Pass Game Coordinator / Recruiting Coordinator / Receivers Coach
Brad Pole, a veteran coach with more than three decades of experience, is in his second season at Drake University. At Drake, he serves as the Bulldogs’ passing game coordinator and the team’s recruiting coordinator.
Prior to coming to Drake, Pole served as the offensive coordinator at Morningside College in 2012-13. There, he helped guide the Mustangs to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the NAIA national championship game. Prior to that, he served as the head coach at Dakota Wesleyan from 2005-2011 and was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2008.
“He brings so much experience to our staff,” said Drake head coach Rick Fox of Pole’s background. “I didn’t dream that we had the potential to attract a coach with that experience when I started to look at filling this position. He has experience as a coordinator, head coach and has coached multiple positions on both sides of the ball.”
Pole also gained head coaching experience at Luther College from 1996-2001 and has served as recruiting coordinator for three different programs. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rocky Mountain college and a graduate degree from the University of Minnesota and began his coaching career at Bethel College. He has also served on staffs at the University of Sioux Falls, Augustana, Moorhead State and Concordia. Throughout his career, he has helped coach programs to four playoff appearances and seven conference titles.
Todd Stepsis is in his second season at Drake and serves as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator.
He was named to head coach Rick Fox’s staff at Drake following six seasons in the same role at Division II power Saginaw Valley State. There, he helped coach the Cardinals to a 44-23 record, three-consecutive GLIAC North Division titles and three NCAA playoff berths.
“The culture at Drake is what attracted me most, I’ve never seen a morale like there is at Drake,” Stepsis said. “I’m looking forward to working with our intrinsically motivated student-athletes. They want to win and compete. To me, that’s exciting.”
At Saginaw Valley, he coached 37 defensive all-conference performers, including the conference’s all-time leading tackler and three standouts that went on to NFL and CFL careers. One of those former student-athletes, Jeff Heath, is the starting safety for the Dallas Cowboys, while another, Matt Black, is a cornerback for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
“He has an incredible knowledge of the game and from what I can see he relates very well with the players,” Fox said of his defensive coordinator.
Prior to joining the SVSU staff, he was an assistant at Capital University for eight seasons during which the program amassed a 57-20 record and earned three straight NCAA Division III playoff berths from 2005-07. The team advanced to the quarterfinals in 2005 and 2006. He began his coaching career at Otterbein where he coached the top ranked pass defense in the conference and helped the program to its first winning season in nearly two decades.
He graduated with magna cum laude honors from Ashland University in 1999 with a degree in special education and also received a master’s degree from Ashland in sport education. He and his wife, Angie, have one daughter, Addison. He is also father to a son, Zander, and daughter, Zoe.
Special Teams Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach
Willie Cashmore, a former Drake University football standout, is in his second season as an assistant coach at his alma mater and will oversee the Bulldogs’ defensive line after serving as the team’s tight ends coach in 2013.
Cashmore helped guide seniors Matt Acree and Brett Park to first-team All-PFL honors and sophomore Mack Marrin as PFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and honorable mention honors.
In his first season at Drake, he helped coach Eric Saubert to first-team All-PFL honors with 549 yards on 47 catches with two touchdowns. During that season, the Bulldogs’ tight ends accounted for 40 percent of the team’s receiving yardage and 47 percent of the team’s catches.
Prior to returning to his alma mater, Cashmore spent four seasons as an assistant at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In those four seasons, he helped transform the Reivers from a first-year program in 2009 to an NJCAA National Championship in 2012.
During the national championship season, Cashmore coached the team’s defensive backs and special teams as the team recorded a sterling 12-0 record en route to the title with 10 Reivers earning All-America honors. During his first three seasons at IWCC, he coached the team’s running backs and also oversaw the program’s special teams in 2010 and 2011.
As a student-athlete, Cashmore lettered four seasons at Drake (2003, 05, 06, 07) and received a bachelor’s degree in math education in 2007. On the field, he set program records and led the Pioneer Football League in scoring with 108 points in 2006 and tied the single-game scoring record with 30 points in a contest at Jacksonville. He also ranked ninth nationally in the FCS in scoring that season while earning All-PFL honors.
Following his graduation, Cashmore spent a year in China teaching English through Drake’s Teach in China Program before joining the staff at IWCC.
Cashmore, who came to Drake as a student-athlete from St. Pius X High School in Kansas City, Mo., recently married the former Kara Engebrecht, a fellow Drake graduate and volleyball student-athlete. His brother, Pat, was also a member of the Bullddogs’ football program who led the team in rushing in 2011.
Linebackers Coach / Quality Control
Allen Smith is in his second season at Drake after spending six seasons at St. Scholastica where he was the defensive coordinator his last two seasons. At Drake, he will oversee the team’s linebackers and coordinate quality control for the program.
In his first season at Drake, he helped coach senior John Hugunin and junior Taylor Coleman to All-PFL honors as both finished the 2014 season in the top-10 in the league in tackles.
In his two seasons guiding St. Scholastica’s defense, the Saints boasted the top defense in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference while winning a pair of conference titles with two NCAA Division III playoff appearances.
“They started their program six years ago at St. Scholastica and have become conference champions and playoff contenders,” Fox said of Allen’s pedigree, “He is a really bright and up-and-coming football coach that we’re excited to have with us.”
