PUEBLO, Colo. Colorado State University-Pueblo Defensive Coordinator Donnell Leomiti has been selected as the 2018 FootballScoop NCAA Division II Coordinator of the Year.
Leomiti finished his 11th season as a member of the CSU-Pueblo Football coaching staff, while it served as his first full season as the Defensive Coordinator after sharing the duties in 2017. Leomiti was an original member of the ThunderWolves coaching staff when the program returned in 2008.
A total of three defensive players totaled six All-American awards this season, while 10 defensive players were named All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Brandon Payer (Sr., ILB, Pine, Colo.) was named All-American by three different publications and earned RMAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Michael Wristen (Sr., DE, Broomfield, Colo.) was named All-American by two publications.
Leomiti continued to coach the defensive backs this season and all four starters were named All-RMAC, while senior corner Darius Williams (Gilbert, Ariz.) was named an All-American for the second straight year and junior safety Tanner Draper (Amarillo, Texas) was recognized as all-region.
In the classroom, nine members of the Pack defense were named Academic All-RMAC, while Payer was named Academic RMAC Defensive Player of the Year.
The CSU-Pueblo defense finished the regular season leading NCAA Division II in turnover margin (+2.1), turnovers gained (38), passes intercepted (22), fumbles recovered (16), team tackles for loss (10.6) and team passing efficiency defense (84.2). Additionally, CSU-Pueblo was top 10 nationally in total defense (3rd, 226.5), sacks (3rd, 3.91), scoring defense (4th, 11.9), 3rd down conversion defense (4th, 25.7), rushing defense (7th, 82.0), passing yards allowed (7th, 144.5), first downs defense (8th, 139) and red zone defense (10th, 64.7).
The ThunderWolves finished fifth in the final Division II rankings in scoring defense, as they allowed 13.2 points per game, which included relinquishing just three points in the final three regular season games (two road contests).
In 11 seasons coaching the defensive backs with the ThunderWolves, Leomiti has guided nine All-Americans, 14 All-Region selections and a total of 34 All-RMAC selections
Leomiti will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention this week. He is the second member of the Pack coaching staff to earn the honor, as former defensive coordinator Hunter Hughes was the 2011 FootballScoop Coordinator of the Year.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football.
THE 2018 THUNDERWOLVES
The ThunderWolves went 11-2 overall and were ranked No. 10 after the regular season where they went 10-1 with a 9-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference record. The Pack shared the 2018 RMAC Championship with Colorado School of Mines to claim their seventh title in the last eight years and the program's eighth overall conference championship. CSU-Pueblo advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the sixth time since 2011 and avenged its only loss of the regular season with a 37-17 first round victory at Mines. The ThunderWolves then traveled to Minnesota State University, Mankato for a postseason meeting with the No. 1 Mavericks for the second straight year. The Pack suffered a 24-10 setback to end their season. CSU-Pueblo ranked No. 7 by D2Football.com and No. 8 by the AFCA in the final Division II national polls.