Gophers set to hire Corey Hetherman as new defensive coordinator

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The Gophers football program is expected to hire Corey Hetherman as its new defensive coordinator, two sources confirmed to the Pioneer Press on Monday.

Hetherman finished his second season as linebackers coach at Rutgers in 2023. He will replace Joe Rossi, who took the same job with Michigan State in mid-December.

Hetherman is considered very sharp and a strong teacher who is commended for advancing in the profession the hard way, one source shared.

Rutgers and Minnesota’s defensive systems have a lot of similarities and crossover — from head coaches Greg Schiano and P.J. Fleck to assistants, including former U safeties coach Joe Harasymiak who moved up to be Rutgers’ DC in 2022.

Fleck said he was going to vet coordinator candidates into the first week of January, and Heatherman rose to the top of the list as the process played out.

Hetherman was defensive coordinator at James Madison from 2019-21 and at Maine from 2016-18. At James Madison, his defense ranked top eight in FCS in both total defense and scoring defense all three seasons. In 2019, they had the No. 1 total defense, allowing 270 yards per game, and advanced to the FCS championship game before falling to North Dakota State, 28-20.

Hetherman was named to the American Football Coaches Assocation’s 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute in 2020 and earned AFCA FCS Assistant Coach of the Year in 2021.

The Oxford, Mass., native attended Fitchburg (Mass.) State, where he played quarterback and was a team captain at the Division III school. That’s where he got his coaching start in 2006 as quarterbacks coach. He then worked in European leagues and also at Pace, Old Dominion, Western New England College, Northeastern, Springfield College and other stops.

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