ProStar Coaching - John Wristen
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John Wristen COACHING EXPERIENCE


  • 2015 Mile High Sports Coach of the Year
  • 2014 NCAA DII National Champion
  • 2014 AFCA DII National Coach of the Year
  • 5-Time Conference Coach of the Year
  • 2011 American Football Monthly Coach of the Year
  • 6 Consecutive Top 10 Finishes (2011-15)
  • 77-11 Record since 2010
  • 88-21 overall record at CSU-Pueblo
  • 2011 DII National Coach of the Year (American Football Monthly)
  • 2nd longest regular season winning streak in DII history (42 games, 10/23/2010-10/11/2014)




    In just seven seasons, John Wristen turned the defunct Colorado State University-Pueblo football program into NCAA Division II National Champions. With a program record 14-1 season in 2014, Wristen guided the ThunderWolves to the national championship game where they defeated then-No. 1 Minnesota State University, Mankato, 13-0.


    In 2016, Wristen's ThunderWolves earned a share of the RMAC Championship for the fifth time in the past six seasons, after finishing the year with 6 straight wins. Over the course of that final stretch, the defense did not allow a team to score more than 14 points in any game. In addition, the 2016 team featured six players earning first team All-RMAC honors, and another 5 earning second team honors.


    In 2015, Wristen, a five-time RMAC Coach of the Year honoree (2011-15), guided the Pack to its third appearance in the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals in four years. CSU-Pueblo went 12-2 in 2015 and collected its fifth straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title in an undefeated (9-0) fashion, the Pack's fourth perfect conference season in five years. Following the season, he was honored as Mile High Sports Coach of the Year.


    Wristen was named 2014 American Football Coaches Association Division II Coach of the Year, 2014 D2Football.com Coach of the Year, 2014 Rawlings/American Football Monthly Division II Coach of the Year and Don Hansen Division II Coach of the Year. He was also selected as CaptainU College Coach of the Year and Don Hansen Super Region Four Coach of the Year.


    Wristen was named 2011 National Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly Magazine and in the same year was AFCA Regional Coach of the Year.


    Hired in 2007 with the daunting task of re-starting the football program from scratch, Wristen has accumulated an 88-21 (.807) overall and 84-15 (.848) RMAC record since the first season in 2008. With a 69-8 (.896) record since 2010, the CSU-Pueblo football team is the winningest NCAA Division II program of the decade.


    In 2015, the ThunderWolves earned the No. 4 seed in Super Region Four to post their fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Playoffs. The 12 victories marked their third 12-plus win season in the last four years.


    The ThunderWolves hosted No. 5-seed University of Indianapolis in the first round and won 27-14, then took to the road for their first-ever true road game in the playoffs. The Pack traveled to No. 1-seed Midwestern State University and downed the Mustangs 26-17 to earn a spot in the quarterfinals for the third time in the last four years. CSU-Pueblo suffered a 31-7 loss to No. 6-seed Grand Valley State University


    Wristen guided the ThunderWolves to their fourth straight RMAC Championship in 2014, as the Pack posted an 8-1 record to share the title with Colorado School of Mines. The ThunderWolves earned the No. 2 seed in Super Region Four to post their fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Playoffs. The ThunderWolves finished the season with a perfect 6-0 record against nationally ranked opponents and closed the season No. 1 in the American Coaches Association Poll.


    A former all-conference quarterback at CSU-Pueblo from 1980-83, Wristen faced the monumental task of forging a football program from the ground up when he accepted the job in July 2007. He arrived at CSU-Pueblo with no coaching staff and no players, given the job of building CSU-Pueblo’s first football team since 1984 in just a 365-day window.


    Unbelievably, it only took three years to turn the team into Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champions, rising all the way to a national number-one ranking and the nation’s top seed in the 2011 NCAA Division II Playoffs. For his efforts, in addition to his national coach of the year distinction, he was one of five national finalists for the Liberty Mutual Division II Coach of the Year award as well as the Regional Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches’ Association and Don Hansen’s Football Gazette, Colorado Coach of the Year by the National Football Foundation, and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.


