Coker Announces Staff Hirings

University of Miami head football coach Larry Coker announced Friday morning the hiring of two new assistant coaches, along with the promotion of another current assistant, to fill vacancies on the Miami football staff.

Coker announced that current Miami assistant Dan Werner, the Hurricanes' quarterbacks coach since 2001, has been promoted to offensive coordinator. He also announced that he has hired former Louisiana State secondary coach Tim Walton as defensive backs coach and former Rutgers offensive line coach Mario Cristobal has been hired to coach the tight ends.

Werner fills the offensive coordinator's spot vacated by Rob Chudzinski, who also coached tight ends and will be replaced by Cristobal. Chudzinski left the Hurricanes staff earlier this month to take the job as tight ends coach for the NFL's Cleveland Browns. Walton takes over the defensive backs job vacated by former UM assistant Mark Stoops, who was hired as the defensive coordinator at the University of Arizona in late November.

"In hiring a coach, I always look for several aspects in the person and all three of these coaches met all of the major things I look for in an assistant coach," Coker said. "The first thing I look for is if they are a good person who has exemplary character, on a personal level, for the good of our players and for the good of our program. I also look for a good recruiter and, finally, if he's a good x's and o's coach. We're fortunate that all three of these men possess all those traits."

Friday's announcement completes the Hurricanes staff for the 2004 season. The departures of Chudzinski and Stoops marked the first time that UM has lost assistant coaches since Coker took over the program prior to the 2001 season. Like Werner, Cristobal and Walton have close ties to Coker. Cristobal is a former UM player who served as an offensive line assistant on the UM coaching staff from 1998-2000 when Coker was UM's offensive coordinator. Walton played under Coker as a defensive back at Ohio State in 1993, when Coker coached the Buckeyes' defensive backs.

Here's a closer look at the three coaches (in alphabetical order):

Mario Cristobal, Tight Ends
The 31-year-old Cristobal is a Miami native and a former UM standout offensive lineman who coached the Rutgers offensive line for the last three years.

"Mario brings another close UM tie to the job, along with good experience as a player and a coach," Coker said. "He was instrumental in Rutgers' improvement over the last couple of years. We're very pleased to have him back as both a recruiter and a coach."

In his first two seasons at Rutgers, he worked with the offensive tackles and tight ends before shifting his focus totally to the offensive line in 2003. Cristobal was a crucial factor in Rutgers' resurgence to respectability as an assistant to head coach Greg Schiano, a former UM assistant coach. During Cristobal's tenure at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights improved from records of 2-9 and 1-11 to a 5-7 mark in 2003, the school's best record since 1998.

Prior to his arrival at Rutgers, Cristobal spent three seasons on the UM coaching staff, where he worked with the Hurricanes' offensive linemen. A 1993 graduate of Miami, he was a four-year letterwinner and member of the Hurricanes' football team from 1988-92. As a senior, Cristobal earned All-BIG EAST honors as an offensive tackle in 1992. He went on to a professional career before joining the coaching ranks. Cristobal was a rookie free agent with the Denver Broncos in 1994, and with NFL Europe's Amsterdam Admirals in 1995 and 1996 before he began his coaching career.

He joined the Miami staff in 1998 as a graduate assistant, working with the Hurricanes for three seasons (1998-2000) as the Miami program posted a 29-8 record, won three bowl games, and a pair of Big East Conference championships.

Tim Walton, Defensive Backs
A native of Grenada, Miss., Walton joins the Miami staff after a successful season as defensive backs coach at LSU, helping lead the Tigers to the 2003 BCS National Championship and the Southeastern Conference title.

"Tim is one of the most highly respected secondary coaches in the nation," Coker said. "He has a great background from his playing days at Ohio State, along with the NFL coaching experience from his time at Chicago and Green Bay, and his college coaching experience from Memphis, Syracuse and with LSU this past season."

Walton's 2003 Tigers defensive backs were a key factor in a defense that ranked among the nation's top three in four of five major defensive statistical categories: total defense (1st, 252.0 yards per game), scoring defensive (1st, 11.0 ppg), pass efficiency defense (2nd, 89.8 rating), and rushing defense (3rd, 67.0 yards per game). Additionally, LSU ranked 18th nationally in passing yardage defense (185.0 ypg). LSU led the SEC in four of the five defensive categories (total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, and scoring defense) and was second in the conference in pass defense. Walton coached cornerback Corey Webster at LSU, who earned First-Team All-SEC honors.