Allen began his career at St. Scholastica in 2008, the program’s first season, as the team’s defensive backs coach. Three years later his work resulted in an undefeated season and conference title for the fledgling program.
He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wingate University where he was a two-time team captain, all-conference selection and the team’s leader in tackles.
Allen and his wife, Amber, reside in West Des Moines. He has one son, Allen, Jr.
Offensive Line / Video Coordinator
Steve Flynn is in his first season as a coach at his alma mater and will oversee the offensive line and also will work with the interior wide receivers.
Flynn returned to Des Moines after spending the past two seasons at Wabash College as the tight ends coach and assistant offensive line coach. He coached five all-conference honorees in two years and helped guide the Little Giants advance to the second-round of the 2014 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs.
Prior to his two-year stint at Wabash, Flynn came back to Drake for the spring of 2013 as assistant offensive line coach and assisted with the strength and conditioning program. He spent the 2012 season as an intern at Montana State University with former Drake head coach Rob Ash. He worked with the offensive line daily practices and assisted with on-camp recruiting visits.
As a student-athlete, Flynn was a three-year starter on the offensive line, earning Pioneer Football League All-Conference honors in 2010 and 2011. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in Dec. 2011.
Running Backs Coach
Bill Charles is in his seventh year as running backs coach at Drake and his 33rd overall season with the Drake program.
Charles began coaching at Drake under coach Chuck Shelton when the program was Division I-A from 1980-85, including the famed Bulldogs team which went 10-1 in 1981. Charles was honored by the Missouri Valley Conference as Assistant Coach of the Year. Before his arrival, he was head coach at Des Moines East High School where he received Metropolitan Coach of the Year honors four times.
After coaching at Drake, under Nick Quartaro in 1987-88, Charles became head coach and athletic director at Westmar University from 1989-92, guiding three nationally ranked teams. He led the Eagles to an 8-2 mark in 1990 and a final No. 13 ranking in the NAIA Division II poll. For his efforts, he was honored as the NAIA District 15 Coach of the Year.
The 1962 graduate of Iowa State returned to Drake in 1992 and coached with Rob Ash for 15 seasons. He also coached running backs at Drake in 2007 under then head coach Steve Loney. Charles also was head coach of two Arena Football League teams.
Charles and his wife Shirley have six children, Susan, Sally, Toby, Jeff, Jill and JoDee. They also have 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Former Drake standout Jeff Martin is in his 20th year as an aide with the 2015 season marking his ninth season as receivers coach after previously tutoring the quarterbacks.
A native of Des Moines, Martin graduated from Drake in 1977 as owner of five school records, including career pass completions (370) and total offensive plays (982).
Martin set a Missouri Valley Conference record for the longest pass completion in league history of 98 yards against New Mexico State in 1976. He earned his master’s degree from Northeast Missouri State in 1981 and served as an assistant coach at Drake under Chuck Shelton from 1982-85.
Jeff and his wife, Deb, have a son, Matt, and a daughter, Jenny, along with grandsons Will Flug and Cameron Flug.
George Sypniewski is in the fifth year of his second stint with the Drake football program in 2015, having rejoined the Drake staff in August 2010 to work with the defensive line.
In 2014, Sygniewski helped coach seniors Matt Acree and Brett Park to first-team All-PFL honors and sophomore Mack Marrin to honorable mention honors.
In two of his five years back with the program Sypniewski has coached a player who has posted at least 12 sacks. Junior Brandon Coleman had 12 in 2011 a year after All-American Dain Taylor registered 13.5 in his final season as a Bulldog.
Sypniewski previously served 18 years as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs from 1990-2007, following a head coaching position at Johnston (Iowa) High School from 1976-89.
A three-year starter at outside linebacker for the Bulldogs, Sypniewski was named the team’s most valuable player as a senior in 1971.
A Chicago, Ill., native, he graduated from Drake in 1972 and received his master’s degree in 1978. George and his wife, Cheryl, have a son, Quinn, who was a starting tight end on the University of Colorado football team and played for the Baltimore Ravens from 2006-09.
Defensive Backs Coach
Chris Petrilli joined the Drake football staff in April 2016 as defensive backs coach.
Petrilli spent last season at Boise State serving as the Broncos’ special teams and defensive quality control coach.
Before joining the Broncos, Petrilli was special teams, defensive backs and conditioning coach at the College of Idaho from 2013 to 2014.
Prior to going to the College of Idaho, Petrilli coached at Charleston Southern University in 2012. While at CSU, he coached the wide receivers and assisted in all aspects of special teams.
Petrilli spent four years at Eagle High School in Idaho, serving as the running backs and returners coach. During his time at EHS, the Mustangs achieved back-to-back Idaho championship appearances, winning the state title in 2009. Petrilli also coached four running backs that went on to play at the collegiate level.
Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Petrilli served in the U.S. Military as a member of the elite military forces, serving as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., before receiving an honorable discharge.
Petrilli played football at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. During his time with the Fighting Saints, he contributed in all three phases of the game, spending time at free safety and wide receiver, as well as special teams.
Petrilli graduated from Boise State in 2012, earning his degree in economics.