Michigan State football signs 20 on National Signing Day
Co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Mike Tressel and quarterbacks coach Brad Salem spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon.
Quarterbacks coach Brad Salem and defensive ends/special teams coach Mark Snyder spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon.
Defensive ends/special teams coach Mark Snyder and quarterbacks coach Brad Salem spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon.
Position-by-position breakdown of the Spartans entering preseason camp.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio likes his team's resilience. Now it's time to develop a knockout punch. Connor Cook threw three touchdown passes and Nick Hill ran for two scores Saturday, but No. 8 Michigan State still needed a late interception return for a touchdown to hold on 45-31 at Purdue
Salem spent six seasons (2011-16) as the program’s recruiting coordinator, helping bring in nationally ranked recruiting classes while also coaching some of the top players in the Big Ten at their position who have now gone on to play in the NFL.
In his role as recruiting coordinator, Salem helped put together four consecutive Top 25 classes (2014: No. 19 Scout; No. 22 Rivals; 2015: No. 18 Scout; No. 22 Rivals; 2016: No. 18 Scout, No. 20 Rivals; 2017: No. 22 Scout).
Salem has been either an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach for 12 seasons as a college assistant. He spent his first three seasons at Michigan State (2010-12) coaching the running backs.
Salem continued his successful track record for developing quarterbacks last season as first-year starter Brian Lewerke set school sophomore records for total offense (3,352 yards), passing yards (2,793), passing attempts (417) and passing completions (246). Lewerke also finished the season with 559 yards rushing on 124 carries, the fourth most by a Spartan quarterback in a single season and the most since Drew Stanton had 687 in 2004. A true dual-threat quarterback, Lewerke became the first quarterback in school history to throw for more than 2,500 yards and rush for more than 500 yards in the same season, and his 3,352 yards of total offense ranked No. 2 in school history in a single season. Under Lewerke’s direction, the Spartans won 10 games, including a victory over No. 18 Washington State in the Holiday Bowl, and finished No. 15 in the final Associated Press Poll.
During the course of his first year as a starter, Lewerke’s passing skills were on full display, as he became just one of three Big Ten quarterbacks in the last 20 years to throw for 400 yards in consecutive games. He set school single-game records for passing yards (445), total offense (475) and completions (39) in the triple-overtime loss at Northwestern on Oct. 28, and followed that effort by completing 33-of-56 passes for 400 yards to defeat No. 7 Penn State the next week on Nov. 4. In MSU’s 42-17 win over No. 18 Washington State in the Holiday Bowl, Lewerke was named the Offensive MVP after finishing with 286 yards of total offense; he was 13-of-21 passing for 213 yards and three touchdowns, and set a Spartan bowl record for most rushing yards by a quarterback (14 carries for 73 yards).
Salem was instrumental to the success of Connor Cook, who won 34 of the 39 games he started to becoming the winningest quarterback in school history, all while climbing up the charts in Michigan State’s record book. Cook became the first Spartan to win the Big Ten Quarterback of the Year Award as a senior in 2015 and was also named recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which has been presented to the nation’s top college quarterback since 1987. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by Oakland and started for the Raiders in their 2017 wild card playoff game.
Cook finished his career as Michigan State’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (71), total offense (9,403 yards) and passing yards (9,194), and he tied records for most 300-yard (10) and 200-yard passing games (26).
As a senior, Cook ranked among the Big Ten leaders in touchdown passes (second with 24), passing (third with 240.8 ypg.), total offense (third with 245.2 ypg.), and passing efficiency (fifth with 136.6 rating). He was named the Big Ten Player of the Week after throwing for a career-high 398 yards, fourth most in school history, and setting a then single-game MSU record with 416 yards of total offense in the Oct. 24 win over Indiana.
Only the fifth Spartan quarterback to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors and the first since 1965, Cook had 24 TDs in 2015, just two away from passing Kirk Cousins (25) for the most in a Spartan single season. Cook established a school record by throwing for more than 300 yards in four consecutive games (367 vs. Rutgers; 328 vs. Michigan; career-high 398 vs. Indiana; 335 vs. Nebraska). He became the first player in Big Ten history to win the Grange-Griffin Big Ten Championship Game Most Valuable Player Award twice (also won in 2013 vs. Ohio State), as he helped lead the Spartans past No. 4 Iowa, 16-13, to claim MSU’s second Big Ten title in three years.
