Steve Russ Departs for New Role at Air Force Academy
Feb. 14, 2012
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Steve Russ is departing the Wake Forest football program for a new role at his alma mater. A 1995 Air Force graduate, Russ will join Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun's staff as assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator.
Russ spent the 2011 season as the Demon Deacons' secondary coach, helping freshman cornerback Bud Noel earn ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and senior safety Josh Bush to Associated Press All-America third team honors. Prior to coaching the secondary, Russ spent 2010 working with the Wake Forest linebackers after tutoring the tight ends and fullbacks during his first two seasons on staff.
Russ also coached at Syracuse for three seasons (2005-07) and spent four seasons as an assistant at Ohio (2001-04). He began his coaching career at Air Force as a graduate assistant strength coach in 1995.
While playing at Air Force, Russ earned second team All-WAC honors in 1994 and was selected to play in both the Blue-Gray All-Star game and the East-West Shrine game following his senior season. Russ received the Air Force's Brian Bullard Award in 1994, which is the program's highest honor, and was a seventh round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in the 1995 NFL Draft. He is one of just seven players in Air Force history to be drafted in the NFL.
Following two years of active service in the military, Russ joined the Broncos and spent four seasons with the team and was a part of Denver's 1997 and 1998 Super Bowl Championship teams under the direction of head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.
He began his full-time coaching career in 2001, joining the staff at Ohio University as the outside linebackers coach under head coach Brian Knorr. Russ became the inside linebackers coach in 2001 and added the responsibility of coordinating special teams in 2004.
While with the Bobcats, Russ coached linebacker Matt Muncy who would go on to earn All-Mid-American Conference honors as a senior. The Bobcat defense ranked 22nd in the nation in total defense in 2004 and led the Mid-American Conference in net punting, kickoff coverage and pass defense.
Russ became the linebackers coach at Syracuse in 2005. That year, the Orange led the Big East in net punting and the squad did it again in 2006. Syracuse also tied for 22nd in the nation in turnovers forced during the 2006 season. Russ became the defensive coordinator prior to the 2007 season.
While at Wake Forest, Russ worked with fullback Mike Rinfrette and true freshman Tommy Bohanon. Rinfrette earned a postseason invitation to the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game and participated in the Green Bay Packers' rookie minicamp, while Bohanon became the first freshman to earn a start at fullback in over nine years.
In 2008, Russ successfully coached a group of tight ends who made their mark throughout the season. Starter Ben Wooster earned Academic All-ACC honors and Academic All-District III accolades. Russ also was able to bring along a true freshman in Andrew Parker, who became a valuable tight end and earned a handful of starts. Russ also tutored fullbacks Rich Belton and Rinfrette who were two of the constants in Wake's backfield that saw several injuries to its starting tailbacks.
The punt coverage team, which Russ coordinated, led the nation in punt return defense, allowing just nine yards all season in 2008.
A native of Stetsonville, Wisc., Russ is a 1995 graduate of the Air Force Academy with a degree in management. He and his wife, Betsy, are the parents of a daughter, Mackenzie, and a son, Tyler.