’Cats bring NFL talent to lead defense

Ray Bressette

The Northern Michigan University football team improved their coaching staff in the midst of spring football last week when head coach Chris Ostrowsky announced the hiring of David Corrao as defensive coordinator.re-football_tease

Ostrowsky said Corrao’s passion for the game put him above the rest.

“Corrao is tremendous,” Ostrowsky said. “He has a brilliant football mind with an unbelievable amount of experience. What I love about him is he puts the work in every single day. He’s worked under some ultra successful people in this business, and he’s going to step up that side of the ball for us immediately.”

Corrao is fresh off a run with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, spending eight years with the professionals and serving the last six years as the team’s assistant linebacker coach.

In 2010, his Dolphins’ defense put together the third best rushing attack in the league and also reached the playoffs in his first season with the team in 2008.

Through his time in Miami, Corrao became proficient in the 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes, which he could bring to the Wildcat defense this fall.

Corrao’s last college stint was with the University of Mississippi, serving two years as a graduate assistant before getting promoted to the linebackers coach in 2007 before moving on to the Dolphins.

Corrao also has experience working with the offensive side of the ball, because prior to Mississippi, he worked for Northeastern University as the tight ends coach as well as recruiting.

His career began at the University of Syracuse in 2000, working with defensive backs, linebackers and quality control. The 1997 graduate from the University of Arizona is joining the football staff that is already equipped with NFL talent in wide receivers Marcus Knight, who played for the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with Ostrowsky who has Division I experience.

Corrao is replacing NMU’s former defensive coordinator Joe Ballard, who left the program after three seasons with the team.

The Wildcat defense finished the 2015 season ranked ninth out of 15 teams in overall defense, allowing 437.3 yards per game.

The ’Cats brought in 12 interceptions and 10 fumbles on the season, scoring two touchdowns in the process.

NMU’s defense will lose a number of key veterans this offseason, with seniors such as linebackers Levi Perry and Dante Holmes graduating this spring. There are a few returning linebackers in junior Julian Hornback and sophomore Darryl Williams who Corrao can work with moving forward.

The Wildcat defense will be up against some of the GLIAC’s top offenses this season, playing three of the top four total offenses from last season in Ferris, Findlay and Grand Valley.

Ostrowsky said the players will continue the basic principles he’s built for a successful team.

“At the end of the day, football is still football,” Ostrowsky said. “Your defense still has to run to the ball, tackle and create turnovers, but scheme-wise there will be different twists and turns for sure. We will have a sound, complete defense that understands the task at hand.”