The Chicago Bears have added six coaches who will join head coach Matt Eberflus' 2023 minicamp and training camp staffs as part of the NFL's Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
The program's objective is to use NFL club's training camps to give coaches and scouts opportunities to observe, participate, gain experience and ultimately gain a full-time NFL coaching position.
"We are very excited to welcome five new coaches, and welcome Coach Anderson back, to join our coaching staff during our 2023 veteran minicamp and training camp sessions," head coach Matt Eberflus said. "We are confident that these six coaches will be outstanding assets to our coaching staff and we are looking forward to learning from each other and growing together. I'm excited to see them gain experience and develop as coaches and people over the course of training camp."
The six coaches joining Eberflus' staff include Donte Ellington (co-special teams coordinator/wide receivers, Missouri State University), Antonio James (assistant head coach/defensive line, Southern Illinois University), John Johnson (running backs, Sam Houston State University), Alex Officer (offensive line - graduate assistant, Rutgers University), Darius Safford (defensive backs, Kennesaw State University) and Dominic Anderson (defensive coordinator/linebackers, Fayetteville State University), who will return for his second summer internship with the organization.
Ellington joins the Bears staff after recently accepting a new position as the wide receivers coach and co-special teams coordinator in March 2023 at Missouri State University. In 2022, he served as the wide receivers coach at Tennessee Tech, where he also served as the Golden Eagles' pass-game coordinator and NFL liaison. Ellington also has two previous FCS stops, including Eastern Kentucky University in 2019 and Abilene Christian University in 2020. At Abilene Christian, the Wildcats' offense ranked third in the Southland Conference in completion percentage, fourth in passing and fourth in passing first downs. Ellington began his coaching career at San Jose High Academy from 2005-14, where he served as both offensive and defensive coordinators, as well as an assistant track and field coach. Following stops at Menlo College, Garden City Community College and Independence Community College, he took his first NCAA job with Division II's Midwestern State, serving as the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. While at Midwestern State, seven wide receivers set school records, compiling over 6,000 yards and 60 touchdowns in two seasons. Ellington has coached five players who have gone on to play in the National Football League.
James comes to Chicago from Carbondale, Ill., where he was recently promoted to assistant head coach at Southern Illinois University in January 2023. During his first season with the Salukis, James served as the defensive line coach and will continue to coach in that capacity.
Prior to his arrival in Carbondale, James spent four seasons at Morgan State University as the program's defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2018-21) and as the co-special teams coordinator and linebackers coach in 2017. Under James' guidance, the Bears' defense was one of the top defenses in the MEAC in 2018, ranking among the top-five in nine different categories on defense. In 2017, while James tutored Morgan State's defensive line, he was named to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) 30 Under 30 Coaches' Leadership Institute. His college coaching career began in 2014 when he served as a graduate assistant coach for the University of Michigan (2014-16) and assisted the defensive line. His first coaching experience came in 2011, when he coached the defensive line and outside linebackers for three seasons at Urbana High School (2011-13). A former four-year letterman on the defensive line at the University of Illinois (2006-09), James helped lead the Fighting Illini to the 2008 Rose Bowl Game. He appeared in 46 games with six starts, totaling 40 tackles, six tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks throughout his playing career.
Johnson arrives in Chicago from Huntsville, Texas, where he currently serves as the running backs coach as well as the offensive recruiting coordinator/NFL Liaison for Sam Houston University. Prior to joining the Sam Houston staff in 2022, Johnson spent the 2021 season at his alma mater, Oklahoma State University as a prospect analyst. Johnson also tutored the running backs at South Dakota State during the 2016-17; 2020-21 seasons. While at SDSU, Johnson mentored two of the top running backs in the FCS in Pierre Strong Jr. and Isaiah Davis. Strong was named All-American in both 2020 and 2021, rushing for 1,686 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final year. Johnson also served as running backs coach at SDSU in 2016-17 before embarking on a coaching stint at the professional level with the Atlanta Legends (Alliance of American Football). Johnson began his collegiate coaching career at Ouachita Baptist University, where he filled a variety of coaching roles from 2009-2012. He coached the team's running backs for three seasons and wide receivers for one year, while overseeing the squad's strength and conditioning efforts in addition to his football coaching duties. He then moved on to Oklahoma Baptist in Shawnee for two seasons. He spent the 2013 season as wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator. The following year he was elevated to offensive coordinator, while also mentoring the team's quarterbacks and running backs. After helping coach the running backs as part of a summer internship with the Kansas City Chiefs in the summer of 2014, Johnson filled the role of running backs coach at Tulsa that fall. He later served as running backs coach at Missouri Southern State in Joplin, while also overseeing the punt team. As a player, Johnson was a three-year letterman at fullback at Oklahoma State and was a member of three teams that played in bowl games. He completed his playing career in 2008 at Ouachita Baptist.
Officer arrives in Chicago from Rutgers University, where he currently serves as a graduate assistant, working with the offensive line. Prior to his move to New Brunswick, Officer spent the 2020-22 seasons as an offensive graduate assistant for his alma matter, the University of Pittsburgh. During the 2021 ACC championship campaign, the Panthers averaged a school-record 41.4 points and 486.6 yards per game. Pitt ranked third nationally in scoring and eighth in total offense. A four-year starter on Pitt's offensive line, Officer played in 51 career games for the Panthers from 2014-17, making 48 starts. He was a versatile performer who played both center and guard. As a player, Officer helped pave the way for three 1,000-yard rushing seasons by Pitt backs, including the 2014 campaign when All-American James Conner rumbled for an ACC-leading 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns. In 2016, Officer was the starting center for an offense that averaged 40.9 points per contest, which ranked 10th nationally.
