Click here to Skip to main content
University at Buffalo - Football
University at Buffalo - Football
 

DEFENSIVE COACHES


BRAIN BORLAND | Defensive Coordinator / Safeties

Brian Borland is in his third season as defensive coordinator.

In 2016, Borland guided a defense that led the MAC and ranked 13th in the nation in pass defense, allwoing 181.5 yards per game. Linebacker Khalil Hodge accumulated 213 tackles, the eighth most in school history for a single season, and was named All-MAC Second Team.

The Bulls were a very opportunistic defense in 2015. UB scored a school-record seven defensive touchdowns (by seven different players) to rank second in the nation.

Three members of his defense were named to the All-Mid-American Conference team in 2015. Linebacker Brandon Berry was named to the second team. Linebacker Okezie Alozie and cornerback Boise Ross were named to the third team. Ross broke the school record for passes defended in a season with 20 to rank fifth in the nation.

Borland came to UB from Wisconsin-Whitewater where he spent the previous 21 seasons. Since 2002, Borland served as the Warhawks defensive coordinator.

Borland began at UW-W in 1994, also serving as the defensive backs coach. He was announced as a 2015 Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee.

Borland was named Division III Coordinator of the Year in 2013 by footballscoop.com after helping lead the Warhawks to the NCAA Division III national championship, the team’s fifth in seven seasons. UW-Whitewater led the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 9.1 points per contest, and ranked No. 1 in the country in fumbles recovered (19) and turnovers forced (44).

From 2009-14, Borland’s defenses led the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and ranked among the top 20 in the nation in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense. The Warhawks also led the league in pass efficiency from 2010-13.

Borland earned Wisconsin Collegiate Assistant Coach of the Year honors from the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association in both 2004 and 2006. In the 2009 season, Borland led the Warhawks to the fourth best scoring defense in Division III. In 2010, the Warhawks were ranked second in NCAA Division III in run defense. In 2011, Borland’s rushing defense was ranked first in the WIAC.

From 1994-2002, Borland also coached track and field at UW-Whitewater. In 2000, he led the Whitewater women’s track and field team to a fourth place finish at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He earned NCAA D-III national coach of the year honors for his successful season.

Prior to Whitewater, Borland was the defensive coordinator for three years at Baker University (Kan.) from 1991-93, and at the University of Minnesota-Morris from 1989-90. He also was the head women’s softball coach at Baker University and head track and field coach at the University of Minnesota-Morris. Borland’s other stops include stints as a graduate assistant football coach at the University of Florida and at the University of Wisconsin. He also coached defensive backs at Arizona Western College.

Borland played his college football at Morningside (Iowa) College (1981-84) where he was a four-year letterwinner and three-year starter at defensive back, and a team captain.

In addition to his football coaching duties at UW-W, Borland taught in the HPRC Department.   

He has a wife, Gayle, and two sons, Evan and Jaren.
 
CHRIS SIMPSON | Linebackers
Chris Simpson is in his third season as linebackers coach.

In 2016, for the second straight season, Simpson's linebackers were the top three leading tacklers on the team. Khalil Hodge had a huge season for the Bulls, finishing with 123 tackles, the eighth most in school history for a single season and the second most in UB's FBS era. Hodge was named All-MAC Second Team.

Simpson made an immediate impact with the Bulls as the linebackers were arguably the strongest unit of the Bulls defense in 2015. The top three tacklers on the team were linebackers and for the first time since 2008, the Bulls had two different players with over 100 tackles as Nick Gilbo finished with 113 and Brandon Berry had 104. Berry was named All-MAC Second Team and Okezie Alozie was named third-team All-MAC.

Simpson came to UB after spending 2014 as the outside linebackers coach at MAC-foe Eastern Michigan.

Prior to coaching at EMU, Simpson spent the previous four seasons as linebackers coach at Grand Valley State. During his time in Allendale, Mich., the team posted a 39-11 record and four Division II playoff victories. He also tutored six All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) performers during that span.

Grand Valley closed the 2013 football campaign ranked third in the final American Football Coaches Association poll. The Lakers advanced to the NCAA DII National Semifinals for the eighth time after knocking off undefeated  and No. 3 ranked Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Senior linebacker Jordan Kaufman received second team All-GLIAC honors after leading the squad in tackles with 87, while also recording eight tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and returning a blocked field goal 56 yards for a score.  Also earning honorable mention league honors for GVSU were senior linebackers Charles Hill and Luther Ware.

His 2011 linebacking unit was a key component in a Laker defense that ended the year among the GLIAC leaders. GVSU led the league in tackles for loss (93) and sacks (36), while ranking second in scoring defense (20.2). GVSU limited opponents to 15.5 points per game in its last five games that season.

