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BREAKING: Northwestern names North Dakota State’s David Braun as new defensive coordinator

Braun heads to the FBS with a huge rebuild ahead of him.

AFCA Insider

After over a month of waiting, Northwestern has finally found its new defensive leader.

Per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Northwestern football is reported to be hiring North Dakota State defensive playcaller David Braun as the program’s next defensive coordinator. Braun will succeed Jim O’Neil, whom NU parted ways with on Nov. 29 after his two seasons in Evanston.

Braun, who has served as NDSU’s defensive coordinator since 2019, closed out his season on Sunday with a 45-21 loss to South Dakota State in the FCS title game. It marked the third championship appearance for the Bison during Braun’s four years running the defense. During his tenure, the Bison won two FCS championships in 2019 and 2021, allowing an average of 12.3 and 11.1 points per game in those seasons, respectively. The Winona State alum was also named as the FCS Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop in 2021.

Before his time in Fargo, Braun took on a variety of roles coaching Northern Iowa from 2017-18, particularly as an outside linebackers and defensive line coach. He spent the two seasons before coaching defensive linemen at UC Davis, which followed his four-year tenure as Winona State’s co-defensive coordinator from 2011 to 2014.

Braun will certainly have his work cut out for him in Evanston. In addition to restoring a once fearsome defense to glory, the new coordinator will have to work with an almost entirely new starting lineup. The secondary loses Cam Mitchell, A.J. Hampton Jr. and likely Jeremiah Lewis.

The defensive line will also lose a ton of depth. The leader up front in Adetomiwa Adebawore is entering the draft, while Jordan Butler, Austin Firestone and Jason Gold Jr. have entered the transfer portal. Additionally, linebacker Wendell Davis Jr. and defensive back Tyler Haskins have also opted to transfer.

With the current transfer window set to close in just nine days, the former North Dakota State defensive guru will need to do a lot to fix a Northwestern unit that’s been one of the worst in the country the last two seasons.