Safford brings nine years of collegiate coaching experience with him to the Bears. He currently serves as the defensive backs coach for Kennesaw State University, a position he was elevated to prior to the 2021 season. In 2022, Safford's defensive backs tied for fourth in turnovers gained (26), 12th in passes intercepted (15) and saw two defensive backs rank in the Top-11 for interceptions per game. During the 2021 season, Safford helped guide KSU to the top-ranked defense in the Big South Conference. He was also instrumental in developing the back end of the defense which led the FCS in red zone defense at 57.6%. Safford originally joined Kennesaw State's staff as the cornerbacks coach in 2019. Prior his arrival in Kennesaw, Safford coached in the same capacity at Mercer University during the 2018 season and the University of West Georgia in 2017. His first collegiate coaching experience came as graduate assistant at Georgia Southern University (2015-16). Prior to Georgia Southern, Safford spent the 2014 season as a defensive backs coach at Chapel Hill High School. Safford played cornerback for Lafayette College for four seasons (2009-12) before finishing his collegiate playing career at Georgia Southern in 2013. In his final season at Lafayette College, Safford served as a team captain.
Anderson returns to the Bears for his second summer as a Bill Walsh Fellow after working with the club in 2022. He makes the return with 12 years of collegiate coaching experience at various stops. A collegiate standout at Wake Forest University, playing running back and safety, Anderson got into coaching as a graduate assistant at WFU in 2010 for one season before joining Illinois State's staff as the safeties coach, a position he held for four seasons (2011-14). In 2015, Anderson coached the defensive backs for St. Francis University (lll.) for one season before serving as the head coach at South Plantation High School (Fla.) for two seasons (2016-17). He then went on to serve as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at the University of Pikeville for three seasons (2018-20) before joining Fayetteville State's staff in 2021, where he currently is the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. In 2022, Anderson was a member of a record-setting season for the Broncos, who went 9-3. Under Anderson's guidance, the Broncos won the CIAA Conference and made a Division II playoff appearance for the program's first time since 2009. After going 8-2 during the 2021 season, FootballScoop nominated Anderson for D2 Coordinator of the Year. The 2021 season was also highlighted by one of Anderson's players, Josh Williams, being drafted in the fourth round (135th overall) of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Anderson earned his master's degree in athletic coaching from the University of West Virginia in 2017 before completing his Master of Business Administration at University of Pikeville in 2021. Anderson has also been named to FootballScoop's 2022 Minority Watch List/Rising Stars as well as the 2022 "Linebacker Coach on the Rise" by Our Coaching Network.
The Chicago Bears have also announced the addition of three new scouting interns who will join the club's veteran minicamp and training camp staffs.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles announced the additions on Monday, naming Matthew McCreight, David Dudeck III and Deron Johnson Jr. to this year's scouting additions.
"We are very excited to welcome new talent to join our scouting staff for our 2023 veteran and training camp sessions," general manager Ryan Poles said. "We are eager to watch these three individuals grow over the course of their time with us and excited to learn from them as well."
McCreight joins the Bears from the United States Football League (USFL), where he currently serves as a scouting assistant. Prior to joining the USFL in March 2023, McCreight gained experience as a group leader at the Reese's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. As a group leader, he was a liaison between players and NFL scouts and assisted in evaluating the tight ends at the Senior Bowl practice, while submitting player reports. Prior to his stint with the Senior Bowl, McCreight assisted his alma mater, Bucknell University, with football recruiting in 2022. He also briefly served as a coaching intern for the Arizona Hotshots Football Team (AAF) in 2019.
A former member of the Bucknell football team, McCreight played in 24 games as a wide receiver for the Bisons. In 2022 as a senior, he was awarded the Bobby Pangburn Memorial Award for commitment, dedication and unqualified friendship. A Cleveland, Ohio native, McCreight attended Valley Christian High School where he lettered in football, soccer and track and field.
Dudeck joins the player personnel staff from Princeton University, where he currently serves as a defensive and special teams quality control coach. In his first year coaching, Dudeck assisted in the weekly implementation of defensive game plans as well as special teams game plans through film breakdown and analysis. A Boston College graduate, Dudeck was a four-year starter (2012-15) and team captain for the Eagles, competing in 44 games and totaling 514 receiving yards with four touchdowns. Dudeck earned a dual degree from Boston College's Carroll School of Management in finance and management & leadership. He also earned the Athletics Director's Award for Academic Achievement all four seasons and most notably was the recipient of the 2015 Scanlan Award, Boston College Football's highest honor.
Stepping away from football briefly after school, Dudeck began a career in finance where he worked for Morgan Stanley as a Financial Advisor. Dudeck returned to football in 2022 and has served in his current position at Princeton for a year and a half.
Johnson arrives in Chicago from Sacramento, Calif., where he currently serves as a substitute teacher for Elk Grove Unified School District. A former college linebacker, Johnson spent time at Tennessee State University (2021-22), American River College (2020) and originally began his collegiate career at Sacramento State University in 2018. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Tennessee State University in 2022. A graduate at Pleasant Grove High School, Johnson earned Honorable Mention All-Delta League in 2016. He also lettered in track and field and basketball.