Ferris State University football head coach Tony Annese announced the appointment of longtime collegiate coach Tesfa Smith as an assistant coach prior to the 2014 championship season. The 2018 campaign will represent his fifth year on the Bulldog staff.
In the 2015 campaign, he helped the Bulldogs to a second-straight GLIAC Championship and unbeaten regular season. FSU posted its first NCAA Playoff victory in 19 years and ran its regular-season winning streak to 25 consecutive games.
The Bulldogs reached even greater heights in 2016 as Ferris State advanced to the NCAA Division II National Semifinals for only the second time in school history. During the memorable postseason run, FSU captured the Super Region Four Championship by beating archrival Grand Valley State on the road in the regional final. The Bulldogs also broke the school record for most consecutive regular-season victories by stretching the mark to 28 in a row early in the year. Ferris State followed up the memorable campaign by reaching the D2 Playoffs for the fourth year in a row in 2017, finishing with an 11-2 record while making its second-straight national quarterfinal showing.
Smith, who had spent the previous seven consecutive seasons as an assistant coach at fellow Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) member Saginaw Valley State, serves as the program's defensive line coach. He has also handled the strength & conditioning duties in the past.
The addition of Smith filled a void created by the departure of former defensive coordinator Lou Esposito, who was named the first-ever head coach at Davenport University.
Prior to FSU, Smith spent nearly 14 years on the Saginaw Valley State coaching staff, helping the Cardinals to unprecedented success under different head coaches. He began his SVSU coaching career during his initial stint from 1999 to 2004. During that period, he coached the linebackers, running backs and tight ends, helping the Cardinals to GLIAC Championship in 2003.
After a stint as the defensive coordinator at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., Smith returned to Saginaw Valley State in 2007. He guided the running backs upon first returning to SVSU before moving to the defensive side of the ball to lead the linebackers the last three years under head coach Jim Collins.
In his tenure handling the linebackers at SVSU, Smith developed one of the top linebacking units in the nation. His 2012 unit was led by All-GLIAC honoree Grant Caserta, who was also tabbed as a Capital One Academic All-American. While at SVSU, he helped the Cardinals to six NCAA Division II Playoff appearances.
As a collegiate student-athlete, Smith was a four-year starter at linebacker for Lakeland College. He was a two-time all-conference performer and chosen as the conference defensive player of the year in each of his final two campaigns.
Smith received his bachelor's degree from Lakeland in marketing and international business with a minor in Spanish. He later earned a master's degree from SVSU in 2001 with an emphasis in business administration.
Smith and his wife, Brooke, have three children and reside in Big Rapids.