Simpson’s linebacking unit helped the Laker defense rank nationally in several categories, including the top 20 in tackles for loss and quarterback sacks in 2010. Ware  and Justin Victor earned All-GLIAC accolades during the 2010 campaign.

He arrived at GVSU following a two-year stint at the University of Nebraska-Omaha under current EMU defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin. The Mavericks were 14-9 with one appearance in the NCAA DII playoffs during his time on the staff.

Simpson spent five years at Division III national power Wisconsin-Whitewater where he was an assistant coach in charge of the linebackers. UWW was 42-3 his final three seasons with three-straight NCAA DIII National Championship game appearances and three Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crowns. The Warhawks claimed the 2007 National Championship and turned in an overall mark of 56-9 during his five years on the staff.

In addition, Simpson coached two years (1999-2000) at Waunakee (Wis.) High School, one year (2001) at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, as a graduate assistant and one year (2002) at Wisconsin-Platteville. In the summer of 2006, Simpson was selected as a participant at the NCAA Men’s Football Coaches Academy.

He also has received an NFL Minority Coaching Internship on six occasions, from the Green Bay Packers for defensive line and special teams in the summer of 2006, in 2007 with the Dallas Cowboys, in 2008 with the Carolina Panthers, in 2009 with the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns and in 2013 with the Detroit Lions.

Simpson graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wisconsin-Whitewater in physical education in 1998. He earned his master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2004.

Simpson and his wife, Nicole, have three children: Jarryn, Riley and Noah.
 
TIM EDWARDS | Defensive Line
Tim Edwards is in his third season as defensive line coach.

In 2016, the UB defensive line was one of strengths of the defense. Of the Bulls' 18 sacks on the season, 10 came defensive linemen, including a team-high four from Brandon Crawford.

In 2015, he molded a young defensive line unit that showed promise throughout the season. He helped lead a defense that scored seven defensive touchdowns, which ranked second in the nation.

Edwards has 21 years of coaching experience. He spent four years as defensive line coach at Louisiana-Lafayette before coming to Buffalo.

Louisiana-Lafayette won the New Orleans Bowl in all four seasons he was with the Ragin' Cajuns. In 2014, the team led the Sun Belt Conference in rush defense and defensive linemen Christian Ringoand Justin Hamilton were both named All-Sun Belt First Team. Edwards also coached an all-conference defensive lineman in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Prior to coaching at Louisiana-Lafayette, Edwards spent three seasons as co-defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach at Florida A&M. In 2010, the Rattlers were co-champions of the MEAC and Edwards was selected to coach in the HBCU All-Star Bowl.

Edwards spent four seasons as defensive line coach and linebackers coach as well as recruiting coordinator at Hampton University. The Pirates were MEAC Champions and FCS playoff participants in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Hampton finished in the top six in the FCS in scoring defense in 2005 and 2006.

He also had coaching stints at Pearl River Community College, Kentucky State and the Carolina Rhinos of the AFL2.

Edwards is a 1991 graduate of Delta State University with a degree in aviation management. He was an All-American linebacker/defensive lineman for the Statesmen and is in the school's hall of fame. He played three seasons for the New England Patriots as well as three seasons for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.

He and his wife, LuAnn, have three children, Halena, Timothy II and Kenci.

TAIWO ONATOLU | Cornerbacks

Taiwo Onatolu is in his second season as cornerbacks coach after starting his career at UB as director of player personnel.

In 2016, UB's defense led the MAC and ranked 13th in the nation in pass defense - allowing 181.5 yards per game.

Onatolu came to UB from Missouri State where he spent the previous five seasons at inside linebakers coach. He is a native of Papillion, NE, and spent the 2007 to 2010 seasons as an assistant at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

He was also a standout linebacker at UNO, starting four seasons for the Mavericks, earning All-NCC first-team honors three times and All-America first-team honors in 2004. He was the North Central Conference's most valuable linebacker in 2004 after posting 98 tackles and 5 interceptions. He was in on 71 tackles as a senior, helping him earn All-America second and third-team honors by different agencies.

Onatolu finished his four-year stint at UNO as the program's No. 2 all-time tackler with 371 total stops. He also tallied 46.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 7 interceptions and 182 solo tackles in 44 games. He helped the Mavericks to a pair of NCC titles and a 2005 playoff appearance.

