The 2017 football season will mark Dennis Wagner’s first year as Briar Cliff’s head football coach.Wagner comes to Briar Cliff with experience at all levels of collegiate football, including 20-plus seasons at the NCAA Division I level.
Over the years, Wagner has helped produce numerous all-conference and all-American selections and a dozen of his linemen have been drafted into the National Football League, three of which have become All-Pros. Starting his coaching career in 1980, Wagner has an impressive coaching history that has led him to be a part of 10 NCAA bowl games and the second round of the FCS playoffs in 2014. He was twice named the Omaha World Herald’s Coach of the Year (1990, 1993).
As a coach, Wagner most recently finished up his fifth year at Liberty University, where he served as associate head coach and offensive line coach. Prior to that, he spent four seasons as the head coach at Western Carolina University. Wagner also spent four seasons at the University of Nebraska, serving as the Huskers’ offensive line coach from 2004-2007. From 1997-2003, he served as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Fresno State University.
Prior to joining the staff at Fresno State, Wagner spent seven seasons (1989-1995) as the head coach at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. There, he turned around the Wildcat program, compiling a 44-37-1 record in seven seasons. In 2005, he was inducted into the Wayne State College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Wagner’s other coaching stops included serving as the offensive coordinator and strength and conditioning coach at St. Cloud State (1985-1988), defensive line coach and assistant strength coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (1984), offensive line coach and head track and field coach at William Penn College (1983), tight ends and offensive tackles coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (1981-82) and offensive line coach at Luther College (1980).
Wagner and his wife, Cyndi, have two children, Whitney and Joshua.
2017 will mark Robert Dutton's first season as an assistant coach with the Charger football program. Dutton joins Briar Cliff after serving last season as the quarterbacks coach at Saint Joseph’s College. He helped the Pumas notch five all-conference selections on the offensive side of the ball and their quarterback tied the school record with 34 completions in a game. Dutton was at SJC for two years where he was the wide receivers coach and equipment manager in his first season with the Pumas. He helped Saint Joseph’s average 22.6 points per game in 2016 while racking up 357.6 yards per game with 141.6 yards per game on the ground and 216.0 through the air. The Pumas scored 30 touchdowns on the season with 16 passing and 14 rushing and also had 211 first downs. Dutton’s primary recruiting territory with SCJ was Chicago, Columbus, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute and Northwest Indiana.
Prior to his time with Saint Joseph’s, Dutton was the offensive coordinator at Columbus east High School in Ohio and before that he served as an assistant football coach and coordinator at Reynoldsburg High School from 2010-2012. He had nine players make a division I roster during his three seasons at Reynoldsburg.
Dutton played collegiately at Saint Joseph’s with the Pumas going 22-21 from 2006-09 when Dutton was a wide receiver. He played in 22 games during his final three seasons at SJC, reeling in 34 catches for 444 yards and five touchdowns. Dutton was named All-Great Lakes Football Conference honorable mention as a senior.
Dutton is a native of Hammond, Indiana where he played for Morton High School and was named the Hammond Athlete of the Year in 2006. He graduated from Saint Joseph’s in 2010 with a bachelors degree in business administration and received his masters degree in athletic administration from Ohio University in 2014.
Kai Ellis is in his first season as the Defensive Coordinator at Briar Cliff University.
Prior to joining the Chargers coaching staff, Ellis served two seasons as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at West Hills Community College, Coalinga. There they won back-to-back NCFC Division Championships during the 2016 and 2015 Seasons. Two of his players were nominated for First Team All-State Athletes in 2016. In 2015, Coach Ellis led the Defense to No. 1 overall in the California Community College Division.
Ellis served one season as the defensive line coach at Culver-Stockton College in 2014. He played a major role in improving scoring defense by 13.2 points less per game. The Wildcat defense ranked 14th in the nation in 2014, allowing only 119 rushing yards per game.
In 2013, Ellis assisted with the defensive line at his alma mater, the University of Washington, working on the enhancement and development of run game and pass rush techniques. His efforts contributed to a defensive unit that finished fourth in the NCAA in total sacks with 41. The Huskies finished 9-4 overall that season with a victory over Brigham Young University in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. In addition to his coaching, Ellis led recruiting efforts for high school prospects and was the liaison between players and academic counselors.
Ellis began his collegiate playing career at City College of San Francisco where he was named junior college Defensive Player of the Year by the California Community Colleges Football Coaches Association. He was also named MVP of the 2000 JC Grid-Wire National Championship game with their win over Bakersfield College. The team voted Ellis MVP after going 12-0 and winning its unprecedented second consecutive national championship in his two seasons. In total, the two-time JC Grid-Wire All-American was named California JuCo Defensive Player of the Year, Golden Gate Conference Player of the Year and Northern California Player of the Year in 2000. He ultimately ended up landing at Washington where he was nicknamed “The Creature” and earned 2001 All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors before being named to the 2002 preseason All-Pac-10 team by The Sporting News.
