Dennis Springer is entering his fourth year as Northwestern's wide receivers coach after joining the program on Jan. 31, 2011. He came to NU after spending the previous three seasons at Indiana University, serving as the assistant head coach and running backs coach, as well as the Hoosiers' co-special teams coordinator.
In his first season in Evanston, Springer oversaw the continued growth of Jeremy Ebert into one of the most prolific wide receivers in the Big Ten. Ebert's 1,025 receiving yards in 2011 represent the first 1,000-yard season by a Wildcat pass-catcher since D'Wayne Bates in 1998 and the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. Ebert, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media who later was drafted by the New England Patriots, ranked second in the league with 11 touchdown catches and third with 5.9 catches per game.
Additionally, Springer mentored true freshman Christian Jones during his rise to the position of starting 'Z' wideout and helped Kain Colter thrive in his newfound receiver role. Veteran Demetrius Fields came on down the stretch, catching a touchdown pass in three straight games to end the season and totaling a career-best 309 receiving yards for the year.
In all, Springer's wideouts contributed to the Wildcats leading the Big Ten in passing average with 256.6 yards per game.
In 2012, Springer developed a deep corps of receivers that was equally as committed to run-blocking on the perimeter as it was to making its presence known through the air. At season's end, Christian Jones emerged as the team leader in receptions (35) and receiving yards (412), while Tony Jones made a successful return from a leg injury that kept him out of the 2011 season to haul in four TD catches.
Those two Jones (no relation) were again hard to keep up with in 2013, combining for more than 100 receptions and nearly 1,300 yards receiving. Christian Jones completed the year with a monster game vs. rival Illinois, grabbing 13 passes for 182 yards and two highlight reel TDs. Senior Rashad Lawrence also completed his Wildcat tenure with 31 grabs for 463 yards on the year, including a career-high 149 against No. 4/3 Ohio State.
Springer's best rushing season in Bloomington came in 2008 when Indiana finished sixth in the Big Ten with 2,003 yards on the ground and 19 touchdowns. The Hoosiers averaged 4.5 yards per carry for the year, posting their best rushing season since 2001.
On special teams, Indiana ranked third in the Big Ten in 2010 in kickoff returns, averaging 23.1 yards after racking up 1,476 yards on 64 returns. Tandon Doss led the Hoosiers with 1,016 yards on 41 returns (24.8 yard average).
Prior to his stint at Indiana, Springer spent one season as the defensive secondary coach at Western Kentucky University as the Hilltoppers made the transition from the Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
Springer's coaching career has its roots in the Mid-American Conference as he spent four seasons at Bowling Green State University prior to joining the staff at WKU. Springer was in charge of the running backs from 2003 to 2005 before making the transition to the defensive side of the ball, taking responsibility of the safeties for the 2006 season. He helped guide the Falcons to the 2003 MAC West Division title and a 28-24 victory over Northwestern in the Motor City Bowl. BGSU also won the 2004 GMAC Bowl, defeating Memphis 52-35, and captured the 2005 MAC East Division championship.
While at Bowling Green, Springer worked with Northwestern's current offensive coordinator, Mick McCall.
Springer's lengthiest tenure came at Ball State University where he spent 10 seasons with the Cardinals in a handful of capacities. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the 1993 and 1994 seasons before being promoted to wide receivers coach in 1995. Springer filled that role until the 1999 season when he resumed responsibility of the outside linebackers, a position he held for two years before being named the defensive secondary coach for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Ball State made a pair of appearances in the Las Vegas Bowl (1993, 1996) during that time.
A Fort Wayne, Ind., native, Springer earned his bachelor of science in secondary education from Butler University in 1993 after helping the Bulldogs to three Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference championships. Springer also served as a team captain of the 1991 team.
Springer and his wife, Nicole, have two daughters, Sophia and Sydney.