After completing his degree in Communication, Public Affairs & Community Service from UNO in 2006, Onatolu stayed at UNO for two years as a graduate assistant coach, working with the squad's linebackers. He coached All-American safety Randy Kush in 2007, the school's all-time leader in interceptions. He moved to full-time status in March 2010 and helped UNO to a combined 29-16 ledger during his four years on staff, including NCAA Division II playoff appearances in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In his first season at Missouri State in 2011, he had the best of both worlds with a gritty and determined senior in David Ingram at one inside linebacker spot and a redshirt freshman in Andrew Beisel at the other. Beisel went on to record a team-high 84 tackles, becoming the first MSU freshman since 1998 to lead the club in total stops and earned MVFC All-Newcomer Team distinction. Ingram, who started all 11 games, tallied 77 tackles and finished third on the squad.

In 2012, Onatolu used five different starters in his rotation, including Beisel who led all middle linebackers with 73 stops in 10 games, while redshirt freshman Christian Hoffmann brought down 41 ball carriers with 5 starts in an impressive debut campaign.

It was Beisel and Hoffmann who led Onatolu's inside backers again in 2013. Beisel tallied 96 stops while starting all 12 games and earning All-MVFC honorable mention honors his junior campaign, while Hoffmann earned 9 starts his sophomore season with 36 total stops. The tandem helped Missouri State rank among the national leaders in red zone defense, rushing defense, scoring defense and passing defense, while ranking as one of the top defensive units in the MVFC.

Onatolu's twin brother, Kenny, has enjoyed a professional career that began with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League and included stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. He was also an All-NCC linebacker.
 
BRAD McCASLIN | Defensive Assistant & Director of Player Personnel

Former Eastern Michigan defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin enters his first season as defensive assistant and director of player personnel.  McCaslin brings with him 20 years of coaching experience, including serving as the defensive coordinator at Eastern Michigan for the past two seasons. Leipold and McCaslin worked together at Nebraska-Omaha from 1997-2000 and from 2004-06.

Prior to Eastern Michigan, McCaslin spent two years at Drake University where he served as the team’s defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach. A proven winner, McCaslin has been a part of teams that have posted winning records in 15 of his 17 seasons. During that span, the squads won seven conference championships and posted a 65.6 winning percentage(126-66).
In 2012, the Bulldogs ranked second in the PFL in total defense by surrendering just 329 yards per game and two Bulldogs, including PFL Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Moorehead, ranked in the top 10 in the league in sacks. Additionally, nine Drake defenders were named to all-PFL teams.

McCaslin came to Drake from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he coached for 14 seasons, including the last six as the Mavericks’ defensive coordinator (2005-10). He also served as associate head coach his final four seasons.


As defensive coordinator at UNO McCaslin oversaw a dramatic improvement across the entire unit. The 2007 Mavericks ranked first in the North Central Conference in scoring defense (16.8), turnover margin (+14) and rush defense (97.2). Their red zone defense also improved from worst to first in the NCC from 2006 to 2007. UNO players collected all three NCC defensive MVP awards in 2007.


McCaslin began his tenure at Nebraska-Omaha as a graduate student assistant coach for three seasons (1997-99) before becoming a full-time assistant in 2000, in charge of the defensive line. McCaslin’s units were quickly among the strongest in the conference. Among his star pupils was All-American Chris Cooper, a sixth-round draft pick who has spent nine seasons in the National Football League. He also coached Buck Rasmussen, who earned a Super Bowl ring in 2005 with the New England Patriots, and Kenny Onatolu, who played with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League before being signed by the Minnesota Vikings prior to the 2009 season.

McCaslin spent four seasons as the team’s recruiting coordinator in addition to his defensive line duties, from 2001-05. In 2009, UNO finished third in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association in total defense and had the second-best rushing defense to go along with the league’s third-best passing defense.


A native of Cheyenne, Wyo., McCaslin was a stand-out wide receiver at Hastings College from 1990-1994. While there he set the school record for most receptions in a game. After graduating he taught and coached at Benson High School in Omaha, Neb., for two years before becoming a graduate assistant at UNO.

NAJJA JOHNSON | Graduate Assistant

Najja Johnson returns to UB as a defensive graduate assistant after a standout career with the Bulls.

Johnson returned to Buffalo after a stint at Marietta High School in Marietta, GA, his high school alma mater. Johnson spent two years on the staff working with the defensive backs and coached Raymond Lester to multiple FBS scholarships before Lester elected to attend Auburn University.

A Jim Thorpe Award Watch Lister at Buffalo, Johnson played safety and cornerback for the Bulls from 2010-13. As a junior, Johnson led the Mid-American Conference in interceptions with five. He was anAll-MAC First Team selection his senior season. He tallied 119 tackles (90 solo) and nine interceptions for his career. His 38 career pass breakups are second-most in Buffalo history while his 11 in 2011 are tied for the most in a single season in school history. He was originally a walk-on at Buffalo before earning a starter's role in 2011.

MASON JUDD | Graduate Assistant