Wolf Pack's season opener is Saturday at newly renovated Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.
Ault completes restructuring of coaching staff
Veteran coach takes over the defense as part of coaching staff restructuring
Mike Bradeson returns for the fourth year of his second tenure in Reno and the veteran coach will remain in familiar territory - coaching the Wolf Pack's safeties. In addition, the veteran coach and recruiter will oversee the team's recruiting operations.
Over the past three seasons, Bradeson mentored a young croup of safeties into a veteran unit last year with multi-year starters Duke Williams and Marlon Johnson. Both Johnson and Williams were among the team leaders in tackles the past three seasons. Williams recorded 295 stops in his career, which is sixth-best in Nevada history. Johnson provided one of the biggest highlights of the historic 2010 season with his 65-yard interception return for a touchdown that was a pivotal play in the win over Cal.
Williams earned second-team All-Mountain West honors and was named the team's Most Valuable Player on the defensive side of the ball. He was selected in the fourth round (No. 105 overall) in the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Williams is the ninth players coached or recruited by Bradeson to go on to the NFL. He also mentored three MW Defensive Players of the Year while at UNLV.
This year, Bradeson will work with a young, but promising, group of safeties, led by junior Charles Garrett, who converts back to safety after starting much of the 2012 season at cornerback. Garrett played safety in 2011, starting four games before missing the rest of the season with injury. Among others, Bradeson will mentor four players who are new to the position at the FBS level in sophomore Bryson Keeton (converted from cornerback); junior Necho Beard (converted from wide receiver); Nigel Haikins (juco transfer) and Keith Fuetsch (played basketball the last four years at Nevada and walked on to the football team this year).
When Bradeson came back to Nevada in 2010, he was coming off 15 seasons at UNLV - the longest tenure of any football coach in that school's history. He coached the secondary throughout his time in Las Vegas and he had a successful five-year run (2000-04) as defensive coordinator under head coach John Robinson.
During that time, Bradeson coached or recruited eight players who went on to the NFL and three Mountain West defensive players of the year. While the coordinator, the UNLV defense led the conference and was seventh nationally in takeaways in 2003. In 2001, UNLV led the conference in passing defense (189.4 ypg) and was 11th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
At UNLV, Bradeson oversaw the development of future NFL DBs Kevin Thomas (Bills), Sam Brandon (Broncos), Eric Wright (Browns) and two-time All-America safety Jamaal Brimmer. Under Bradeson in 2003, the Rebel defense led the Mountain West in takeaways with 35 en route to finishing seventh in the nation in turnover margin. The unit's five TDs were led by Brimmer, who scored twice en route to First Team All-America honors and being named consensus MWC Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. In 2001, the Rebels led the MWC in passing defense by yielding only 189.4 yards per game and ranked 11th nationally in passing efficiency defense as well. In 2000, UNLV surrendered only 21.8 points per game, the 12th-lowest mark in school history and best since 1986.
Bradeson came to the Rebels in 1996 after four years coaching the secondary at the University of California. He spent his first season in Las Vegas working with the team's inside linebackers.
A 1981 graduate of Boise State, Bradeson was a two-year letterman for the Broncos. He helped his team to the 1980 Div. I-AA national championship with a win over Eastern Kentucky in the Camellia Bowl. After serving as a graduate assistant for two years, Bradeson was an assistant coach at his alma mater from 1983-85. From there, he moved to Nevada, where he coached from 1986-91. He coached in the secondary, worked with the special teams and also served as the team's recruiting coordinator while with the Pack.
Bradeson was also a member of the 2004 East-West Shrine Game coaching staff.