Brad Pole, a veteran coach with more than three decades of experience, is in his fifth 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.
Special Teams Coordinator / Defensive Line Coach
Willie Cashmore, a former Drake University football standout, is in his sixth 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. He also the Bulldogs' special teams coordinator.
Cashmore's 2017 defensive line group ranked second in the PFL with 27 sacks and was led by First Team All-PFL selections Nathan Clayberg and Tanner Evans. Clayberg led the Bulldogs' defensive line with 44 tackles, while Evans led the group with six sacks. To go along with their success on the field, Clayberg and Evans were just as successful in the classroom as they both were named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.
Under Cashmore's direction, Josh Lee was named 2016 Pioneer Football League Special Teams Player of the Year, while return specialist Terry Wallen, defensive linemen Nathan Clayberg, Tanner Evans and Mack Marrin each received All-PFL honors.
In 2015, Cashmore led Mack Marrin to first-team All-PFL honors and guided seniors punter Cam Bohnert, long snapper Michael Vankat, and defensive lineman Al Wegener to honorable mention honors.
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 2014.
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.
Allen Smith is in his fifth 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.
Smith's linebackers helped the Bulldogs lead the PFL in total defense as well as pass defense. He led Mike Maize to Second Team All-PFL honors and Kieran Severa to All-PFL honorable mention accolades.
In 2016, Smith coached Taylor Coleman to his second All-PFL honor.
Smith guided John Hugunin to earn third-team FCS STATS All-American, third-team AP All-American and first-team All-PFL honors in 2015.
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
Michael McClanathan is in his second season as offensive line coach after spending the last two season as assistant offensive line coach for the Bulldogs.
In his first season leading the offensive line, McCLanathan helped lead Payson Wick and Ryan Lemke to First Team All-PFL honors and Jordan Lewinsky to Second Team All-PFL accolades. The front-five paved the way for the Bulldogs to average 378.1 yards of total offense per game.
In 2016, McClanathan helped coach a pair of All-Pioneer Football League selection, Payson Wick and Ryan Lemke.
As a student-athlete, McClanathan was a four-year letter winner for the Bulldogs.
He received a bachelor's degree in secondary education in December 2015.
Defensive Backs Coach
John Bloss is in his second season as a coach at his alma mater and oversees the defensive backs.
In his first season guiding the defensive backs, Bloss coached three All-PFL selections, Jabari Butler, Kyrell Newell and Terry Wallen. Bloss' DBs helped the Bulldogs lead the PFL in pass defense with 199.7 yards per game.
Bloss returned to Des Moines after spend the last two years working as director of business development at Mission Kite String, a non-profit organization focused on raising up local leaders in the country of Haiti.
Bloss spent the summer of 2016 working with the non-profit Josiah-Venture in Bulgaria, where he served as a huddle leader for their sports wilderness camp.
As a student-athlete, Bloss was a four-year starter as a defensive back and recorded over 150 career tackles, three interceptions and 22 pass breakups. He received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management in December 2015.
Running Backs Coach
Kirk Wherritt is in his first season at Drake after spending 10 seasons at Trinity International where he was the head coach his last eight seasons. At Drake, he will oversee the team’s running backs.
Wherritt was the longest-tenured head coach in Trinity history and compiled a record of 25-59. In his eight years at the helm of the Trojan program, he helped guide 52 players to MSFA All-Conference teams and 23 to NCCAA All-American honors. Last July, Jarell Carter signed a contract with the Arizona Cardinals.
Prior to heading to Trinity, Wherritt then spent three seasons at UNLV, where he coached the defensive line for two season and coached the tight ends in his final season.
Wherritt began his coaching career at Utah in 2004 and assisted with quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen (now head coach at Florida).
He received his bachelor degree from UW-Milwaukee and his master's degree from UNLV.
Wherritt is married to his wife, Keli, and has a daughter Kenzie and son Gavin.
Former Drake standout Jeff Martin is in his 23rd year as an aide with the 2018 season marking his 12th season as quarterbacks coach.
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.
Martin and his wife, Deb, have a son, Matt, and a daughter, Jenny, along with grandsons Will Flug and Cameron Flug.
Assistant Offensive Line Coach / Operations
Joshua Nash is in his first year as assistant offensive line coach for the Bulldogs.
Prior to coming to Des Moines, Nash was a graduate assistant for the Washington men's basketball program. He aided the coaching staff on daily basketball tasks, including practice times, class schedules and travel arrangements.
He earned his bachelor's degree from Concordia University Chicago in 2017, where he was a special teams captain and led the team in tackles on special teams.
George Sypniewski is in the seventh year of his second stint with the Drake football program in 2017, having rejoined the Drake staff in August 2010 to work with the defensive line.
In 2014, Sypniewski 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.