The Valparaiso University football team has continued to assemble its coaching staff as head coach Landon Fox officially announced four additions and one returnee on Friday.
Fox has added Dave Bucar, Jon Robinson, Brannon Dunn and Devin Figaro and retained Zach Greiner, a holdover from the 2018 coaching staff.
Bucar will occupy the role of assistant head coach in addition to instructing the offensive line and serving as the run game coordinator for the Valpo offense. He owns a wealth of experience with notable programs including stints at the University of Pittsburgh (2009-2012, 2015-2016), Tiffin University (2013-2014), Louisiana State University (2017) and most recently Maryland (2018).
“When I interviewed Dave, it instantly became clear that he was very passionate about the game of football,” Fox said. “He’s a great teacher and technician. His attention to detail is important. He brings high-level football experience and he has participated in seven bowl games. He’s a grinder and a worker, and the players have already started to recognize his passion about offensive line play and the game of football.”
During his time at Pitt, Bucar served as a recruiting/defensive assistant, offensive quality control coach, offensive line graduate assistant and assistant offensive line coach. He instructed the offensive line at Tiffin before serving as the offensive quality control coach at LSU and the tight ends coach at Maryland. He was part of an LSU team that went to the Citrus Bowl in 2017. He was an offensive analyst for a Tigers team that finished the season with the fewest turnovers in the nation.
Bucar was part of a Pitt offense that ranked 10th nationally in points per game and eighth in redzone touchdowns in 2016. The Panthers averaged 446.8 yards of offense per game. During his playing days, Bucar was an offensive lineman at Washington & Jefferson and was a two-time All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference first-team selection.
“Landon Fox is the biggest reason I initially accepted this position at Valpo,” Bucar said. “His vision and energy for the program made me want to be a part of it.”
Robinson has taken on a role as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Valpo after holding those same positions at Wayne State University in Detroit since 2016. There he coached two all-conference players in 2016 and one in both 2017 and 2018 and was an instrumental part of a defense that ranked second in the GLIAC in 2016.
“I came to Valpo because I believe in Coach Fox,” Robinson said. “I believe I can bring a great special teams culture to Valpo. I was in Indiana once before and I am excited to be back in the state.”
Robinson was a graduate assistant at Ball State University from 2014-2016, where he worked closely with the defensive and special teams coordinators. Prior to that, he held a graduate assistant video coordinator role at Wayne State from 2012-2014.
The owner of a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in sports administration, Robinson played defensive end at Wayne State from 2007-2011, when he was a three-time all-conference selection. He was a part of the winningest class in Wayne State history, a run that culminated by finishing as the 2011 national runner-up.
“Jon played for me during my last season at Wayne State,” Fox said. “He was one of the hardest working players on the team and that has carried over to his time in the coaching profession. As a player, he helped turn Wayne State from a struggling team into a national runner-up. He’s a winner and I’m excited for him to make a positive impact on our program’s culture.”
Dunn has been named Valpo’s defensive line coach and run game coordinator. He comes to Northwest Indiana after a stint as the co-defensive coordinator at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio that began in July 2016. The team compiled a 29-4 record in his three seasons on staff and produced the conference defensive player of the year all three seasons. His defense held opponents to an average of 19.2 points per game.
“The reason I chose to join the Valpo coaching staff is the rise of competitiveness of this program,” Dunn said. “There are some great men on this football team and I’m excited to work with them. I believe one of the strengths I bring is my ability to develop the fundamentals on the defensive line. Defensive line play is a battle every snap and we have players with significant experience returning. I am excited to work with that group.”
Before joining Wittenberg’s staff, Dunn was an assistant coach at Missouri Baptist University from June 2015 to July 2016. He began his coaching career at Brookville High School in Brookville, Ohio after graduating from the University of Dayton with a degree in chemistry in December 2014. He played defensive tackle for the Flyers under defensive coordinator Landon Fox.
“Brannon is another coach who comes from a winning background,” Fox said. “I was impressed by what his team and defensive unit were able to accomplish during his time at Wittenberg. I knew him as a player, so I understand his values and what he stands for as a person.”
Before making his way to Porter County, Figaro had been the wide receivers coach at Notre Dame College in Cleveland, Ohio since the spring of 2017. He will fill that same role at Valpo.
“What first stood out to me about Valpo’s staff was the opportunity to work alongside a great coach like Coach Fox,” Figaro said. “Everyone I spoke to about Coach Fox had nothing but great things to say about him, and that excited me for the opportunity right away. We ended up having a conversation before I came up for an interview, and I already had a good feeling that the program was under a great, energetic leader. Coach Fox and I were on the same page, and once I met him in person, it solidified my thoughts on wanting to become a part of a great program and staff here at Valpo.”
Figaro coached two players to all-conference honors during his time at Notre Dame College. He previously served as a graduate assistant/assistant wide receivers coach at the University of San Diego and helped lead the Toreros to the first undefeated season in Pioneer Football League history. He was on staff as San Diego became the first non-scholarship FCS program to win an FCS playoff game in 2016.
