Mike Nelson enters his fifth year at North Texas where will be in charge of Mean Green defensive linemen.
The Mean Green defense sacked the quarterback 19 times last season and had 46 sacks in the last two seasons. Under Nelson, K.C. Obi and Aaron Bellazin both had career seasons, with a combined 10.5 sacks in 2012. The pair also ranked first and second on the team in tackles for loss last season, combining for 19.5 tackles for a loss.
The North Texas defense allowed the fewest points per game in a single season since 2006 and held four opponents to 14 points or less for the first time since 2003.
Nelson oversaw a rebirth of the Mean Green pass rush in 2011 as North Texas had 27 sacks, the most since 2002. The Mean Green defensive line accounted for 17 sacks and Brandon Akpunku had a career-high 7.5 sacks on the season.
Nelson coached Akpunku in his three years on the defensive line and he finished his career ranked sixth all-time at North Texas with 17 sacks. Akpunku was named second-team all-conference for the first time in 2011.
The Mean Green defensive line also accounted for 29.5 tackles for loss, forced four fumbles and had two blocked kicks in 2011.
In 2010, six of his players had at least one sack and three players, Akpunku, Shavod Atkinson and Kelvin Jackson, each had four sacks.
In 2009, six of his defensive linemen registered at least a half-sack, including Akpunku, whose six sacks ranked among the Sun Belt Conference leaders.
Nelson brings a wealth of experience, having been an assistant coach for 41 years, including 30 coaching the defensive line. Nelson has a track record of success throughout his extensive career, which includes stops at Virginia, Ball State, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas State, Stanford, Rutgers, Oregon State and Iowa State along with four years of coaching in the Canadian Football League.
He has coached in eight bowl games, most recently the 2005 Houston Bowl when he was the defensive line coach at Iowa State.
Nelson came to North Texas from San Diego State where he spent the 2008 season after joining the Aztecs from the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League. His longest tenure as a coach came at Iowa State, where he was the defensive line coach from 1997-2006.
During his time with the Cyclones he coached in five bowl games and tutored five all-Big 12 Conference selections. In 2003, Nelson helped Iowa State defensive end Jason Berryman earn the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and in 2005 he helped Nick Leaders earn first team all-Big 12 honors. Current NFL player Reggie Hayward also played for Nelson at Iowa State.
Under Nelson's tutelage, the 2005 Iowa State defensive front allowed just 102 yards per game rushing, which ranked 12th in the nation. His 1998 defensive line recorded 32 quarterback sacks, still an Iowa State record.
Nelson began his career at Southern Illinois in 1969. He coached outside linebackers at Wisconsin from 1978-82 and helped the Badgers to bowl appearances in the Garden State Bowl and the Independence Bowl. He also coached in the 1991 Aloha Bowl while coaching the defensive line for head coach Dennis Green at Stanford.
The Chicago native played both football and hockey at the University of Dayton, where he earned his B.S. degree in physical education in 1969. He also earned his M.S. degree in physical education from Southern Illinois in 1970. Nelson and his wife Betsy have three sons, Kurt (Joann), Eric and Mark along with five grandchildren: Jack (15), Tommy (13), Mary (10), Ann (7), and Elizabeth (5).