EVANSTON, Ill. — As the team prepares to play a season under an interim head coach, Northwestern is bringing on another assistant to help the program transition to a new era.
This man is going to give David Braun some help on the defensive side of the ball.
Northwestern officially hired D.J. Vokolek as a defensive assistant coach on Friday, a little over three weeks ahead of the Wildcats’ season opener on September 3 against Rutgers.
He’s the second coach added to Braun’s staff since he was named the interim coach, with veteran Skip Holtz coming on as a special assistant to the head coach.
“D.J. brings a wealth of coaching experience to our defensive staff, and I’m thrilled to have him on board,” said Braun in a statement. “Our paths have crossed before, and I’ve witnessed firsthand his dedication and expertise. His track record of success and deep understanding of the game will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our team.”
Vokolek comes to Evanston from Southern Illinois, where he was hired just this offseason as the defensive coordinator for the FCS Salukis. Before that, he spent the 2022 season as Nebraska’s senior defensive quality control coach.
This will be the second time that Braun and Vololek have worked on the same staff, with the pair working at Northern Iowa together in 2017 and 2018. That was a part of a five-season stay with Panthers before his one year with the Cornhuskers and was his second stint at that school, having been there from 2003-2005.
Vokolek started his career as a graduate assistant and linebackers coach for Nebraska-Omaha in 1993. He’s also worked at Wayne State (1996), Missouri State (2006-2014), and Buffalo (2015).
Vokolek arrives to help Braun in a very difficult situation for the Northwestern program, which has had to replace a longtime head coach while also dealing with the fallout of a hazing scandal. It’s put the Wildcats’ entire athletic department in the national spotlight and has also led to a few lawsuits on behalf of former players.