Former Cowboy Brian Hendricks hired as new UW defensive ends coach

Mar. 11—LARAMIE — Former University of Wyoming football star Brian Hendricks was hired to return to his alma mater as the team's defensive ends coach, the school announced in late February.

Hendricks, a native of Burlington, Colorado, played for the Cowboys from 2008-11 and was honored three times with Mountain West All-Conference honors at linebacker.

Hendricks returns to UW from Illinois State University, where he has been the defensive line coach the past five seasons under head coach Brock Spack, who was the Cowboys' defensive coordinator in 1995-96. Before ISU, Hendricks coached for three seasons at the University of Montana.

In his first season with the Griz in 2015, Hendricks coached the defensive ends. He coached the entire defensive line his final two seasons at Montana.

In 2013, he earned his first full-time college coaching position at Colorado Schools of Mines, coaching the Oredigger defensive line for two seasons. Hendricks also served as a defensive graduate assistant at Colorado State, working for his former linebacker coach at UW, Marty English, who Hendricks replaces as UW's defensive ends coach following English's retirement announcement last month.

"Brian Hendricks embodies the term Cowboy Tough," UW head coach Craig Bohl said in a new release. "Brian was an outstanding player here at Wyoming and was elected a team captain here, which is one of the finest honors a player can receive.

"I've followed his coaching career, whether it be at Colorado School of Mines, at Montana or most recently at Illinois State. I have a really good connection with Brock Spack at Illinois State, and I know what type of football they play. Our defensive ends will really benefit from Brian's coaching, and I know he will represent the University of Wyoming well."

It's a humbling experience to be able to return to his alma mater as a coach, Hendricks said.

"This is a special opportunity for me to return to the University of Wyoming, considering I played my entire college career at Wyoming and how important the program is to me," Hendricks said in the release. "Wyoming is an unbelievable place with unbelievably good people. In addition, my wife, Talia, is from Green River, Wyoming, and so this is a special opportunity for our entire family.

"I want to thank coach Bohl for offering me this opportunity to be part of Cowboy football once again. Having coached in the Missouri Valley Conference the last several years, I know about coach Bohl's success in the Missouri Valley at North Dakota State. That combined with the success Wyoming has had since he has been in charge of the program, it is an honor to be able to work for him now at my alma mater."

This fall, the Illinois State defense ranked No. 5 in the nation among Football Championship Subdivision teams in sacks with 35. ISU also was No. 5 in the country in pass defense (169.8 yards allowed per game), No. 10 in total defense (318.5 yards allowed) and No. 11 in scoring defense (20.2 points allowed per game).

In 2019, the Redbirds enjoyed an outstanding season, posting a 10-5 record and advancing to the FCS quarterfinals before losing a defensive battle to the eventual national champions of NDSU. Illinois State was ranked No. 6 in the nation in 2019.

Hendricks' 2019 defensive front led the FCS in sacks with 52. The defensive line unit was led by All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first-team defensive end Romeo McKnight and MVFC honorable mention nose tackle John Ridgeway. McKnight would go on to sign as a free agent with the Cleveland Browns.

The 52 sacks in 2019 were also an ISU school record. The 2019 Redbird defense ranked in the top 20 in the nation in seven defensive categories, including leading the nation in red-zone defense (61.4%), ranking No. 3 in turnovers gained (33), No. 4 in scoring defense (16.0 points allowed per game), No. 11 in total defense (303.5), No. 14 in rushing defense (116.7) and No. 19 in pass defense (186.8).

The 2018 season was also a strong one for the Redbird defense as it ranked No. 10 in scoring defense (20.0) and No. 22 in rushing defense (126.8). ISU also was ranked No. 2 in total defense in the conference behind NDSU with 309.8.

At Montana, Hendricks served the last two seasons as the Grizzlies' defensive line coach. He worked with 2015 STATS FCS defensive player of the year Tyrone Holmes, who led the nation with 18 sacks. The 2015 Griz team posted an 8-5 record, advancing to the second round of the FCS playoffs and earned a No. 14 national ranking.

Hendricks followed Colorado School of Mines head coach Bob Stitt to Montana. Hendricks was an assistant coach for Stitt at Mines for the 2013-14 seasons, working with the defensive line. In 2014, Mines had an overall record of 10-2 and tied for the RMAC title with an 8-1 league mark. The Orediggers advanced to the first round of the 2014 NCAA Division II playoffs and earned a No. 16 national ranking.

With Hendricks coaching the defensive front, the 2014 Orediggers' defense ranked second in the RMAC in scoring defense (23.4), No. 1 in the RMAC and No. 36 in the nation in Division II in rushing defense (124.9) and No. 1 in the RMAC and No. 12 in the nation in sacks (38).

Hendricks coached an Oredigger defense in 2013 that ranked No. 1 in the RMAC and No. 7 in the country in scoring defense (17.0).

Hendricks joined Stitt's staff in 2013, following a short stint as a defensive graduate assistant at Colorado State. English was CSU's defensive coordinator during Hendricks' time in Fort Collins.

As a linebacker for the Cowboys from 2008-11, Hendricks earned second-team All-Mountain West honors twice — as a senior in 2011 and as a sophomore in 2009. He earned honorable mention All-MW honors his junior season of 2010 after fighting through a handful of nagging injuries.

Hendricks had 309 career tackles and played in 45 games for the Cowboys. He was a starter for the Pokes when they won the 2009 New Mexico Bowl with a 35-28 double-overtime win over Fresno State.

In the bowl game, Hendricks led Wyoming with 13 tackles and helped with a crucial goal-line stand in the first overtime to help the Cowboys pull out the win.

Hendricks ended the 2009 season ranked No. 12 in the nation in tackles, averaging 10.6 per game. His 116 tackles in the 2009 season ranks as the 24th best single-season performance in school history, and he still holds the school record for most tackles in a single game, recording 23 tackles on the road at Air Force in 2009.

Hendricks earned his bachelor's degree in agricultural business from the UW in 2011.

Alex Taylor covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at or 269-364-3560. Follow him on Twitter at @alex_m_taylor22.