ball State from 2003-08.
In 2008, Ball State ranked 29th nationally in scoring defense, surrendering just over 20 points per game. Under his guidance, the Cardinals’ defense also was 28th in tackles for loss, 38th in pass efficiency defense, 55th in pass defense and 69th in total defense.
In his career, he has also made stops at Rose-Hulman, Bowling Green and Defiance High School in Ohio.
With an accomplished staff already at his disposal, Englehart will now have someone who’s been through it all to rely on.
“It’s pretty obvious when you look at his body of work and his resume over the last 30 years that he is going to bring a ton of experience to our staff,” said Englehart.
“Not just from the defensive line standpoint but the entire defense as well as with the operations of a football program. Even myself as a head coach can learn from some of the experiences that he’s had over the years. He’s worked for some really good head coaches.”
With such a long and distinguished career at the highest level of college football, Smith will be an incredible asset to the Panther coaching staff.
“Bottom line is, there’s going to be some times where we’re in a staff meeting and a conversation comes up about a certain way to do things,” Englehart continued.
“He’s most likely going to have some experience either good or bad with whatever we’re talking about and will be able to give some insight to us. He’s a really good motivator.”
With a promising stable of lineman, spearheaded by All-Gulf South Conference standout Skylar Sheffield, the future looks bright for the Panther defensive line under Smith.
“He’ll motivate that defensive line and get them to play at a very high level,” said Englehart.