March 2, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Jim McElwain, who served as Michigan State's assistant head coach, wide receivers and special teams coach for the last three years, has been named quarterbacks coach for the National Football League's Oakland Raiders, Spartan fourth-year head coach John L. Smith confirmed Thursday, March 2. McElwain becomes the second Spartan assistant to accept a coaching position in the NFL this off-season, joining Doug Nussmeier who was selected quarterbacks coach by the St. Louis Rams last month.
Coach Smith expects the search for McElwain's replacement to be completed in the next two weeks. Michigan State opens spring football practice on Friday, March 24.
"This is a great professional and personal opportunity for Jim McElwain," Smith said. "I'm happy for him and his family.
"You can't blame Jim for leaving to take a coaching position in the National Football League. As a college head coach, all I can do is pat Jim on the back and thank him for his contributions to the MSU football program over the last three years."
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," McElwain said. "Every offensive assistant dreams of having the opportunity to coach quarterbacks at the highest level - in the National Football League. I'm thankful to Coach (Art) Shell for giving me the chance to fulfill this dream. It's truly exciting to be part of the Oakland Raiders organization.
"It certainly wasn't an easy decision to leave Michigan State. I loved working with John L. Smith and the entire coaching staff. The Michigan State community has been very good to me and my family. I'm excited about the future of Spartan football because the coaches and players are on the verge of accomplishing great things. I believe in John L., I believe in the assistants and I believe in the players. I'll be the biggest Spartan fan in the Bay Area."
In 2005, five Spartan receivers had at least 28 receptions, led by Jerramy Scott, who caught 49 passes for 722 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, Scott (ninth with 65.6 yards per game) and Kyle Brown (10th with 60.7 ypg.) both ranked among the Big Ten leaders in receiving yards. In addition, MSU receivers combined for a school-record 24 TD receptions in 2005.
In 2004, five Spartans had at least 20 catches, led by Scott, who more than doubled his pass-catching total from the previous year, finishing with 39 grabs for 444 yards and three TDs.
In 2003, his receiving corps set Spartan single-season records for pass receptions (312) and receiving yards (3,510).
McElwain also had an immediate impact on Spartan special teams. Over the last three seasons, MSU's special teams produced seven touchdowns, including five kickoff returns and two blocked punts that have resulted in scores.
In 2004, All-American Brandon Fields led the NCAA in punting with his 47.9-yard average. Placekicker Dave Rayner led the Big Ten in scoring (105 points), while his 22 field goals ranked fourth in the NCAA and matched his own MSU single-season record. In addition, Marshall Campbell was credited with a Spartan single-season record three blocked punts.
In 2003, the Spartans led the Big Ten in kickoff returns (23.7 avg.) and ranked second in net punting (40.7 avg.) and kickoff coverage (16.3 avg.). All-American DeAndra Cobb led the Big Ten and finished No. 11 nationally in kickoff returns with his 27.2-yard average, including an NCAA-record tying three runbacks for TDs.
The 44-year-old McElwain served as Louisville's wide receiver and special teams coach for three seasons (2000-02). He coached four first-team All-Conference USA selections including wide receiver and punt returner Damien Dorsey (2002), kick returner Broderick Clark (2002), wide receiver Deion Branch (2000-01) and return specialist Zek Parker (2001). McElwain tutored three of the Cardinals' all-time leading receivers, including Arnold Jackson (first with 300 career receptions), Branch (sixth with 143) and Parker (tied for eighth with 128). Jackson also ranks as C-USA's career leader in receptions and receiving yards (3,670).
In 2002, the Cardinals ranked among the C-USA leaders in scoring offense (third at 28.8 points per game), passing offense (third at 226.5 yards), punt returns (third at 13.3 avg.) and kickoff returns (third at 22.0 avg). Louisville's special teams produced six touchdowns in 2002, returning four punts and two kickoffs for scores, and blocked 11 kicks, including nine punts.
McElwain previously served as offensive coordinator at Montana State for five years (1995-99). In addition, he coached the Bobcat quarterbacks and wide receivers.
Under his direction, Montana State's Rob Compson threw for nearly 7,000 career yards and a school-record 54 TDs. He also coached the Bobcats' all-time leading receiver Chip Hobbs, who caught 144 career passes for 2,060 yards and 18 TDs.
In 1998, Montana State led the Big Sky Conference in scoring, averaging 31.6 points per game.
Prior to his appointment at Montana State, McElwain spent 10 years at his alma mater, Eastern Washington (1985-94), where he worked primarily with the quarterbacks and wide receivers. In addition to his coaching duties, he served as assistant athletics director, overseeing the football operating budget, organizing summer camps, coordinating team travel and assisting in fund-raising.
During his tenure at EWU, the Eagles made two NCAA I-AA playoff appearances (1985 and 1992) and earned a share of the Big Sky championship in 1992. McElwain coached EWU's all-time leading receiver Tony Brooks (2,969 career yards), who earned third-team Associated Press All-America honors in 1993. Two of his quarterbacks produced 400-yard passing games, with Todd Bernett throwing for a school-record 486 yards vs. Montana in 1994 and Rob James amassing 448 yards vs. Montana in 1986. In addition, two of his receivers posted 200-yard games, including Jason Anderson (school-record 264 vs. Montana, 1994) and Jamie Buenzli (220 vs. Northern Arizona, 1987).
An all-state quarterback at Missoula (Mont.) Sentinel High School, McElwain played quarterback for Coach Dick Zornes at Eastern Washington (1980-83).
McElwain earned his bachelor's degree in education from Eastern Washington in 1984.
Married to the former Karen Rusher, McElwain and his wife have three children: JoHanna, Elizabeth and Jerret.