“Devin understands the league and knows what it takes to win a PFL championship,” Fox said. “He relates to the players very well and he’s a technician. He played the position and understands the nuances of wide receiver play in terms of what it takes to be successful. His competitiveness creates a sense of confidence in his players.”
Figaro played at Tulane University (2009-2011) and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (2011-2013). He was the captain of the wide receivers in 2013.
“I am a high-energy coach who loves to make the game enjoyable for my players,” he said. “At the same time, I am demanding and detailed in technique and fundamentals. I was fortunate to play wide receiver at the Division I level, and I believe that has a great benefit when coaching specific techniques and ways to help my position group be successful on the field.”
Greiner is the lone returnee from the 2018 coaching staff. He will move to the offensive side of the ball to instruct tight ends in 2019, which will be his fifth season on staff. He has also coached outside linebackers and defensive backs. Greiner was on staff in 2017 as Valpo put together its first winning season since 2003.
“I am thankful for Coach Fox allowing me to remain on staff here at Valparaiso University,” Greiner said. “I believe in Coach Fox’s vision and message and it’s something I want to be a part of here. I’m excited to get back on the offensive side of the ball and learn from the great staff that has been put together. I have developed strong relationships with our players in my time at Valpo over the last four years and I want to continue to build those bonds.”
Greiner started all 48 games at the University of Saint Francis during his four-year playing career. He led the team to two conference championships and was a first-team all-conference honoree as a senior. A true local, Greiner graduated from Valparaiso High School in 2009 and was a first-team all-state honoree while helping the Vikings win a conference championship.
“What most impressed me about Zach is that he played for a team that lost a total of four regular season games in his four years of college,” Fox said. “He’s yet another winner on our coaching staff. He has great rapport with the players, which is a very important asset. I heard about his relationships with our current players numerous times from a variety of sources right after I was hired. He is well-liked not only among our players, but across this University.”
What They’re Saying About Coach Bucar
Matt Canada, 2018 Maryland Offensive Coordinator / Interim Head Coach: “Coach Bucar is one of the great young minds in the game of football today. He is a tremendous teacher and has a work ethic that is unmatched. Valpo football has made a great addition to its program and I am certainly excited to watch all of the success that is coming their way.”
What They’re Saying About Coach Robinson
Paul Winters, Wayne State Head Coach: “Jon Robinson is very similar to Coach Fox. He is young, energetic, extremely hardworking and intelligent. He will help the student-athletes at Valpo grow into leaders. We will miss him greatly at Wayne State.”
Brad Wilson, Indiana State Defensive Coordinator: “I know Jon as a husband, father and teacher and he excels at each. He possesses tremendous leadership qualities and will bring a great amount of passion and energy to his job every day.”
Keith McKenzie, Ball State Defensive Line Coach: “Jon Robinson is a smart and hard-working coach. He was the same as a player. He will be a tremendous asset to Valpo’s program.”
Scott Kazmierski, Wayne State Co-Defensive Coordinator: “Jon is one of the smartest, most energetic and passionate football coaches I know. He has a great understanding and passion for the game of football. Jon is incredible at motivating his players and getting them to play at a high level. He is a great addition to the staff and will be very successful in his coaching career.”
What They’re Saying About Coach Dunn
Reed Florence, Wittenberg Offensive Coordinator: “Coach Dunn is one of the hardest working coaches I’ve been around. His high energy and passion for the game and his players is unmatched.”
What They’re Saying About Coach Figaro
Dale Lindsey, San Diego Head Coach: “Devin is a hard worker and he came here and did a great job. We would love to have him here instead of at Valpo. He is a guy who is very deserving of a full-time job in our conference. He’s put in the time and he deserves this opportunity. I think Valpo has scored a really good coach and recruiter.”
Steve Irvin, UNLV Safeties Coach: “I believe Devin is one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the country. He has a tireless work ethic and will bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the program.”
Tanner Engtrand, Michigan Offensive Analyst: “Devin is a passionate and highly energized coach who brings out the best in his players on and off the field. He’s a relentless recruiter and a great addition to Coach Fox’s staff.”
What They’re Saying About Coach Greiner
Kurt Mattix, Eastern Kentucky Defensive Coordinator, 1999 Valpo grad and former Valpo assistant coach: “Zach is a young, energetic coach who teaches with knowledge and passion. He’s a coach who grew up in the area and has a passion to get Valpo back on top in the conference. He’s very knowledgeable and has coached on both sides of the ball. He’s been a part of successful teams at both the high school and college levels. He understands what it takes to be an elite college athlete. He will be a great asset to Coach Fox’s staff.”
Joey Didier, University of Saint Francis Defensive Coordinator: “Zach is a great young coach with tons of potential. He has experience on both sides of the ball, a great attitude and is very passionate about coaching for his hometown team.”