Rams Announce Staff Changes

Fort Collins - Colorado State University football coach Sonny Lubick today announced that former assistant coach Tom Ehlers has become the school's first-ever director of football operations and Karl Ballard has joined the staff as the team's new defensive tackles coach.

Ehlers has spent the past 16 years as an assistant coach with the program and played at CSU in the 1980's, while Ballard formerly was an all-star linebacker at Colorado State in the mid 1990's, and most recently an assistant coach at South Dakota State University.

"We have been fortunate to establish a new position for the director of football operations. It seemed like a natural fit for someone line Tom, with all of his experience as an assistant coach at CSU, and having played here. It is going to be a tremendous asset for our program to have Tom in this position."

Ehlers joined the staff in 1989 as an assistant coach, and played a key role in seven of the eight bowl teams in school history, as well as six conference championships.

"When we discussed as a staff what our expectations would be for this position, it was very clear that Tom had all of the qualities we were looking for as the director of operations. He has knowledge of our program, the athletic department and the campus, and has worked closely with former players who are involved in our program. I really think this is an exciting opportunity for Tom, and I also think it will be a tremendous asset for the football program."

Ehlers came to Colorado State in 1981, and was a four-year starter and letterwinner for the Rams' football program. He played defensive line and later offensive center for the Rams. In 1984 and '85, he was a conference Scholar-Athlete award winner, and three times was named to the conference All-Academic team. He earned his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Colorado State in 1985, and a year later earned a master's degree in that same concentration at Oregon State University.

Following the completion of his playing career, Ehlers served from 1985-87 as a graduate assistant coach at Oregon State, then spent one season as a graduate assistant coach, 1987, at the University of Arizona. He then was the defensive line coach at Brown University from 1987-88, before returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach in 1989.

During his coaching career he coached some of the most prominent defensive linemen in CSU history, including Joey Porter, currently a Pro Bowl performer for the Pittsburgh Steelers who holds the school record for most quarterback sacks in a season; Clark Haggan, an all-star defensive end for the Rams who also plays for the Steelers; Adrian Ross, who played several seasons in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Steelers; Brady Smith, the conference defensive player of the year in 1995 who has played a decade in the NFL formerly for the New Orleans Saints and currently for the Atlanta Falcons; and Sean Moran, who played nine years in the NFL with Buffalo, San Francisco, and St. Louis and was last fall inducted into CSU's sports hall of fame. Moran and Smith were both two-time first-team all-conference performers in 1994 and '95 at CSU in leading the Rams to back-to-back conference titles and Holiday Bowl berths. The 1994 team finished 10-2 and became the first team in CSU history to be ranked in the top 10 during the season, and the first team to be ranked in the final top 25.

Like Ehlers, Ballard played and coached at Colorado State, and now returns to his alma mater.

"Karl is an exceptional football coach," said Lubick. "He has worked very hard to move up the coaching ladder. He brings a great deal of enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge to our staff.

"He has been a very successful coach who has the ability to help make our program better. Karl knows what has made our program successful because he played here in our system and was a graduate assistant coach. During his four years at South Dakota State, he earned the reputation for his hard work, his knowledge of the game, and his ability to recruit and coach student-athletes."

Ballard is a former walk-on football player at Colorado State, who helped the Rams to a pair of conference titles in 1994 and '95, and two ensuing Holiday Bowl berths. In 1995, he was a first-team all-conference linebacker and was named the team's most valuable player. That same season, he was named the winner of the Admiral's Award, presented by Holiday Bowl officials to an individual for contributions above and beyond the normal duties toward the success of the football program.

"Karl earned his playing time the hard way," said Lubick. "He was a walk-on who transferred to CSU from Iona College, and drove his car across the country to join our program without any guarantees. When he got his opportunity, he made the most of it and was really a team leader who made us successful."

Once Ballard concluded his playing career at CSU, he played professional football, first for the St. Louis Stampede of the Arena Football League in 1996, then the 1997-98 seasons for the London Monarchs of NFL-Europe. He concluded his professional career in 1999 playing for the Hamburg Blue Devils.

He then returned to Colorado State as a graduate assistant coach from 2000-01 as part of a program that won the Mountain West Conference title his first year and played in the Liberty Bowl against Southern Mississippi. The following season the Rams defeated North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl.

In 2001, he was named an assistant coach at South Dakota State, coordinating the special teams and coaching the linebackers. A year later, he was named the defensive coordinator at SDSU. Prior to the 2004 season, besides being the team's defensive coordinator, Ballard assumed the title of assistant head coach under SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier.

Ballard earned a bachelor's degree in Social Science with a minor in history at CSU in 1996.

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