Ivy Champion Princeton Football Team Announces Trio Of Promotions Within Coaching Staff
As the Ivy League football champion Princeton Tigers draw closer to the start of the 2017 season, head coach Bob Surace was pleased to announce three promotions within his coaching staff. Steve Verbit, who will be entering his 33rd season with Tiger football, has been named Senior Associate Head Coach, and will resume his duties as defensive coordinator. Andrew Aurich ’06, entering his fifth season on the staff, has been named the Associate Head Coach, while Mike Willis ’14 will serve as Assistant Head Coach during his second season on the staff.
“I am excited to announce these promotions and to maintain continuity on our staff,” said Surace, the 2016 Ivy League Head Coach of the Year and a three-time finalist for FCS National Coach of the Year honors. “Steve Verbit brings more than three decades of experience to our staff, and while he takes leadership of the defense, he can serve as the ultimate advisor to both Andrew and Mike. We are blessed to have two Princeton Football alumni who can take control of several major organizational and administrative responsibilities, including alumni events, Career Day, golf outings, and more.”
The longest-tenured member of the Princeton football coaching staff, Verbit helped lead one of the best defenses in recent Ivy League history, the 2016 unit that led the league in scoring (16.4), total (317.6), and rushing (80.1) defense. Princeton, selected fifth in the preseason media poll, won the Ivy League title and shut out co-champion Penn 28-0. Lineman Kurt Holuba was a finalist for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year honors and an All-America honoree, while linemen Henry Schlossberg and Birk Olson joined Holuba on the All-Ivy teams.
Verbit will take greater control of the defense for the 2017 season after co-coordinator Jim Salgado joined the coaching staff of the Buffalo Bills.
Aurich, a former two-year starter on the Princeton offensive line, first returned to his alma mater, and is now in his position of comfort. After four seasons at Princeton — including time as running backs coach, tight ends coach, and special teams coordinator — Aurich moved to the offensive line coach for the 2016 season, as well as the position of recruiting coordinator.
So far, so good. In his first season coaching the offensive line, he helped Princeton win the Ivy League title and produce the league’s leading scoring (34.6), total (415.5), and rushing (183.2) units. Three of his offensive linemen — each of whom return in 2017 — earned All-Ivy League honors; Mitchell Sweigart became only the third Tiger lineman to earn first-team honors since 2000.
Willis has helped the Princeton football team win its last two Ivy League titles in multiple ways. In 2013, he was an offensive lineman on a record-setting offense that won the Ivy League championship. In 2016, he returned to his alma mater as one of the youngest position coaches in Division I football, and he again helped the Tigers win the title.
After spending the 2015 season as a coaching intern at his alma mater, Willis became the tight ends coach at Princeton last season. He helped Princeton produce the Ivy League’s top scoring and total offense, and he coached Scott Carpenter to an All-Ivy League season.