    He followed it up with yet another 11-0 regular season and RMAC championship in 2012. The ThunderWolves were ranked #1 in the nation for the final five weeks of the regular season, marking the second straight season in which the team entered the NCAA Division II Playoffs with the nation’s top ranking. In doing so, CSU-Pueblo became just the second team in the history of the AFCA/USA Today Poll (since 2000) to finish two consecutive regular seasons ranked #1, joining Grand Valley State, which did so from 2005-08. Additionally, in 2012, CSU-Pueblo broke through the glass ceiling by winning its first playoff game and finishing the season ranked sixth in the nation.


    In 2013, CSU-Pueblo remained ranked in the top ten throughout the regular season and turning in yet another 11-0 regular season. In doing so, CSU-Pueblo became just the second school in Division II history to have three consecutive 11-0 regular seasons, and ran its regular season winning streak to 37 games and counting, which is the second-longest regular season streak in Division II history.


    Wristen returned to Pueblo after coaching the previous 17 years in the NCAA Division I ranks at the University of Colorado, Northwestern University and UCLA.


    During the 2006 season, Wristen served as the special teams and tight ends coach at UCLA. Prior to UCLA, he served his second of two stints at CU from 1999-2006. He helped guide the Buffaloes to four Big 12 North Division Championships and the 2001 Big 12 Title. He coached the tight ends, kickoff and punt teams, and was given the additional responsibility of recruiting coordinator in 2003.


    From 1991-1999, Wristen served as the running back, kickoff return and punt team coach at Northwestern University. The Wildcats won back-to-back Big 10 Titles in 1995 and 1996 during Wristen’s tenure, and he coached Heisman Trophy finalist Darnell Autry. Northwestern received the 1997 NCAA Graduation Award for graduating 100 percent of its undergraduate student-athletes.


    Wristen’s career in Division I football started in 1990 as a graduate assistant at CU (1990 National Champions), working with the quarterbacks and running backs. He also served as the offensive coordinator at Fort Lewis College, head football and girls basketball coach at Rocky Ford (Colo.) High School, and assistant football coach at Weslaco (Texas) High School.


    EDUCATION
    Wristen earned an education degree from Southern Colorado in 1984. He received his Master of Arts degree from Adams State College in 1988.

    PERSONAL
    John and his wife, Rochelle, have four children: Bailey, C.T., JoVanna and Dex.
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    COACHING HISTORY
    Year Team Title Head Coach
    2007-Present Colorado State - Pueblo Head Coach
    2006 UCLA Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends Karl Dorrell
    1999-2005 Colorado Tight Ends/Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator Gary Barnett
    1992-1998 Northwestern Running Backs Gary Barnett
    1990-91 Colorado Graduate Assistant Bill McCartney
    1988-89 Fort Lewis College Quarterbacks/Receivers Sheldon Keresey
    1986-87 Rocky Ford HS (CO) Head Coach

    NOTABLE PLAYERS COACHED BY WRISTEN
    Name Pos. (team) Achievements
    Cameron McDondle RB (CSU-Pueblo) Harlon Hill Trophy Finalist
    2-time D2 All American
    Morgan Fox DE (CSU-Pueblo) Gene Upshaw Award Runner-Up
    D2 All-American
    National Leader in QB Sacks
    Darius Allen DE (CSU-Pueblo) 2 Time D2 Defensive Player of the Year (Gene Upshaw Award)
    2-time All American
    Small College Defense Lineman of the Year (Cliff Harris Award)
    Ryan Jensen OT (CSU-Pueblo) All-American, NFL Draft Pick (Baltimore)
    Justin Medlock K (UCLA) All-American
    Daniel Graham TE (CU) All-American, NFL Draft Pick (New England)
    Mason Crosby K (CU) All-American, NFL Draft Pick (Green Bay)
    Darnell Autry RB (NW) Heisman Trophy Finalist
     

    PLAYING EXPERIENCE

    As the starting quarterback at then-University of Southern Colorado, Wristen was an honorable mention All-American quarterback, guiding USC to its only NAIA National Playoff appearance in 1983. He graduated as USC’s all-time leader in passing yards (3,283) and touchdown passes (26). In 1982, Wristen led the NAIA in passing efficiency with a 182.5 rating as a junior.

    After graduating, Wristen signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos for training camp.



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