Blazek, Egorugwu Added to Coaching Staff

Offensive line coach AJ Blazek, linebackers coach John Egorugwu join coaching staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt head football coach Clark Lea added position coaches to his staff Tuesday with offensive line coach AJ Blazek and linebackers coach John Egorugwu.

Blazek brings 19 years of collegiate experience and a national title to West End. He was with North Dakota State in 2020 when it played just one game due to COVID-19. In 2019, Blazek’s first year at North Dakota State, his offensive line unit helped the Bison set a school record with 4,601 rushing yards. The Bison posted a 16-0 record in 2019, won their ninth consecutive Missouri Valley Football Conference championship and captured their eighth FCS national title in nine years.

Blazek arrived at North Dakota State after three seasons (2016-18) in the Big Ten as the offensive line coach at Rutgers, where he was the assistant head coach his final two seasons. He worked as the offensive line coach and the run game coordinator for Western Illinois from 2013-15. In each season the Leathernecks had a 1,000-yard rusher and an All-MVC offensive line selection.

Prior to serving at Western Illinois, Blazek had a four-year stint at Winona State (2009-12) in Minnesota. He worked with the offensive line and tight ends and was the co-offensive coordinator in his final three seasons with the Warriors. Blazek was named the 2012 Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.

Before joining Winona State, Blazek was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Fort Hays State (2005-08) in Kansas.

Blazek began his coaching career at his alma mater, Iowa, where he coached for four seasons (2001-04) with the Hawkeyes, the first year as a student assistant before becoming a graduate assistant coach.

Following his All-America and Academic All-America career at Butler County Community College, Blazek was a two-year letter winner at center for the Hawkeyes. He earned All-Big Ten Conference honors in 2000 and was a co-captain during the 2000 season. Twice he earned Academic All-Big Ten Conference honors.

Coming off a six-year stint in the National Football League, Egorugwu is back in college football. He was with the Buffalo Bills for four seasons (2017-20) as a defensive quality control coach and assistant linebackers coach and with Baltimore Ravens for two years (2015-16) as a staff assistant, working primarily with the team’s linebackers.

During his NFL tenure, Egorugwu was part of three playoff appearances with the Bills, including the 2020 AFC Championship Game appearance.

The 2019 campaign had Egorugwu help linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to his first Pro Bowl while the defense as a whole allowed just 298.3 yards/game. In 2018, Egorugwu helped the Bills linebackers to seven interceptions, tied with the New York Giants for the most among the position group in the league.

During his two years with the Ravens, Egorugwu aided linebacker Elvis Dumervil to a 2015 Pro Bowl bid and linebacker C.J. Mosley to a Pro Bowl nod in 2016. Mosley and linebacker Zach Orr were second team Associated Press All-Pros at the end of the 2016 campaign.

Before jumping to the NFL, Egorugwu was hired as the Missouri State wide receivers coach in 2015. He spent three years (2012-14) as a graduate assistant at Missouri, working with both the defense (2012) and offense (2013-14).

During his tenure, the Tigers earned Cotton Bowl (2013) and Citrus Bowl (2014) bids. Missouri claimed the SEC East Division title and played in the league’s title game in 2013 and 2014. The 2013 squad was ranked as high as No. 5 nationally in the AP poll while the 2014 team reached No. 14.

Egorugwu got his start in coaching at his alma mater, William Jewell, mentoring linebackers from 2010-11.

A linebacker himself for William Jewell, Egorugwu received his bachelor’s in accounting and business/management in 2007. He played in 29 games, booking 156 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two interceptions during his career.