Gdowski will retain his position coaching the Aggie quarterbacks.
Former Nebraska player and Western Kentucky assistant coach Kevin Lightner will join the Aggie staff as offensive line coach.
Gdowski, also a former Nebraska football star, has been with Coach Samuel's staff for six seasons.
"I expect him to do a great job," says Samuel. "He has had major input on everything we do and he's worked very close with Coach Cotton over the years."
During his six seasons as quarterback coach, the Aggies have enjoyed great success on offense.
New Mexico State ranked 14th in the nation in rushing offense, 23rd in total offense and 13th in passing efficiency in 2002. Aggie quarterbacks threw only six interceptions all season, the third fewest in the nation.
This past season the Aggies used one of the most effective two-quarterback rotations in the country. Paul Dombrowski broke the school record for most rushing yards in a season by an Aggie quarterback, was named second team all-Sun Belt Conference and was picked as the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year. The Aggies season opening starter at quarterback, Buck Pierce, broke the school record for passing efficiency rating in a single season
The Aggies led the Sun Belt Conference in passing efficiency, rushing offense and total offense in 2002. New Mexico State rushed for 200 yards or more in eight of 12 games while throwing for 200 or more yards four times. The Aggies threw for 335 yards against league champion North Texas and 343 the following week against Idaho in the final two games of the season.
Gdowski has also coached standout Aggie quarterbacks K.C. Enzminger and Ty Houghtaling. Enzminger finished second in career total offense and is the school's all-time leader rusher at the quarterback position. Houghtaling finished fifth in career total offense and his 20 touchdown passes in 1998 is the second best mark in Aggie history.
Coach Gdowski came to New Mexico State in 1997 after serving as offensive coordinator the previous season at South Dakota State. He is a native of Fremont, Nebraska and is a 1990 graduate of the University of Nebraska. He was a former team captain and starting quarterback for the Cornhuskers. While at Nebraska, Gdowski set school records for most touchdowns responsible for in a game (6 vs. Iowa State in 1989), and a season (32 in 1989) and best passing efficiency in a season (1989). He was a first team all-Big Eight Conference pick in 1989.
Lightner served as co-Offensive Coordinator and offensive line coach at Western Kentucky the past two seasons. This year Western Kentucky posted a 12-3 record and won the NCAA I-AA national championship. In his two years at Western, the Hilltoppers posted a combined record of 20-7 and advanced to the I-AA playoffs both seasons. "We've known Kevin for a long time," says Samuel. "He's done a great job wherever he's been and we know and trust him."
Western Kentucky ranked second in country in rushing with 303.18 yards per game in 2001 and finished sixth in 2002 with an average of 252.8 yards per game.
"There are a lot of similarities between the two offenses," says Samuel.
Samuel was an assistant coach to current Western Kentucky head coach Jack Harbaugh at Western Michigan in the early 1980's.
The past two seasons, three Western Kentucky offensive linemen were named first or second team all-conference, with two players earning all-America recognition.
Lightner was an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha for three year prior to his stint at Western Kentucky. His responsibilities included coaching the offensive line, tight ends and special teams at UNO. He helped lead the Mavericks to the North Central Conference championship in both 1998 and 2000 and the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2000. UNO led the nation in rushing his first season, ranked second in 1999 and ninth in 2000.
Prior to his arrival at UNO, Lightner served as an assistant coach at Northern (S.D.) State from 1996-98. He worked with the offensive line and tight ends and also the head baseball coach. He started his coaching career at the high school level, serving as an assistant at Hastings High School in Hastings, Nebraska and Northeast High School in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Lightner is a 1987 graduate of Nebraska, earning a degree in secondary education. He earned first-team all-Big Eight honors as an offensive tackle in 1987 and participated in the 1988 Hula Bowl. He played professionally in three leagues before entering the coaching ranks - the NFL (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1988), the CFL (Hamilton Tiger Cats, 1990) and the World League of American Football (Montreal Machine, 1991-92).