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Offensive Coaching Staff

Bill Salmon
Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator

Highly regarded as one of UNI’s best quarterbacks ever, associate head coach and co-offensive coordinator Bill Salmon has served as an assistant coach in all 35 Panther FCS playoff games in the program’s history. The 2012 season will be Salmon’s 27th season as a Panther assistant coach.

In 2012, Salmon served as the wide receivers coach along with his offensive coordinator duties, leading the receiving corps to a successful season. Salmon saw senior Terrell Sinkfield rack up 499 yards through the air as one of Sawyer Kollmorgen’s main targets. Salmon also led a young group on the receiving team with Brett LeMaster shining as a sophomore with 601 receiving yards and four touchdowns. As offensive coordinator, Salmon helped the UNI offensive finish with 2,594 yards in the air and 1,637 yards on the ground.

During the 2011 campaign, Salmon helped UNI to a 7-1 MVFC record, sharing the MVFC crown.

In 2010, Salmon led the UNI offense to a No. 9 ranking in the nation in rushing offense and No. 1 ranking in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Salmon also took over as the Panthers' running backs coach in 2010, where he oversaw the running of honorable mention all-MVFC back Carlos Anderson.

In 2009, Salmon directed the Panther offense to a Missouri Valley Football Conference-best 417.3 yards per game. UNI also topped the MVFC in passing efficiency and ranked 11th in the nation in that category. The Panthers put up 367 points on the season (33.4 per game), including seven games of 28 points or better.

Quarterback Pat Grace was the MVFC first-team selection at quarterback, tight ends Ryan Mahaffey and Schuylar Oordt were second-team honorees, and wide receiver D.J. Hord was named honorable mention under Salmon's guidance.

Salmon (SAHL-mun) rejoined the Panther staff in 2001 as associate head coach, offensive coordinator and assistant in charge of the wide receivers. Prior to his return to UNI, Salmon served as the offensive coordinator at the University of Kansas from 1997-2000. Salmon was also the running backs coach for the Jayhawks in 1999 and 2000.

"It's still UNI," he said upon his return to the Cedar Valley. "Still football. Still people I know. It's easy. This is home." Salmon is a native of Cedar Falls, a graduate of Cedar Falls High School and a UNI football alum.

Salmon started three years at quarterback (1973-75) for the Panthers and was known for his excellent throwing arm, quick release, great quickness, speed, football knowledge (he called about 75 percent of his own plays), and was superb at running the Panther veer attack. He ran as good as any running back, and was not afraid to do so.

He was a third team all-America selection and North Central Conference Offensive Player of the Year following his senior campaign when he led UNI to the NCAA Division II playoffs. He set a multitude of school records, including throwing for 4,342 regular season career yards and gaining 5,371 yards in total offense. He was drafted in the 10th round by the Minnesota Vikings, but an off-season knee injury ended his playing career.

Former UNI director of athletics and head football coach, Stan Sheriff, called Salmon "the greatest and smartest quarterback I've ever coached. He can throw the ball a mile, runs like any back and could even kick if we asked him to. I've never seen a quarterback with as much talent, confidence, poise and knowledge as Bill Salmon has. But it's his take-charge attitude and game-breaking capabilities which really makes him great."

Salmon first served as a UNI assistant from 1983-96, coaching the wide receivers and running backs. He was Farley's first appointee when he was hired at UNI as head coach.

"Trust is the number one reason," Farley said when describing why he wanted Salmon on his staff. "I was a defensive coach and I wanted someone I could turn the offense over to, and let them control that phase of the game."

In 2005, the Panthers' offense flourished and set a school record with 6,008 yards of total offense. UNI also set school marks in points scored (449), offensive plays (1,024) and first downs (298). UNI ranked No. 6 in the nation in pass efficiency, No. 31 in passing offense, No. 32 in scoring offense and No. 34 in total offense. The Panthers placed first in the Gateway in passing efficiency, fourth in pass offense, fifth in rushing offense and fifth in total offense.

