Football Coaches
Landon Fox
Head Coach
Chris Limbach
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Brian Dougherty
Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach
Jon Robinson
Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
Brannon Dunn
Defensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator
Brad Bustle
Offensive Line Coach
Fred Gladney
Wide Receivers Coach
Barry Derickson
Tight Ends Coach
RJ Ghilarducci
Nickelbacks Coach
Trent Smart
Associate Director of Sports Performance
Shane Heston
Director of Recruiting
Madison Soliday
Assistant Director of Football Operations
Dena Smiley
Administrative Assistant
Full List
RJ Ghilarducci

RJ Ghilarducci

Nickelbacks Coach

Email Robert.Ghilarducci@valpo.edu

RJ Ghilarducci is entering his second season on the Valpo coaching staff in Fall 2021.

Ghilarducci was on staff in Spring 2021 as Valpo posted its best winning percentage since 2003 and tied for the squad’s best winning percentage since 1999. The team garnered Pioneer Football League runner-up honors, the program’s highest finish in the league standings since the PFL championship season of 2003.

He was part of a defensive staff that led the Spring 2021 team to the program’s best defensive season in four decades. Valpo held opponents to 283.3 yards per game, the program’s best total defense in the last 40 years. Valpo limited the opposition to 172.2 passing yards per game, the program’s best passing defense since 2008. In addition, the squad boasted its best rushing defense (111.2 yards per game) and scoring defense (18.7 points per game) since 1999.

Ghilarducci joined the Valpo football staff for the Spring 2021 season after spending the previous three seasons at the University of San Diego, where he served in multiple roles including assistant defensive backs coach, assistant defensive line coach and specialists coach. While at San Diego, he was part of three Pioneer Football League championship teams and multiple FCS playoff appearances. His position groups produced seven all-PFL performers, including FCS all-time sacks leader Jonathan Petersen. In addition, Ghilarducci was part of the first nonscholarship program to win a playoff game in FCS history.

Prior to San Diego, Ghilarducci worked as a defensive line and outside linebackers intern at the University of Oregon, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2015 and was an all-conference rugby player. He graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 2010 in his hometown of El Dorado Hills, Calif.

What They’re Saying About Coach Ghilarducci

“RJ has three qualities that you always want in a coach. He’s smart. He’s passionate. He’s a worker. He is going to do a great job at Valparaiso.” -Six-time NBA All-Star, 1989 NBA Finals MVP and NBA Hall of Famer Joe Dumars, 1985-1999 Detroit Pistons

“RJ is a tireless worker who will do whatever it takes to make sure the job is done right. Valpo has hired a good one.” -Jacques Cesaire, Buffalo Bills Assistant Defensive Line Coach

“We were very fortunate to stumble upon RJ quite some time ago. He came here as an intern and was one of the best we’ve ever had. He is extremely intelligent and does a great job with breakdowns and working with computers. He’s one of those guys who has a feel for coaching and is able to see the big picture and the small parts that make it all work. We were fortunate to have him here and we hope that he has a wonderful coaching career. We think he’ll go far.” -Dale Lindsey, University of San Diego Head Coach