Kyle Nystrom named new Wildcats football head coach

MARQUETTE, Mich. Kyle Nystrom grew up around the Northern Michigan football program.

Nystrom was in fifth grade when his father, Buck, began his first stint as an assistant coach on the Wildcat staff in 1975. From that moment on, Northern Michigan gained a special place in his heart.

Tuesday afternoon, Nystrom was announced as the 22nd head coach of the Northern Michigan football program, giving him the opportunity to return home to Marquette and rebuild the program that defined his childhood.

“We are humbled and appreciate this opportunity to return to Northern Michigan,” Nystrom said. “We look forward to rejoining the Marquette community and the Upper Peninsula. We are eager to start coaching and working with the Northern Michigan football team. We are very much looking forward to being with our players and teaching them our philosophy and installing our plans for development.”

Since those days on the sidelines of Memorial Field, Nystrom has amassed nearly 30 years of coaching experience and cultivated strong recruiting ties throughout the Midwest. He spent the past two seasons at Ferris State and was elevated to co-defensive coordinator before the 2016 campaign.

This year, the Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA tournament semifinals for only the second time in program history after downing Midwestern State and Colorado Mines in Big Rapids and then stunning Grand Valley State, 47-32, in Allendale, Mich. Two of Nystrom’s linebackers earned all-GLIAC recognition for their performance.

In 2015, Nystrom was charged with coaching the defensive backs. That season, Ferris State went unbeaten in regular season play en route to its second-straight GLIAC Championship. The Bulldogs also won their first NCAA playoff game in 19 years, dispatching Texas A&M Commerce, 48-30, in the opening round.

Before his stint on the Ferris State staff, Nystrom served as an assistant coach at Central Michigan from 2010 to 2014 and was tabbed as the interim head coach when Dan Enos departed at the end of the 2014 campaign. In 2014, he helped lead the Chippewas to an appearance in the inaugural Bahamas Bowl. He also helped Central Michigan win the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Nystrom, who worked primarily with the linebackers, guided four all-Mid-American Conference selections, Shamari Benton (2013), Justin Cherocci (2013), Matt Berning (2010) and Nick Bellore (2010), while in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Bellore, a three-time all-MAC first team pick, went on to become a key special teams player and backup linebacker for the New York Jets.

Before spending the 2009 season as a defensive coordinator at Fort Hays State, Nystrom served as an assistant head coach and defensive running game coordinator at North Dakota State from 2006 to 2009. During his time in Fargo, N.D., he coached the linebackers, including 2007 All-American and 2008 NFL Draft pick Joe Mays.

In 2005, Nystrom was an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at DePauw. From 2002 to 2004, he guided the linebackers at Texas Christian. In his first season on the Horned Frogs’ staff, Nystrom coached LaMarcus McDonald, an All-American and the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.

Before his time at Texas Christian, Nystrom spent 13 seasons at Western Michigan. During his final six campaigns, he served as the special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach. In 1999 and 2000, he helped the Broncos reach the Mid-American Conference Championship game.

Nystrom was a graduate assistant at Northern Michigan in 1988 and had the opportunity to work with his father, who was a year into his second stint as an assistant coach. His coaching career began as a student assistant at Michigan State in 1983

Nystrom graduated from Michigan State in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. He and his wife, Cherise, have three children, Logan, Tellena and Eva.

Nystrom will be formally introduced at a press conference on Friday, January 6.