The Panther offense continued to put up impressive numbers in 2006. UNI ranked No. 4 in the nation in total offense (408.3 yards/game), 8th in passing efficiency (152.45 rating), 10th in rushing offense (219.3 yards/game) and 11th in scoring (31.0 points/game). In 2006, the Panthers led the league in total offense.

In 2007, UNI led the league in total offense (457.31 yards/game) and ranked second in the league in passing efficiency (168.19 rating). The Panther offense set school records for points (469), rushing yards (2,956), rushing touchdowns (39), first downs (322) and rushing first downs (163).

The UNI offense put together one of the finest seasons ever in 2007 under Salmon. The Panthers scored 469 points to set a school record and tallied the most rushing yards (2,956) in school history.

In 2008, the Panther offense set a school record with 661 rushing attempts while earning a No. 3 seed for the FCS playoffs and racking up a school-record tying 12 victories. He tutored a pair of freshmen to the Missouri Valley Football Conference's All-Newcomer team in Jarred Herring and Josh Collins in 2008. Collins led the Panthers with 502 receiving yards and 32 catches, while Herring led the team with four touchdown receptions.

Salmon has coached 33 Panther all-conference selections, 13 all-Americans and six wide receivers who have gone on to play in the NFL, including wide receiver Dedric Ward, who was a third-round selection in the 1998 NFL draft by the New York Jets.

His wife's name is Kim. He was born Jan. 27, 1954, in Des Moines, Iowa. He graduated from Cedar Falls High School in 1972, where he was an all-conference, all-district and all-state selection and a team MVP.

The Salmon File

Awards & Honors

  • 2001 UNI Athletics Hall of Fame

Coaching Experience

  • 2001-Present UNI Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers
  • 1998-00 Kansas Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs
  • 1997-99 Kansas Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends
  • 1996 UNI Wide Receivers
  • 1988-95 UNI Running Backs
  • 1986-87 UNI Wide Receivers
  • 1983-85 UNI Running Backs


  • University of Northern Iowa (Bachelor's), 1980

Playing Experience

  • University of Northern Iowa, 1972-76
  • 1974 Honorable Mention All-American, Honorable Mention All-North Central Conference
  • 1975 North Central Conference MVP, 1st team all-conference, 3rd team All-American
  • Set nine school records


  • Born:  January 27, 1954, in Des Moines, IA
  • Hometown:  Cedar Falls, IA
  • Family:  Wife, Kim

Mario Verduzco
Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach

Biomechanics, Motor Learning and Cognitive Psychology ... Affective, Psychomotor, Cognitive and Physical - the four domains of learning ... all terms and phrases used by co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco in his daily language of teaching.

Verduzco developed a Quarterback Seminar, which is widely regarded as one of the best quarterback teaching situations in the nation. Each summer, during the month of June, Verduzco employs five seperate seminar sessions, each with a maximum of eight quarterbacks to teach young men from around the country the mental and physical skills and tools required to become an effective and efficient quarterback.

When UNI head coach Mark Farley went looking for a quarterbacks coach, he could not have landed a better technician than Verduzco. Since his arrival at UNI in 2001, Verduzco has spun his magic with the Panther signal callers. In 2001, UNI true freshman quarterback Tom Petrie was named the league's Freshman of the Year and to the league's All-Newcomer team. The Panthers also benefited from the play of backup quarterback Griff Jurgens during the '01 season. Jurgens led the Panthers to a 5-1 record as the starter including a pair of playoff victories over Eastern Illinois and Maine.

After Petrie sustained a season-ending injury in the team's fourth game of the year in 2004, redshirt freshman Eric Sanders took over the role and was named the league's Freshman of the Year when it all was over. He completed 95-of-150 passes for 1,307 yards, setting a school freshman record, and seven TDs.

Under the assistance of Verduzco, Sanders developed into one of the nation's best FCS quarterbacks. Sanders finished his Panther career ranked No. 1 all-time among FCS quarterbacks with a 69.59 percent completion percentage. Sanders completed his Panthers' career as the school's all-time leader in pass completions (714) and total offense yards (9,579). Sanders finished second in the 2007 Walter Payton Award balloting.

