MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State safeties coach Joe Klanderman has been promoted to defensive coordinator, while cornerbacks coach Van Malone has added the titles of assistant head coach and passing game coordinator, head coach Chris Klieman announced Monday.
Klanderman, who has coached all three levels of the defense during his career, will serve as a defensive coordinator for a second time after holding the position from 2007 to 2013 at his alma mater, Minnesota State. He will continue to tutor the Wildcat safeties, as Klieman will search for a new linebackers coach to replace Scottie Hazelton, who left to become the defensive coordinator at Michigan State.
“Joe is one of the best defensive coaches I have ever been around, and he is ready for this role,” Klieman said. “In addition to already having coordinator experience, Joe knows our defense as well as anyone, and it is important to continue to develop our players and keep them in our system. We appreciate what Scottie did for our program this past year and hate to see him leave, but we are excited about our future with Coach Klanderman and the rest of our defensive staff.”
Klanderman and Malone were vital parts of a defensive staff that helped the Wildcats rank first in the nation in third down defense at 28.0%, which was the best by K-State since at least 2003. The Wildcats also ranked 15th nationally in first down defense (224) and put together a No. 2 ranking in the Big 12 in pass defense (202.9 yards per game), their best ranking in the conference since in five seasons. Additionally, K-State allowed just 21.4 points per game in 2019, its best mark since 2003.
“Van is a veteran coach who has immediately had a big impact on our program and student-athletes,” Klieman said. “Not only is he one of the most respected defensive coaches in college football, but his experience, leadership and development of young men is unmatched.”
Under Klanderman’s guidance, Denzel Goolsby earned 2019 Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors, the first Wildcat safety to do so since 2016.
“I’m so appreciative to have the opportunity to expand my role in something much bigger than myself,” Klanderman said. “We’re going to work tirelessly to put a product on the field that Wildcat fans can be proud of. We will continue to push ahead with what we did a year ago and expand upon the foundation that was laid last season.”
Klanderman came to Manhattan from North Dakota State after helping the Bison win four national titles in his five seasons on staff, which included a perfect 15-0 record in 2018. The NDSU defense was a major factor in its undefeated run as the Bison ranked first nationally with 23 interceptions, including six by safety Robbie Grimsley and five by safety James Hendricks.
Overall, the Bison ranked in the top five in scoring defense each of his five years on staff, including a No. 2 ranking in 2017 (11.6 points per game) and No. 3 spot in 2018 (12.6). His secondary has also helped NDSU rank in the top 11 in passing yards allowed in four of the five years, with a No. 3 national ranking in 2017 (147.9 yards per game).
Malone hit the ground running in 2019 by tutoring AJ Parker, a junior who picked up Honorable Mention All-Big 12 accolades despite missing the final five games of the year due to injury. At the time of his injury, Parker was tied for second in the Big 12 and 17th nationally in interceptions.
“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Malone said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled for Coach Klieman to give me these responsibilities, but I also understand the challenge that they hold. We came here to win championships – and it’s on the right trajectory – but we all have to be better and give more. This expanded role puts me in a great position to help us do that.”
Malone came to Manhattan after one year working as a defensive quality control coach at Mississippi State, helping the Bulldogs earn an 8-4 record and a No. 1 national ranking in scoring defense and a No. 3 mark in total defense.
Prior to Mississippi State, Malone was the defensive coordinator at SMU for three seasons, including the 2017 campaign when he was named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National FBS Assistant Coach of the Year. That year, he tutored three All-AAC performers, including Justin Lawler, who was the conference’s leader in sacks.
Malone coached Lawler to his first All-AAC honor in 2016, a year he was joined on the list by cornerback Horace Richardson and safety Darrion Millines. Malone’s 2016 defense was statistically one of the 10 most improved in college football. The Mustangs ranked seventh nationally in interceptions per game and forced 26 turnovers overall. In fact, two of Malone’s three defenses finished in the top 20 in defensive turnovers.