Following his career with the Huskies, Ellis signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 2003. He later moved to the Canadian Football League where he had a 10-year career.
Ellis played for the Calgary Stampeders (2003), Ottawa Renegades (2004-2005), Montreal Alouettes (2006-2008), Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2008), and the Edmonton Eskimos (2009-2010).
Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in 2002 with a degree in American Ethnic studies.
2017 marks Kenny Scott’s first season with the Briar Cliff football program as an assistant coach. Scott comes to Briar Cliff after serving as the defensive backs coach at Virginia Prep Sports Academy in 2016, the first year of the program.
Scott’s coaching experience also extends to 2015 when he coached defensive backs at Appomattox Country High School in Appomattox, Virginia. He helped the Raiders to their first state championship in school history.
Scott played three seasons for the Flames from 2012-2014 as a starting defensive back. Scott helped Liberty reach the playoffs for the first time in school history in 2014. His best season was as a senior when he notched 64 tackles, eight pass breakups, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Scott finished his career with the Flames with 157 tackles, six interceptions, 16 pass breakups and five fumble recoveries.
In 2014, Scott graduated from Liberty University with a bachelors of science degree in sport management.
Brandon Jackson is in his first season as an assistant coach at Briar Cliff after coaching four years at the middle and high school levels.
Prior to coaching, Jackson played six seasons in the NFL with four seasons with the Green Bay Packers and two years with the Cleveland Browns after being drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft by Green Bay and started at running back as a rookie. His NFL career is highlighted with a Super Bowl Championship in Super Bowl XLV with the Packers in his fourth season. Jackson rushed for 1,383 yards and seven touchdowns on 355 carries in 54 games in his pro career.
Jackson played collegiately at the University of Nebraska where he played three seasons for the Huskers from 2004-06. He racked up 1,431 rushing yards in his Nebraska career, finding his way into the endzone 14 times and carrying the ball 291 times in 33 games. His best rushing performance for the Huskers was a 182-yard game against Oklahoma State in 2006.
Jackson graduated with a degree in organizational management. He is married and has three children.
Jonathan Burgess is in his first season as an assistant coach at Briar Cliff after interning with the Liberty University Football program in 2016 as a strength coach and offensive line assistant.
Burgess helped the Liberty offense rack up 193 first downs in 2016 and average 348.5 yards per game. The Flames averaged 205.3 passing yards per game and 143.2 rushing yards per game on their way to 34 touchdowns with 18 passing and 16 rushing. The offensive line cleared the way for the offense to average 5.0 yards per play.
Prior to coaching, Burgess played as a walk on at Liberty from 2013-15 on the offensive line as a guard and center. He was a three-time all-conference player being named Second Team Big South Conference in 2013 and First Team Big South Conference in 2014 and 2015. He was also named 2nd Team All-American in AP FCS and Stats FCS in 2015.
Burgess majored in criminal justice at Liberty and is the son of Jonathan Burgess Sr. and Carol Burgess Sr.
Brian Collins in his first season as an assistant coach with the Chargers. Collins comes to Briar Cliff after beginning his coaching career at American Heritage School in Delray Beach, Florida. American Heritage is an independent non-sectarian and co-educational college preparatory day school for grades pre-k3 through 12 with approximately 900 students.
Prior to becoming a coach, Collins played college football at St. Joseph’s College where he was a four-year starter on the offensive line. He blocked for some of the best offenses in SJC history as well as for the school’s all-time leading rusher. Collins was named all-conference his senior year and was a four-time academic all-conference selection. He graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor of arts in sports management.
Collins is a native of Lodi, California.
Sam Howard enters his first season with the Charger football program as the safeties coach.
Howard comes to Briar Cliff from West Hill Community College where he served as the 2016 linebacker coach, special team assignments, and worked with the defensive Line. While at West Hill, Howard helped lead the team to their first American Bowl win. Prior to joining the West Hill coaching staff, Howard served as a high school linebacker coach at various high schools in Charlotte, NC from (2008-2015).
While in Charlotte, Howard also served for five years as a performance and skills trainer where he focused on players run speed and agility (2010-2015).
Howard graduated from Johnson C. Smith University, with a BS in Computer Science Information. He played as football at Johnson C. Smith as a linebacker and helped lead the team to their first Pioneer Bowl in 2006.
Howard is a native of Birmingham, AL where he graduated from Jackson-Olin High School. While there, as the team captain, he help lead the team to the playoffs on two occasions (1998 and 2000).