Verduzco's teaching extended to a new quarterback in 2008 as Pat Grace took over the reins from Sanders. Grace put together a fine season through the air and on the ground. Grace passed for a team-high 2,041 yards and 14 touchdowns, while rushing for a team-high 11 scores that earned him second team All-Conference honors - in his first year as the starting quarterback.

Not to be forgotten about in 2008 was the play of backup quarterback Zach Davis, who earned league All-Newcomer status despite only starting three games. Davis did the unthinkable as he led the Panthers to a perfect 3-0 record in three conference road starts.

In 2009, Verduzco coached Grace to first-team All-MVFC honors. Grace finished third in the voting for the league's Offensive Player of the Year after he led the conference and ranked fifth in the nation in passing efficiency. He also led the conference in total offense as a dual-threat quarterback, passing for 2,280 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for eight more scores.

In 2010, Verduzco developed Tirrell Rennie into a second-team All-MVFC quarterback. Rennie produced the first-ever 1,000-yard rushing season by a UNI signal caller. Rennie finished with 1,291 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing on the season. He also threw for 1,526 yards on the year.

During the 2012 season, Verduzco coached young redshirt freshman Sawyer Kollmorgen after losing stand-out quarterback Rennie to graduation. Verduzco led Kollmorgen to finishing with 2,594 passing yards and 22 touchdowns on the way to winning MVFC Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors. Kollmorgen finished second in the conference in total offense averaging 228.4 yards per game and in passing average per game with 222.7. He also finished first in pass efficiency at 141.9. Kollmorgen passed for over 200 yards in nine games this season including a season high 333 yards against Youngstown State.

Verduzco spent five years (1996-2000) working with the signal callers and as recruiting coordinator at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., the last season as head quarterbacks coach. During his tenure at Rutgers, he developed what has been described as one of the best Quarterback Schools in the country, when young players from around the country spent four days learning the skills, both mentally and physically, of quarterbacking.

His prize pupil, Rutgers quarterback Mike McMahon, quarterbacked the Detroit Lions and is a former Quarterback School participant. In total, he has coached four quarterbacks who have gone on to play in the NFL. Added to the list is UNI's Tom Petrie, who signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins in April 2005.

Verduzco himself learned the trade from the best, working under head coach Terry Shea at San Jose State and at Rutgers. Shea has moved on to coach in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, and most recently with the St. Louis Rams.

Prior to being named at Rutgers, Verduzco was associate head coach, Offensive Coordinator, and quarterbacks and receivers coach at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif., beginning in 1991, moving up to head coach from 1994-95. While coaching at De Anza, he spent time with arguably one of the best NFL coaches in history as both Bill Walsh and his mentor, Shea, conducted a private NFL quarterback camp at De Anza.

Verduzco began his coaching career at Soquel High School in 1977 before moving on to Gavilan College as Offensive Coordinator and quarterbacks and receivers coach in 1987. From 1990-91, he served as graduate coach at San Jose State before moving on to De Anza.

The cousin of former Illinois and British Columbia record-setting quarterback Jason Verduzco and uncle of former Yale quarterback Bobby Verduzco, he graduated from San Jose State in 1988 with a degree in Human Performance. He received his master's in Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology from SJSU in 1990. That's when he authored the book "Quarterbacks Born or Made? The Biomechanics of the quarterback position: An integrative approach."

Upon his appointment at UNI, Verduzco said, "I think (the Panther quarterbacks) have enjoyed having me come in. I don't know a lot of things, but I know three things - there is a God, I'm not God, and the best thing there is in the world is coaching offensive football and quarterbacks."

Farley said, "Mario coaches quarterbacks like I coach linebackers. He's real detailed. He's in-depth about angles."

Verduzco was born on May 23 in Pittsburg, Calif. His wife's name is Cate and the couple has a 17-year-old son, Charles.