Prior to joining the LSU staff, the 32-year-old Walton was a member of the coaching staff at Syracuse in 2002, coaching the defensive backs for the Orangemen. Walton coached the defensive backs at Memphis in 2000 and 2001. In his first year with Memphis, the Tigers ranked fifth in the nation in total defense, allowing only 275 yards per game. He also coached two First-Team All-Conference USA selections in Idrees Bashir and Michael Stone at Memphis. Bashir was taken as the 37th overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, while Stone was taken later in the second round (54th overall pick) by the Arizona Cardinals. Walton started his coaching career as a defensive graduate assistant at Bowling Green in 1995. He was promoted to running backs coach in 1996 and then moved to coach the defensive backs in 1999.

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Walton has had two summer internships with NFL teams. He spent the summer of 1998 serving as a defensive intern with the Chicago Bears and then spent the summer of 2001 as a defensive intern for the Green Bay Packers.

As a player, Walton was a two-year starter and four-year letterman at Ohio State, serving as co-captain for the Big Ten co-Champions Buckeyes in 1993 while playing under current Miami head coach Larry Coker who was OSU's secondary coach at the time. A 1994 graduate of Ohio State, Walton and his wife Tracy, have three children, Trei, Timia, and Tyler.

Dan Werner, Offensive Coordinator
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Werner just completed his third season as Miami's quarterbacks coach, and he already boasts impressive credentials as one of the foremost developers of college quarterbacks. In his second stint as a UM assistant coach, Werner is a veteran of 21 years in the coaching ranks and has been an integral part of the development of several of Miami's greatest quarterbacks including Gino Torretta, Steve Walsh, Craig Erickson, and Ken Dorsey.

"Dan's been an offensive coordinator in his past coaching life, so it's nothing new for him to lead an offense," Coker said. "He's had opportunities to leave, but he wanted to stay here and be an offensive coordinator. He's a tremendous asset to this program and is well-qualified for this job, having been a part of three of Miami's five national championship teams (1987, 1989 and 2001). I'm looking forward to working with him as my offensive coordinator."

The Miami passing game has continued to flourish under Werner's guidance. In 2001 and 2002, Dorsey posted totals impressive enough to win the 2001 Maxwell Award and placed high in voting for the Heisman Trophy both years. The last three seasons, Hurricanes quarterbacks have thrown for more than 9,100 yards and 72 touchdowns with only 34 interceptions, giving balance to an offensive philosophy predicated on equality between the run and the pass.

Prior to the 2001 season, Werner returned to Miami after spending 2000 as offensive coordinator at Murray State. The 45-year-old Werner built the MSU offense into one of the most potent on the NCAA Division I-AA level as the team ranked 11th nationally in total offense, averaging 452 yards per game, and 13th nationally in passing yardage averaging 276 yards per game. Werner was an assistant at Auburn during the 1999 season where he was offensive consultant to head coach Tommy Tuberville. Before the job at Auburn, Werner was an assistant coach at James Madison for four seasons from 1995-98. He began his tenure at JMU as assistant head coach/quarterback coach/passing game coordinator in 1995. In 1997 he was promoted to offensive coordinator/assistant head coach. From 1991-94, Werner coached at Louisiana Tech where he was an assistant coach in charge of running backs and inside receivers. In 1993 he was promoted to offensive coordinator/quarterback coach.

In the spring of 1990, Werner joined the coaching staff at Nevada-Las Vegas. At UNLV, Werner was an assistant coach in charge of quarterbacks. In the fall of 1990, Werner left the college game for one season to serve as offensive line coach at Miami's Southridge High School. Werner was a graduate assistant at Miami during the 1987-88 seasons, working with UM quarterbacks Steve Walsh, Craig Erickson and Gino Torretta during an era in which the Hurricanes went 23-1 and won the 1987 national championship. In 1989, he was a volunteer assistant coach working with the wide receivers on another Miami national championship team.

Werner began his college coaching career in 1986 as an assistant coach at Cornell University. Prior to going to Cornell, Werner coached five seasons on the high school level. He began his coaching career as a college student, offering his services to local schools around Western Michigan University: Dowogiac Junior High, Portage Central High School and Kalamazoo Christian High School. His first full-time job came in 1983 at Tarpon Springs High School as a junior varsity defensive coordinator. In 1984-85 Werner was the offensive coordinator at Countryside High School in Clearwater.

Werner graduated from Western Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education in 1983. Werner and his wife, Kim, have one daughter, Maya.

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