In addition to Cook, MSU showed off its depth at quarterback in the 17-14 win at No. 2 Ohio State on Nov. 21. With Cook sidelined due to a sprained shoulder, the Spartans used a dual-quarterback system featuring junior Tyler O’Connor and sophomore Damion Terry that helped end the defending National Champion Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak.
In 2014, Salem and the offensive coaching staff helped orchestrate the No. 1 offense in school history, as the Spartans set numerous program records, including points (559), scoring average (43.0 ppg.), offensive touchdowns (70), rushing touchdowns (44), total offense (6,510 yards; 500.8 ypg.) and rushing yards (3,057). Cook improved on his numbers from his sophomore season, throwing for a career-best 3,214 yards as a junior while directing the nation's No. 7 scoring offense (43.0 ppg). He led the Big Ten in passing (247.2 ypg.), passing yards and passing yards per completion (15.2), and also ranked among the conference leaders in passing efficiency (second with 149.4 rating), touchdown passes (second with 24) and total offense (third with 253.4 ypg.). In addition, those numbers ranked among the best in the NCAA FBS: second in yards per completion, 19th in passing efficiency and 27th in touchdown passes and passing yards.
Cook, who led MSU's 20-point, fourth-quarter rally over Baylor in the 2015 Cotton Bowl, guided the Spartans to three straight fourth-quarter comebacks in bowl games (2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl, 2015 Cotton Bowl). He is one of just two Spartan quarterbacks, along with Dan Enos, to win two bowl games as the starting quarterback (2014 Rose, 2015 Cotton).
Cook took over the starting role in 2013 against South Florida in Week 2 and proceeded to go 12-1 as the starter and finish his sophomore year ranked among MSU's single-season leaders in passing touchdowns (second with 22), total offense (fourth with 2,831 yards), pass attempts (fourth with 380), passing yards (fifth with 2,755) and pass completions (sixth with 223). His progress was on full display in the final two games of the season. Cook took home Most Outstanding Player honors at the Big Ten Championship Game after completing 24-of-40 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns against No. 2 Ohio State, and followed that effort by being named the Rose Bowl Offensive MVP, as he threw for 332 yards and two scores in the win over No. 5 Stanford. Cook was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches.
Salem mentored one of the most productive running backs in Spartan history, Le'Veon Bell, from 2010-12. Bell had a career year in 2012, winning the Big Ten rushing title and ranking third in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, averaging 137.9 yards per game. Named a first-team All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com, Bell compiled 1,793 rushing yards, the second-highest single-season total in MSU history. Bell was selected in the second round of the 2013 National Football League Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and was named the Steelers Rookie of the Year. In 2014, he led the AFC in rushing (1,361 yards) and set the Pittsburgh single-season record for most yards from scrimmage (2,215) while being selected a first-team All-Pro. Bell earned his third trip to the Pro Bowl in 2017 and was named a first-team All-Pro for the second time in his career after ranking third in the NFL in rushing with 1,291 yards on 321 carries and nine touchdowns.
Salem coached one of the most talented backfields in the Big Ten in 2011, as junior Edwin Baker and Bell combined for 1,613 rushing yards (115.2 yards per game) – the second most of any running back duo in the conference – to go along with 18 rushing touchdowns. After earning Big Ten All-Freshman honors in 2010, Bell had a breakout season as a sophomore, leading the team in rushing touchdowns (13) and rushing (948 yards; 67.7 ypg.); those marks ranked fifth and eighth in the Big Ten, respectively. A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media as a sophomore, Baker led MSU with a season-high 167 yards rushing in the Spartans' fourth straight win over Michigan in 2011. He finished the season with 665 rushing yards (47.5 ypg.) and closed his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in rushing yards (12th with 2,293) and carries (13th with 462). Baker was selected in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and spent three seasons in the NFL (2012-14).