The Verduzco File

Coaching Experience

  • 2001-Present UNI Quarterbacks
  • 2000 Rutgers Quarterbacks/Recruiting Coordinator
  • 1996-99 Rutgers Assistant Quarterbacks/Recruiting Coordinator
  • 1994-95 De Anza College Head Coach
  • 1991-93 De Anza College Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Receivers
  • 1990-91 San Jose State Graduate Assistant
  • 1987-89 Gavilan College Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Receivers
  • 1982-86 Soquel High School (Soquel, CA) Pass Offense Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Receivers/Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs/Linebackers
  • 1979-81 Soquel High School Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs/Linebackers
  • 1977-78 Soquel High School Defensive Backs
  • San Jose State (Bachelor's Human Performance), 1988
  • San Jose State (Master's Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology), 1990


  • Born:  May 23 in Pittsburg, CA
  • Hometown:  Pittsburg, CA
  • Family:  Wife, Cathy; son, Charles, 16

Rick Nelson
Offensive Line Coach

Rick Nelson will direct the offensive line again in 2013 after helping the Panthers rewrite the record book in recent seasons. Nelson is entering his 24th year as an offensive line coach in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

During the 2012 season, Nelson coached the offensive line to help the Panthers rack up 1,637 yards on the ground and the line only allowed 11 sacks on the season. He coached junior Dan Kruger to a successful season with the junior earning MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors during the season.

In 2011, Nelson and the offensive line won a share of the 16th-MVFC football crown with a 7-1 conference record.  The title was the seventh since 2001.

In 2010, the UNI rushing offense ranked No. 9 in the nation and No. 1 in the MVFC. UNI's Tirrell Rennie ranked No. 16 in the nation in rushing, while Carlos Anderson ranked No. 37 in the nation.

In 2009, the Panther offense ranked 10th in the nation in scoring, 13th in total offense and 14th in rushing offense on their way to racking up 417.3 yards per game. UNI also ranked seventh in the nation and first in the MVFC in sacks allowed per game. Offensive tackle Austin Howard was recognized on the AFCA FCS All-American team under Nelson's tutelage and center Austin Steichen was named a second-team All-American by both the Sports Network and the Associated Press.

In 2008, he had a pair of tackles drafted in the National Football League Draft. Chad Rinehart went in the third round to the Washington Redskins, while Brandon Keith was selected in the seventh round by the Arizona Cardinals.

Under Nelson's guidance in 2007 the Panther offensive line cleared the running lanes for Corey Lewis, who set a school record with 1,513 rushing yards, while also picking up blockers and creating throwing lanes for Eric Sanders, who finished second in the balloting for the Walter Payton Award.

Nelson is one of four former Panther players on this year's staff and he was re-hired by UNI in February 2000 after spending 11 years at Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. Nelson was a two-year letterman for UNI as an offensive lineman when he played from 1980-83.

He received his bachelor's degree in 1984 and served as the Panthers' Strength and Conditioning coach and graduate assistant for two years before going to Garden City Community College as offensive coordinator and strength coach. The Bronc Busters placed second in the Jayhawk Conference in 1987 and captured the title in 1988. From Garden City, Nelson moved on to MVFC-foe Missouri State University, serving as offensive line coach from 1989-99. He was head football coach and physical education instructor at Woodward High School in Woodward, Okla., in 1999.

While playing for the Panthers, Nelson was a member of the 1984 and '85 conference championship teams which advanced to the FCS playoffs. At Missouri State, he was a member of a staff that broke 35 offensive records. He coached four Bear offensive linemen who signed with the NFL. Six of his Missouri State players were named all-American, 20 were named all-conference, four were selected Academic All-Americans, and two were named to the MVFC All-Decade Team.

Two of the Missouri State teams won consecutive conference titles and advanced to the FCS playoffs during his tenure.

Nelson has coached nine linemen who have gone on to play in the NFL, 12 all-conference selections and four all-Americans at UNI, including Ben Deike, who was named a first-team College Sports all-American, second-team by the Associated Press and The Sports Network, in 2003. Luke Stigler was a first-team all-conference pick in 2004. Chad Rinehart was a first-team all-Gateway pick in 2005 and 2006, while Joe Lobdell was an honorable mention all-conference pick in 2005 and earned second team honors in 2006. Brad Harms was an NFL free agent in 2000.

