In 2017, Minnesota's special teams found success under Wenger. Rodney Smith averaged 25.9 yards per kick return and had a 100-yard return for a touchdown. Ryan Santoso punted 66 times and averaged 43.0 yards per punt, which was a 2.1 yard increase from his 2016 season. Santoso's average was the sixth-best mark in school history for a single season and he ended his career with an average of 41.8 yards, which placed him fifth all-time at Minnesota. The Gophers did not give up a blocked punt, field goal or extra punt in 2017, but did block a field goal (Antoine Winfield Jr.) and extra point (Andrew Stelter) under the guidance of Wenger.
Wenger came to Minnesota from Western Michigan where he worked since 2013. Wenger joined the Western Michigan staff as a graduate assistant in 2013, but was quickly promoted to special teams coordinator. He also worked with the defensive backs.
In 2016, he coached Darius Phillips who was named MAC Special Teams Player of the Year. Phillips returned a kickoff and punt for a touchdown in 2016, a feat he has accomplished in three straight seasons. Wenger used two punters in 2016 in James Coleman and Derrick Mitchell, but the duo combined to average 40.68 yards on only 44 punts. His kicker Butch Hampton made 19-of-24 field goals, which included a season-long 47 yarder. Hampton, who was a Freshman All-American, totaled 128 points (19 FGs and 71 PATs) to set the all-time, single-season points record in the MAC.
In 2015, Wenger saw two of his players recognized by the MAC for their breakout seasons, as Phillips earned second-team honors as a kick returner and Andrew Haldeman was named third-team as a place kicker. Phillips made national headlines the first week of the season when he returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown against No. 5 Michigan State. Haldeman broke the Western Michigan career scoring record with 337 points and for field goals made with 57. In the MAC, Haldeman placed sixth all-time in points scored and tenth in field goals made.
In 2014, the Broncos saw significant improvements in their special teams. Punter J. Schroeder was named All-MAC Third Team, while Phillips was named a Sporting News Freshman All-American and led the conference in kick return yards and average at 26.1.
Wenger played linebacker and fullback at Colgate from 2004-06. He graduated from Colgate in 2008 and then spent two seasons at Rutgers. He was as an operations assistant in 2008 and worked in player development during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. From 2010-12, Wenger coached at his high school alma mater St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as well as Allegheny College, working primarily with defensive players.
In 2009-10, Wenger was an assistant coach at St. Thomas Aquinas. In 2010-11, he served in the same capacity at Allegheny in Meadville, Pa. In 2011-12, he was elevated to defensive coordinator at St. Thomas Aquinas and then was elevated to the same position, as well as recruiting coordinator, in 2012 at Allegheny.
Wenger earned his master’s in education with a specialization in athletic administration from Nova Southeastern University in August of 2010.
Wenger and his wife Jacqui were married in July 2016 and have one daughter, Skyler.
WENGER AT A GLANCE
2018-present: Minnesota - Special Teams Coordinator / Outside Linebackers
2017: Minnesota - Special Teams Coordinator
2013-17: Western Michigan - Special Teams Coordinator (also coached defensive ends in 2014)
2013: Western Michigan - Graduate Assistant
2012: Allegheny - Defensive Coordinator / Recruiting Coordinator
2010-11: Allegheny College - Assistant Coach
2011-12: St. Thomas Aquinas H.S., - Defensive Coordinator
2009-10: St. Thomas Aquinas H.S., - Assistant Coach
2008-09: Rutgers - Player Development
2008: Rutgers - Operations Assistant
Playing Experience: Colgate University (linebacker and fullback), 2004-06
Birthday: Feb. 21, 1986
Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
High School: St. Thomas Aquinas, 2004
Alma Mater: Colgate University, 2008 (sociology and anthropology); Nova Southeastern University, 2010 (education)
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