Coach Prince Hires Matt Wallerstedt

Matt Wallerstedt is coming home; returning to Manhattan to live a dream. The Manhattan Mercury has learned that Wallerstedt has been hired by newly named Kansas State football coach Ron Prince to be the Wildcats' linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator.

Wallerstedt, a 1984 graduate of Manhattan High School, will be making the move from Akron where he has served as associate head coach, and coach of the linebackers.

"I told coach (Bill) Snyder a couple years ago that Kansas State was a dream job for me," said Wallerstedt. "For me, I felt it was the best job in the country. I always wanted to come back and coach at my alma mater.

"When I was talking with coach Prince about this job, I told him, 'Once you bleed purple, you always bleed purple,' " Wallerstedt said. "I wear the purple and I wear it with pride."

The Zips play Memphis in the Motor City Bowl Monday with Wallerstedt not joining to the K-State program until after that game. It's the first bowl game that Akron has ever played in.

Akron finished the 2005 season with a 7-5 record and in a three-way tie for first place in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference.

The Zips' defense allowed 23.3 points and 325.2 yards per game, to rank third and second, respectively, in the Mid-American Conference.

Wallerstedt, 39, played for Kansas State in 1983 through 1987, leading the team in tackles in his junior and senior seasons. His 165 arrests in 1987 ranks fifth high for a single season in Wildcat history.

His 331 total tackles ranks ninth high in KSU history only behind Gary Spani, Brooks Barta, Mark Simoneau, Josh Buhl, Theopolis Bryant, Danny Lankas, Dan Ruzich and Carl Pennington.

"When I was there it was a tough situation," said Wallerstedt, who played two years under coach Jim Dickey and two under Stan Parrish. "But I think going through those times have made me a better coach. I know this, it's been fun to watch them grow as a program under coach Snyder."

Wallerstedt, who played in just six winning games in his four Wildcat seasons, was a student assistant with the Wildcats in 1988, and then two years at Arizona State as a graduate assistant in 1989 and 1990.

The former Indian then had stops at Fort Hays State, Emporia State and six seasons at Wyoming — three each under Dana Dimel and three under Vic Koening as defensive coordinator.

He then traveled to North Alabama and finally the last three seasons at Akron.

At North Alabama, he helped coach the team to a 13-1 record and into the NCAA Division II semifinals. North Alabama went from a team allowing nearly 34 points and 392 yards per game, to one that allowed 14.1 points and 296 yards per game in his one year with the program.

"My philosophy on defense is to be aggressive ... to play with an all-out determination," Wallerstedt said. "You have to trust one another and play 11 as one regardless of the scheme. We want to be a group that will not only eliminate points, but eliminate yards. We will play with emotion and play with excitement."

Wallerstedt was three years ahead of Prince when Manhattan High was playing Junction City. The two first met two years ago when Prince approached Wallerstedt prior to a game at Virginia.

"He just introduced himself and said how he was from Junction City. He said he had followed my career and played against my brother (Brett), and had watched me play at Kansas State," said Wallerstedt, who accepted the position late Saturday night. "The first impression was that he was a first-class individual. Now, I want to roll up my sleeves and go to work for him. I told him I would give him 110 percent to get this thing going again.

"This school has never left my system," Wallerstedt said. "Kansas State has always been in my heart."

Of his conversations with Prince during the interview process, Wallerstedt said, "I was impressed with his straight-forward approach and how he sees the program going. I don't want to say too much about it, but I like his plan of attack and just felt like we were cut out of the same mold. I'm ready to jump on ship and go to war with him."

Wallerstedt is the son of John and Penny Wallerstedt, who recently moved from Manhattan to Atchison. Matt, and his wife Josie, have one 6-year-old son, Cal.

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