Under Salem's direction in 2010, Michigan State's running backs improved their totals from 2009. The resurgent running game was led by Baker, who became just the sixth sophomore in MSU history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone as he compiled 1,201 rushing yards. A first-team All-Big Ten honoree by the media, Baker ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 30th nationally in rushing, averaging 92.4 ypg. In addition, he led the team and ranked seventh in the conference with 13 rushing TDs.
Baker wasn't only one making noise in the backfield in 2010. Bell exploded onto the scene in the first half of the season, collecting 549 yards and eight rushing touchdowns, including a 141-yard effort in the season opener against Western Michigan, the most rushing yards ever by a Spartan in their collegiate debut. Bell closed his first season with 605 yards rushing and was named to the ESPN.com and Rivals.com All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
Before arriving at Michigan State, Salem compiled a 31-26 record in five seasons (2005-09) as head coach at Augustana College.
Salem led Augustana College to back-to-back 8-4 records and consecutive trips to the Mineral Water Bowl in 2008-09. The eight wins matched the school single-season record. In its first two seasons as members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, Augustana finished fourth and tied for third, respectively, in the final standings and had 10 players earn South Division first-team all-conference honors.
After getting off to a 3-0 start in 2009, the Vikings made their first appearance in the American Football Coaches Association Division II Top 25 since 1989. Augustana finished fifth in the NSIC in total offense that season, averaging 400.9 yards per game. In 2008, Augustana won six of its last eight games, including a 37-16 victory over Missouri Western State in the Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, as the Vikings rushed for 281 yards and five touchdowns against the Griffons. Augustana ranked among the NSIC leaders in rushing offense (third at 203.7 ypg.), scoring offense (third at 30.8 points per game) and total offense (fourth at 379.7 ypg.) in 2008.
In his first season as head coach in 2005, Salem guided Augustana to a 6-5 record – the program's first winning season in three years. Prior to being promoted to head coach, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach under Jim Heinitz, serving as quarterbacks coach in 2003 and offensive coordinator in 2004.
Before returning to his alma mater in 2003, Salem coached the quarterbacks at O'Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, during the 2002 season.
He previously spent three years as passing game and recruiting coordinator at South Dakota (1999-2001) and two seasons as offensive and recruiting coordinator at Luther College (1997-98) in Decorah, Iowa.
In 1996, Salem filled the role of defensive coordinator at Everett High School in Lansing, Michigan. From 1994-95, he served as a graduate assistant under George Perles and Nick Saban at Michigan State, working with the quarterbacks and wide receivers.
A native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Salem launched his coaching career in the European Professional League in Paris, France, where he was the offensive coordinator for Robinson Sphinx in the spring of 1993. That fall, he worked with the defensive backs as a student coach at Augustana.
Salem began his collegiate playing career as a quarterback at Northern Arizona in 1988-89 before transferring to Augustana where he played quarterback and wide receiver for Coach Heinitz from 1990-92.
He earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Augustana in 1992 and his master's degree in athletic administration from Michigan State in 1996.
Salem shares his love of coaching football with his father Joe, former head coach at South Dakota (1966-74), Northern Arizona (1975-78) and Minnesota (1979-83); as well as his older brother Tim, tight ends coach for Pittsburgh; and his twin brother Brent, offensive coordinator at O'Gorman High School.
Salem and his wife Christina have two sons, Elijah and Jeremiah.
THE SALEM FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Ninth. Joined staff on Feb. 19, 2010, from Augustana (S.D.) College.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College - Graduate assistant coach at Michigan State (1994-95); offensive and recruiting coordinator at Luther (Iowa) College (1997-98); passing game and recruiting coordinator at South Dakota (1999-2001); quarterbacks coach at Augustana College (2003); offensive coordinator at Augustana College (2004); head coach at Augustana College (2005-09).
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in mathematics from Augustana College in 1992; master's degree in athletic administration from Michigan State in 1996.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College - Quarterback at Northern Arizona (1988-89); quarterback and wide receiver at Augustana (1990-92).
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Coach - 1995 Independence Bowl, 2008 Mineral Water Bowl, 2009 Mineral Water Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl, 2015 Cotton Bowl, 2015 College Football Playoff (Cotton Bowl), 2017 Holiday Bowl.