Veteran offensive coach comes to Nevada from Iowa.
Erb was hired at Nevada on March 25, 2013, bringing with him a reputation as one of the top assistants in football with FBS experience – which included stops at Iowa, Army and Syracuse – and NFL experience. Erb spent his first three seasons at Nevada as the special teams coordinator and running backs coach, leading two of the program’s most successful position groups. Erb was then promoted to assistant head coach and wide receivers coach following the 2015 campaign.
Erb’s third season at Nevada was perhaps his best in Reno, as he coached the top tandem at running back in the nation and arguably the best special teams unites in the Mountain West. Erb’s work helped Nevada post a 7-6 record with a victory in the 2015 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, which marked Nevada’s fifth all-time bowl win.
Sophomore James Butler and senior Don Jackson each eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in 2015, becoming only the third duo at running back to each rush for 1,000 yards in the same season in program history. Nevada was the only team in the nation with two 1,000-yard running backs in the 2015 regular season. Nevada averaged 210 rushing yards per game, which ranked in the top 25 in the FBS. Nevada eclipsed 200 yards rushing in eight games and was 7-1 when doing so. Butler went on to earn All-Mountain West honorable mention honors.
The Wolf Pack also excelled on special teams in 2015 behind Erb’s assistance. Junior PK Brent Zuzo made 17-of-19 field goal attempts, ranking fourth in the nation in FG percentage while earning second team All-MW honors. Junior P Alex Boy also improved his career average to 43.1 yards per punt, which ranks second in program history. Additionally, junior CB Elijah Mitchell ranked third in the league with a 26.44 kickoff return average.
Erb’s second season at Nevada was also highly successful as the Wolf Pack’s running backs and special team play was among the best in the Mountain West. Erb’s backs helped Nevada average over 200 rushing yards per game for the seventh time in the past nine seasons, while his special teams ranked in the top four in the Mountain West in punt return, kickoff return, punting and field goals.
Erb coached one of the best one-two punches at running back in the league last season. Jackson ran 216 times for 957 yards and seven scores, while freshman Butler – who Erb recruited to Nevada out of Chicago despite numerous FBS offers – ran 140 times for 635 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie season. Jackson and Butler helped Nevada rank fifth in the MW in rushing offense while the Pack only lost five fumbles all season, ranking 10th in the nation.
In his first season at Nevada, Erb’s special teams experience made an immediate impact on the program in 2014. The Pack’s special teams coverage ranked in the top half of Division I, while Boy and Zuzo enjoyed successful seasons in their rookie campaigns. Boy was named to the All-MW second team after leading the league and ranking 11th in the nation with 44.3 yards per punt. Meanwhile, Zuzo made 14-of-18 field goals and went 43-of-45 on PATs.
Erb spent the last 13 seasons at Iowa, including the last five years as the running backs coach, prior to his arrival at Nevada. He also worked eight seasons as the wide receivers coach and coached special teams throughout his tenure in Iowa City. While with the Hawkeyes, Erb mentored Shonn Greene, who won the 2008 Doak Walker Award as the top running back in the nation and who currently plays for the Tennessee Titans.
Overall while at Iowa, Erb and the Hawkeyes went to 11 bowl games, including six January bowl games during his tenure. They won a share of two Big Ten Championships and finished in the final top 10 of both major polls four times.
In his first season working with the Iowa running backs in 2008, Erb coached Greene to the Doak Walker Award and consensus All-American honors while being named the Offensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten Conference. He rushed for 1,850 yards to set an Iowa single-season rushing mark and was the only running back in the nation to surpass 100 yards in every game during the season.
In 2009, Iowa's two freshmen running backs combined to rush for 1,475 yards and 13 touchdowns as Iowa posted an 11-2 overall record, placing second in the Big Ten and winning the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl.
Erb was also an integral part of special teams in Iowa City as the Hawkeyes led the Big Ten and ranked 25th in the nation in net punting in 2011. The Hawkeyes ranked third in the Big Ten in net punting in 2010 after ranking fourth in 2009, third in 2008 and second in 2007. Iowa allowed just 4.6 yards on punt returns to rank ninth in the nation in 2011. In 2010, Iowa ranked sixth in the nation in punt coverage (3.9) and 12th in kickoff returns (25.3). Senior punter Ryan Donahue was a finalist for the Ray Guy Punter of the Year award in 2010.
Erb coached kicker Nate Kaeding to first team All-America honors in both 2002 and 2003. Kaeding was named winner of the 2002 Lou Groza Placekicker of the Year award and was one of three finalists for the award in 2003.
A coach at the college and NFL levels for more than 20 years overall, Erb's career began in 1991 when he started a three-year tenure at Hobart College coaching wide receivers. He then moved on to three seasons at Syracuse, where he assisted with the offensive line and scout team preparation while earning a master's degree.
In 1997, Erb went to the NFL where he spend the first of two seasons working with the Baltimore Ravens. While there, he worked alongside Kirk Ferentz, who would later bring Erb to Iowa. Erb coached tight ends at Army in 1999 before moving on to Iowa.
Erb was a standout receiver at Bucknell University, where he set records for touchdown receptions in a season and career. He set a school record for average yards per catch in a single game when he averaged 33.7 yards on six catches vs. Fordham. His 902 receiving yards in 1989 ranks second best all-time at Bucknell. He ranks fifth in career all-purpose yards (3,286) and was Bucknell's Most Valuable Player as a senior in 1990.
He earned his B.A. in business administration from Bucknell and his M.A. in high educational administration from Syracuse.
He and his wife, Eileen, have four children, sons Jacob and A.J., and daughters Emily and Sarah. .
The File on Lester Erb
Born: April 22, 1969
Hometown: Milton, Penn.
Family: Wife - Eileen, Daughters - Emily and Sarah, Sons - Jacob and A.J.
Education: Bachelor's, Business Administration, Bucknell, 1991. Master's, High Educational Administration, Syracuse, 1996.
2013-Current: Running Backs/Special Teams, Nevada
2008-12: Running Backs/Special Teams, Iowa
2000-07: Wide Receivers/Special Teams, Iowa
1999: Tight Ends, Army
1997-98: Assistant Coach, Baltimore Ravens
1994-96: Assistant Coach, Syracuse
1991-93: Wide Receivers, Hobart College
Bucknell: Enjoyed a record-breaking career as a wide receiver and was the team MVP in 1990.