Joe Rossi enters his first season as defensive coordinator after spending the last two seasons as special teams coordinator at Rutgers. Rossi directed one of the nation’s top special teams units over his first two seasons “On the Banks.” In 2013, Rutgers scored four special teams touchdowns, including two kickoff returns and a punt return touchdown. True freshman Janarion Grant earned All-AAC Second Team honors as a return specialist.
In 2012, the Scarlet Knights put together a strong special team unit, ranking first in the nation with blocked eight kicks, ninth in kickoff return yardage defense (18.09) and 34th in kickoff return average (23.21). He also assisted with the fourth-ranked scoring defense (14.2 points per game) in the nation.
Under Rossi’s tutelage, kick returner Jeremy Deering ranked third in the BIG EAST and among the national leaders in kickoff returns in 2012. Rossi also oversaw the development of two first-year place-kickers in true freshman Kyle Federico and redshirt freshman Nick Borgese who combined for 11 made field goals last season.
Rossi came to Rutgers after working along side former RU defensive coordinator Robb Smith at Maine (2007-08). Rossi, who coached at Maine from2007-11, was promoted to defensive coordinator following Smith’s departure to Rutgers after the 2008 season.
Maine annually had one of the top defensive units in the Football Championship Subdivision under Rossi’s watch. In 2011, the Black Bears ranked 26th nationally in sacks, 31st in pass defense and 25th in pass efficiency defense.
In 2010, Rossi helped develop the Maine linebackers and secondary into two of the best positional units in the CAA. Linebacker Donte Dennis collected All-CAA honors for the second straight year and ranked sixth in the conference with 108 tackles.
In his first season as defensive coordinator in 2009, Rossi’s unit totaled 19 interceptions (second in the CAA), led by All-CAA defensive back Steven Baker.
Prior to his promotion as defensive coordinator, Rossi directed Maine’s special teams in 2007 and 2008. During those two seasons, the Black Bears totaled 16 kickoff returns of 30 yards or more. In 2007, punter Kash Kiefer set a school record with an 82-yard punt at Villanova.
Before arriving at Maine, Rossi coached six seasons at Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., including the final four years as defensive coordinator. In 2006, Thiel led the President’s Athletic Conference in scoring defense, total defense, rush defense and pass defense.
In 2005, he was instrumental in leading Thiel to the PAC championship, as the squad made an appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The Rossi File
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Alma Mater: Allegheny, 2001
Birth Date: 4/5/79
2012 – Rutgers (special teams coordinator/defensive assistant)
2009-11 – Maine (defensive coordinator)
2007-08 – Maine (special teams coordinator)
2001-06 – Thiel College (Pa.) (defensive coordinator)
Four-year starter and three-time All-Conference performer at Allegheny College, serving as team captain in 2000.