Big Rapids, Mich. – The Ferris State University football program and head coach Tony Annese landed one of the nation's top prep recruiting classes on national signing day in early February following an impressive debut season on the field last fall.
Today, the excitement continues to build for the 2013 campaign as he announced another important addition to the program with the appointment of the program’s new defensive coordinator in former Division I assistant coach Lou Esposito, who brings both previous head coaching experience along with significant Division I and professional football experience to the Bulldog staff.
Esposito most recently spent the last three seasons from 2010-12 at Western Michigan University as the Broncos' defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator while also serving in a defensive assistant head coaching role under former WMU head coach Bill Cubit.
A past Division I offensive lineman at the University of Memphis, Esposito spent five years as the head coach at Division II Saint Joseph's (Ind.) before moving to Western Michigan and becomes the third current member of the Bulldog staff with either collegiate or professional head coaching experience, joining Annese and current wide receivers coach Sparky McEwen, who formerly was a head coach in the Arena Football League (AFL).
Like McEwen, Esposito also brings professional experience to the program as well as he played in the AFL with the now-defunct Memphis Xplorers and served as their offensive and defensive line coach along with special teams coordinator from 2002-03.
Esposito fills the defensive coordinator role formerly occupied by West Michigan native Ryan Oshnock, who departed in February to become the new special teams coordinator at Division I Eastern Michigan.
"It’s great when your assistant coaches have an opportunity to climb the coaching ladder, but fortunately we’ve found a coach with outstanding experience and a wealth of knowledge at several levels in Lou Esposito,” Annese said. "We're thrilled he's excited about this opportunity to join our staff here at Ferris State and believe he’s a key piece as we continue to build something special here in Big Rapids."
Esposito, who was the 2009 Great Lakes Football Conference Coach of the Year while at Saint Joseph's, coached a pair of All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) performers on the defensive line at Western Michigan in Drew Nowak and Freddie Bishop. Nowak went on to earn MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2011 as well as Phil Steele All-America accolades. His starting defensive line accounted for 18.0 sacks, 43.0 tackles for loss and 16 QB hurries in 2011. Bishop claimed All-MAC recognition in 2012 for the second-straight year after ranking fifth in the conference with 11.5 tackles for loss.
Success followed New Jersey native Esposito to Kalamazoo in 2010
as the Bronco defense ranked third in the league in sacks and
fourth in tackles for loss with most of that production coming from
the defensive line. Paul Hazel, a Third Team All-MAC
selection, ranked third in the conference in sacks per game and
32nd in the country.
Esposito joined the Ferris State staff at a critical time as the Bulldogs began their spring football drills on Friday leading up to the annual Crimson & Gold Spring Game on April 13 at Top Taggart Field.
“I’m excited about this opportunity to join the program and begin working with an outstanding coaching staff and some great players,” Esposito said. “This spring will be important for us from a defensive standpoint and the guys have been responded very well so far, so that is extremely encouraging.”
Esposito, a two-time GLFC Coach of the Year, and his coaching staff captured GLFC championships twice during his tenure at Saint Joseph's, in 2006 and again in 2009. SJC posted a 30-25 record with Esposito at the helm and recorded a 100 percent graduation rate for four-year student-athletes over six years.
He coached 23 All-GLFC student-athletes in 2009 alone, ranking first in both rushing offense and defense. The Pumas also had the top-ranked red zone offense in the GLFC, boasting the 2009 GLFC Offensive Player of the Year and an unblemished record in conference play.
Esposito, who also served as the defensive coordinator at SJC, prided himself on the fact that his team ranked first in the conference in turnover margin and sacks in 2009 and ranked 13th in the nation in turnover margin in 2008. In 2007, his defense was ranked 35th in the country and 28th in defensive passing efficiency. Offensively, the Pumas ranked eighth in fewest fumbles lost in 2007.
In 2006, SJC ranked 14th nationally in total defense, blocking a
program record nine kicks and causing a program record 38
turnovers. Esposito’s defense registered 91 tackles for
loss in 2006 and ranked fourth in the country in turnover
During the 2005 campaign, Esposito’s first as head coach, the Pumas recorded their first back-to-back winning seasons in 20 years, set eight single season records and ranked 11th in the country in pass efficiency defense. In his first year on the staff as the defensive coordinator in 2004, Esposito took a defense that had ranked 147th up to 30th in the country in just one season.
A four-year letterwinner on the offensive line at the University of Memphis, Esposito was elected captain during the 1999 and 2000 campaigns. He signed a contract to play with the Memphis Xplorers of the Arena Football League in 2001 and was part of the Xplorers' coaching staff as the offensive/defensive line coach and special teams coordinator from December of 2002 through December of 2003.
Esposito, 35, an AFCA member since 2003, and his wife Brooke have a son, Louis Joseph Esposito IV, who was born on March 20, 2009, along with a daughter, Emilia Rose Esposito, born August 17, 2012.