Gophers hiring Rutgers LB coach as new defensive coordinator

A month after losing defensive coordinator Joe Rossi to Michigan State, the Gophers football program has selected his replacement and a new special teams coordinator.

KSTP Sports confirmed on Monday that Corey Hetherman will leave his position at Rutgers to lead the program’s defense. The program has since confirmed the hiring.

Hetherman has spent the past two seasons as the linebackers coach for Rutgers after leading one of the nation’s best defenses for James Madison from 2019-2021. He also was an associate head coach and won the AFCA FCS Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2021.

He’ll now be tasked with leading a unit that had been a strength for the team for many years but struggled last season, in part due to injuries and losing some leaders to graduation.

The Gophers have had eight players selected in the NFL Draft since 2019 and will likely add to that this spring.

Additionally, the team is adding Bob Ligashesky as the new special teams coordinator. He brings 12 years of NFL coaching experience — where he overlapped with Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck on the 2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff — on top of extensive experience at the college level, where he most recently served as Syracuse’s special teams coordinator.

“I am excited to welcome Corey and his wife, Julie, and Bob and his wife, Shelley, and their daughter, Sydney, to Minnesota,” Fleck said. “These are two elite men and coaches who are passionate about developing the entire student-athlete, and I know they will make our young people better on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”