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December 14, 2012

Tommerdahl named ST coordinator



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BERKELEY - California head coach Sonny Dykes -- currently on a recruiting trip in Southern California - kept hammering away at his staff announcements on Friday, naming Mark Tommerdahl the special teams coordinator/inside receivers coach for the Bears.

In his career, Tommerdahl has served on coaching staffs of 13 bowl teams as well as six league champions and two division winners. This season, his punter -- Ryan Allen -- won his second Ray Guy Award, becoming the first ever back-to-back winner of the prestigious honor.

[PREMIUM: Anderson, Sebastian Weigh In on Special Teams Under Dykes]

"Mark Tommerdahl is a veteran coach that has been a key member of staffs at the top level of college football," Dykes said. "His track record in developing top specialists and producing some of the strongest special teams play in the nation is impeccable. He also does a fantastic job working with inside receivers."

Tommerdahl -- who spent the last four seasons in Ruston -- spent the last three years serving as special teams coach and inside receivers coach for Dykes.

"Cal is a program with a really strong long-standing tradition," Tommerdahl said. "It is our intent to revive that tradition and build upon it. The players are going to be excited about what we do and the fans are going to be excited about the results. We are all looking forward to attracting top-notch student-athletes to one of the finest academic institutions in the nation."

Before Dykes became head coach of the Bulldogs, Tommerdahl was special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. During his tenure with Louisiana Tech, Tommerdahl coached Allen - a two-time first-team All-American - and tight end Dennis Morris, who was named an All-American in 2009.

Louisiana Tech led the nation at the end of the 2012 regular season in net punting with a 43.51 average behind the performance of Allen, who led the nation in punting in 2012 with a school-record 48.04 yards per punt average, punting 45 times for 2,162 yards. He had 21 punts of 50 yards or more, including the nation's longest punt of the season with an 85-yarder at New Mexico State. Allen also pinned opponents inside the 20-yardline on 20 occasions with only five touchbacks.

Allen's 2012 campaign followed a 2011 season in which he was the only player from a non-BCS school to win a national award after averaging 46.12 yards per punt to rank fifth nationally. The Bulldogs were eighth in the country in net punting (40.12 ypg) and also led the nation in kickoff coverage.

In 2010, Louisiana Tech led the WAC and ranked 10th nationally in punt returns with an average of 13.63 yards per return, while ranking fourth in the conference and 25th nationally in kick returns (23.52 ypg). Most of the Bulldogs' prowess was due to the play of Phillip Livas, who led the WAC and ranked sixth nationally with an average of 15.50 yards per punt return. Livas was also fifth in the WAC and 49th nationally in kick returns with a 24.63 average.

Tommerdahl's experience and game-planning on special teams helped Livas tie an NCAA record with the return specialist's eighth career touchdown return in 2010. Livas ended his career with four punt returns and four kickoff returns for a score.

Tommerdahl's coaching helped Morris garner 2009 All-American honors as well as be named the Tight End Performer of the Year by the College Football Performance Awards with 38 catches for 623 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns that were the most nationally among tight ends that season. In addition, his punt return squad led the WAC and ranked 25th nationally (12.33 ypr).

Tommerdahl spent the 2008 season as an assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Louisiana-Monroe. He developed first-team All-Sun Belt tight end Kenneth Zacharie and also had a kickoff coverage team that led the conference.

For five seasons from 2003-07, Tommerdahl was the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Texas A&M. During his tenure with the Aggies, Tommerdahl helped lead the program to the Cotton Bowl (2004), Holiday Bowl (2006) and Alamo Bowl (2007).

Tommerdahl's special teams units in College Station were also among the nation's best, ranking in the top 25 in the nation in net punting in 2006 (25th, 37.00 nypp) and 2007 (5th, 39.17 nypp), and in kickoff returns in 2003 (10th, 23.90 ypr), 2006 (3rd, 26.08 ypr) and 2007 (20th, 23.54 ypr).

He coached present-day NFL tight end Martellus Bennett, who ended his Texas A&M career as the program's all-time leader at the position in receptions and yards. Bennett is having the best NFL season of his career with the New York Giants in 2012 after playing his first four professional campaigns with Dallas following his selection by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

During the 2005 season at Texas A&M, Tommerdahl coached a pair of freshmen All-Americans in Bennett and punter Justin Brantly.

Tommerdahl was on the Alabama staff during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, when he served as the program's special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, helping the Crimson Tide to the 2001 Independence Bowl and 2002 SEC West Division title when the squad finished 11th in the final AP Top 25.

Tommerdahl also served as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach during stints at TCU (1998-2000), New Mexico (1997) and Minnesota (1995-96), coaching a Lou Groza Award semifinalist at all three schools. He added recruiting coordinator duties with the Gophers, as well.

The Horned Frogs won a pair of Western Athletic Conferences titles in 1999 and 2000 on its way to appearances in the Mobile Alabama Bowl each season.

Tommerdahl's special teams groups made significant contributions, with a kickoff return unit that was ranked first nationally both seasons, while his special teams squads led the league in three of four statistical categories.

In 1997 at New Mexico, four of the Lobos' special teams units were ranked in the top 20 in the country as the team won the WAC Mountain Division title and played in the Insight.com Bowl.

The Fergus Falls, Minnesota native began his collegiate coaching career in 1984 with a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Wyoming, where he spent 11 seasons serving in numerous capacities also including offensive coordinator, backfield coach, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. He helped lead the Cowboys to four bowl appearances and three WAC titles during his tenure. Tommerdahl earned bachelor's degrees in business and physical education from Concordia College in 1983 and an MBA with an emphasis in marketing from Wyoming in 1986. He is married to the former Annette Jondahl.


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