Nelson received UNI's "Oil Can Award" in 1983, given by the coaches to the player showing ability, performance, attitude and leadership. As a prep at Urbandale High School, he was selected to the Iowa High School Boys Athletic Association All-State Football Team, Central Iowa All-Conference, and Urbandale's MVP in 1978.

He and his wife, Jamie, have two children - Nick, 26, and Wes, 22.

The Nelson File

Coaching Experience

  • 2000-Present UNI Offensive Line
  • 1999 Woodward High School (Woodward, OK) Head Coach
  • 1989-99S outhwest Missouri StateOffensive Line
  • 1986-88 Garden City Community CollegeOffensive Coordinator/Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • 1984-85 UNI Graduate Assistant/Strength and Conditioning Coach


  • UNI (Physical Education), 1984

Playing Experience

  • Mid-American Nazarene 1979
  • UNI 1980-83
  • Three-year letterman
  • 1983 Oil Can Award Recipient


  • Born:  December 5, 1960, in Council Bluffs, IA
  • Hometown:  Urbandale, IA
  • Family:  Wife, Jamie; sons, Nick, 25, and Wes, 21

Ryan Mahaffey
Tight Ends Coach

Ryan Mahaffey enters his first season as the tight ends coach at the University of Northern Iowa.

Mahaffey graduated from UNI in the spring of 2011 with a degree in Economics. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in June of 2011 and spent time with the Colts and Miami Dolphins prior to volunteering as an assistant coach during spring drills at UNI in 2013.

As an Indianapolis Colt, Mahaffey saw action in five games with one reception for five yards in 2011 before signing with the Miami Dolphins.

As a Panther, Mahaffey played in 51 career games. He finished with 25 catches for 227 yards during his time in purple and old gold.

Mahaffey was a two-time second team All-MVFC selection and was named to the MVFC All-Newcomer team as a redshirt freshman in 2007. He was also named to the MVFC All-Academic team twice in his career.

Todd Blythe
Offensive Assistant Coach

Todd Blythe will enter his second season at UNI and his first season as the wide receivers coach.

Blythe coached the running backs, punt returns and the front line on the Panthers’ kickoff team in 2012. Both Carlos Anderson and David Johnson earned all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors last season under Blythe’s tutelage. Anderson earned All-America honors as a return specialist. Blythe also assisted in the recruitment of in-state prospects in eastern Iowa this past season.

Prior to working at UNI, Blythe served as an assistant football coach at Simpson College (Indianola, Iowa) in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Blythe had five Storm wide receivers and returners earned all-conference honors in those two seasons.

Blythe was a four-time Big 12 honoree while playing wide receiver for the Iowa State Cyclones from 2003-07. Blythe holds the career records at Iowa State in receiving yards (3,096), receptions (176), touchdown receptions (31).

Blythe was a member of the New Orleans Saints in the National Football League from April 2008 to September 2008. Blythe played for the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League from 2009-2011.

A 2008 graduate of Iowa State, Blythe earned his degree in liberal arts.

Garrett Scott
Graduate Assistant

Garrett Scott enters his first season as a graduate assistant coach at UNI. Scott, who finished his career at UNI in 2012, will work primarily with the Panther defense.

Scott wrapped up his career at UNI during the 2012 season as the Panthers’ starting safety. Scott finished his collegiate playing days with 248 tackles, including 72 tackles, a pick-six and three pass breakups during his senior season.

Scott earned All-MVFC honorable mention to cap off an excellent playing career at UNI.

The Davenport, Iowa native graduated from UNI in the spring of 2013 with a degree in movement and exercise science.

D.J. Hord
Director of Football Operations

D.J. Hord is in his first season as the Director of Football Operations for the Panther football squad.

Hord served as a graduate assistant coach working with the offense in 2012.

Hord played two seasons (2008, 2009) at UNI. He played in 26 games for the Panthers, accumulating 51 catches for 750 yards and five touchdowns.

Prior to playing at UNI, Hord was a wide receiver for Notre Dame. He played in 12 games for the Fighting Irish recording seven kick-off returns for 123 yards.

A graduate of Notre Dame, Hord earned his degree in business finance in 2009.