UNI football: Rick Nelson and Keelon Brookins rejoin coaching staff, Tate promoted
Football 01/02/2023 13:00:00
The Panthers are adding two new coaches to the 2023 staff at offensive line and defensive backs. Drew Tate Becomes Full-Time Staff Story Links
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — UNI football head coach Mark Farley has announced a pair of additions to the Panther coaching staff for the 2023 season, as well as a promotion to a current member of the personal.
The Panthers are welcoming former longtime offensive line coach Rick Nelson back to Cedar Falls, as well as former UNI defensive back Keelon Brookins to coach the Panthers’ cornerbacks. Tight ends coach Drew Tate was also promoted to full-time coaching staff.
RICK NELSON – Offensive line
Nelson is entering his second stint as UNI’s offensive line coach after spending the previous eight years as a physical education teacher and head football coach at Ankeny High School, where he won a championship. ‘Class 4A status in 2020. In his first go-around with the Panthers from 2000-2015, Nelson coached 22 FCS All-Americans and 29 All-Conference selections.
UNI made the FCS playoffs 8 times during Nelson’s first term with two trips to the national semi-finals (2001, 2008), an appearance in the 2005 national championship game and an undefeated regular season in 2007. Two UNI line players who would reach the NFL under Nelson, including Brandon Keith, a 2008 7th round pick by the Arizona Cardinals, and Austin Howard, a free agent signed in 2010 by the Philadelphia Eagles who played 9 seasons in the league.
Prior to his time at Cedar Falls, Nelson coached for 11 seasons at Southwestern Missouri State (known today as Missouri State). While in Springfield, Nelson helped the Bears set 35 offensive records and saw six players earn All-American honors. 20 athletes from Southwestern Missouri State were recognized by the All-Gateway Conference, two of whom were named to the conference’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. Nelson also coached Jason Whittle during his tenure with the Bears, who played 11 seasons in the NFL with the Giants, Buccaneers, Vikings and Bills.
Nelson, a native of Urbandale, Iowa and a graduate of UNI in 1986, is married to his wife Jamie. They have two children, Nick and Wes.
KEELON BROOKINS – Defensive back
Brookins returns to UNI for his second stint with the Panthers after coaching defensive backs at Kent State in 2022. In his only season with the Golden Eagles, Brookins coached All-MAC Third Team defensive back Nico Bolden for a breakout season in which he led Kent in total tackles (103).
Brookins played the first three years of his college career at Wisconsin before transferring to UNI ahead of the 2017 season. He recorded 33 tackles with 6 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and a pair of interceptions to earn league honors. MVFC All-Newcomer Team. Brookins ended his college career by helping the Panthers advance to the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Brookins joined the UNI staff in 2018 in defence, helping coach 9 cornerbacks from all conferences in his first term. The Panthers reached the FCS playoffs three times in his first four years on the staff, including a trip to the FCS quarterfinals in 2019.
Brookins is from St. Paul, Minnesota and is married to his wife Olivia. They have one child, Hendrix.
DREW TATE – Tight Ends
Tate joined the UNI staff in 2022 as a part-time coach working with Panther tight ends. In his first season with the purple and gold, he helped Panther tight ends tally 33 receptions, 470 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns as part of UNI’s leading MVFC offensive unit.
A native of Baytown, Texas, Tate played three seasons as a quarterback at the University of Iowa (2004-06), earning first-team All-Big Ten honors with over 2,700 yards per passing and 20 touchdowns en route to a share of the Big Ten Championship in 2004. Tate is best known for his game-winning 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway in the final play of the 2005 Capital One Bowl, where the Hawkeyes beat defending national champion LSU, 30-25.
After a brief stint on the St. Louis Rams roster in 2007, Tate played 11 CFL seasons, winning two Gray Cup championships with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2007) and Calgary Stampeders (2014). . Tate started coaching in 2018 as a defensive analyst at Coastal Carolina, before returning to the CFL in 2019 as a quarterbacks coach with the BC Lions. He briefly coached receivers in the short-lived Spring League in 2020, before working as a quarterbacks coach at UT Martin in 2021.