ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Rockford University athletic department is pleased to announce the promotion of defensive coordinator J.T. Zimmerman to head football coach effective immediately. He takes over for Jim Schroeder, who has accepted the head football coaching position at Benedictine University.
"I could not be more excited to announce the promotion of our defensive coordinator, J.T. Zimmerman, to the position of head football coach," athletic director Jason Mulligan stated. "J.T. has proven to be an outstanding coach and recruiter over the past four years. His preparation and organization have been the backbone of the program, and it is clear that our team is thrilled about him getting this opportunity. The talent and size of our roster has improved each year and a lot of that is due to J.T's hard work. We look forward to seeing our football program take the next step.
"I am honored and excited for the opportunity to become the head football coach at Rockford University," Zimmerman stated. "I strongly believe that with the foundation we have built here over the last four years, and the recruiting class that we are currently working with, there is no reason not to have high expectations for the upcoming season and beyond."
Over the past four years, Zimmerman's defenses have consistently been in the top three in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference in multiple categories each season. Rockford led the NACC in total defense, pass defense and fumble recoveries, and finished second in points per game and rushing defense in 2015. This past season, the Regents ranked second in total defense, rushing defense and defensive touchdowns and third in points per game. Rockford also had one of its best overall years in a decade last season. The Regents had more overall and conference wins this past season than in any single year since 2007. Rockford also defeated both Lakeland University and Concordia University Wisconsin for the first time in program history.
The Regents have also seen a lot of individual success on the defensive side of the ball since Zimmerman's arrival. Dating to the 2015 season, the RU defense has had 11 all-conference performers, five NACC Defensive Players of the Week and one D3football.com all-region selection. The Regents have also had 32 football players named NACC Scholar-Athletes over the past three years.
Before joining the Regents coaching staff in 2015, Zimmerman spent a season as the defensive backs coach at Western New England. During his tenure there, Zimmerman led one of the top secondaries in the country. His unit finished the 2014 season ranked eighth in Division III pass efficiency defense, ninth in interceptions and nineteenth in passing yards allowed. Zimmerman also tutored the conference's leader in interceptions.
Prior to coaching at Western New England, Zimmerman spent a total of six seasons at Benedictine, both a player and an assistant coach. Zimmermann was a four-year linebacker for the Eagles, before joining the coaching ranks. After the conclusion of his playing career, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach. In 2012 he served as the defensive line coach before moving to coach the defensive backs for the 2013 season.
"I would like to thank Director of Athletics Jason Mulligan and the rest of the administration for this great opportunity," Zimmerman added. "I would also like to thank Jim Schroeder for bringing me here as his defensive coordinator for the last four years. Now I am looking forward to taking this next step in my career as a head coach at the collegiate level. Rockford is a very special place, and I am blessed to be able to continue working with a great group of student-athletes and an awesome coaching staff every day."
"I would like to thank Coach Schroeder for his time here at Rockford University," Mulligan added. I wish him and his family all the best moving forward."
Schroeder left Rockford after spending four seasons as the school's head football coach. During his time at Rockford, the Regents had 32 NACC Scholar-Athletes, 25 All-NACC performers, 11 NACC Players of the Week, one all-region selection and one All-American. Rockford also tied its highest ever finish in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference in 2017, with a fifth place finish.
Rockford will open its 2019 season on the road on Saturday, September 7 at MacMurray. The Regents are scheduled to kick off the home portion of their schedule on Saturday, October 5 against Wisconsin Lutheran.