Brett Holinka named UND Football defensive coordinator

Former two-time all-conference selection for UND spent last season coaching OLBs

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – With the departure of Eric Schmidt, University of North Dakota head football coach Bubba Schweigert announced Thursday that Brett Holinka has been named as the program’s new defensive coordinator. The former two-time all-conference selection during his playing days at North Dakota served as the school’s outside linebackers coach last season.

“We are excited about Coach Holinka’s leadership on the defensive side of the ball,” said Schweigert. “I felt he has the leadership qualities and his previous experiences will continue to help us improve on defense as well as our football team as a whole. As a former player, Brett is passionate about the University of North Dakota and Fighting Hawks football.”

Holinka spent last season on Schweigert’s staff coaching the outside linebackers, where he led Jaxson Turner to finish second on the team with 4.5 sacks and racked up 44 tackles while Jade Lawrence enjoyed a career-best campaign in his final season with 51 total tackles, a pair of sacks, and two interceptions. He helped North Dakota finish the season with a 7-4 record and its second appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs.

Prior to returning to UND, Holinka spent the 2018 year in the state of North Dakota, serving as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at U-Mary. While in Bismarck, Holinka coached a Marauder team to 12 interceptions and 26 sacks which ranked sixth and ninth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, respectively.

Before the stint at U-Mary, Holinka spent three seasons at Winona State as the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach, guiding the Warriors to a 10-2 record in 2017 and a NCAA Division II playoff berth. During that season, Winona State led the NSIC in punt returns, kick returns, and overall kick coverage as well as scoring defense, total defense, takeaways, third down efficiency, red zone efficiency, and opponent pass efficiency. The previous season, the Warriors ranked second nationally in punt returns and sixth in total blocked kicks. Holinka coached a pair of players to all-conference selections as linebacker Mike Imperial and return specialist Jake Balliu both earned All-NSIC First Team honors in 2016 and 2017.

Holinka made stops at Rutgers (2012-2014) and St. Thomas (2010-11) to begin his coaching career, helping the Tommies reach the quarterfinals (2010) and semifinals (2011) of the NCAA Division III playoffs during each of his two seasons.

A 2009 graduate from the University of North Dakota with a degree in physical education and exercise science, Holinka was a four-year letterwinner and two-year starter for the Fighting Sioux football team from 2005-2008. He helped guide UND to a pair of North Central Conference (NCC) titles in 2005 and 2006 and was named to the All-NCC Honorable Mention team as a linebacker in 2007. Holinka concluded his career as a member of the inaugural Division I team in 2008, earning All-Great West honors.

Please contact Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Alec Stocker Johnson to arrange any media requests with Holinka.

Other unfilled positions will be announced at a later date.

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