Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Sports News

Cross joins Redbird football coaching staff

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[March 28, 2012]  NORMAL -- Illinois State head football coach Brock Spack announced the hiring of Sheldon Cross as the new Redbird tight ends and H-backs coach Tuesday. Cross comes to Illinois State, after serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at NCAA Division II New Mexico-Highlands in 2011.

"We believe Sheldon will be a very good fit with our staff and Luke (Huard) and the rest of our staff thought he would be the best mesh for what we need right now," Spack said. "Sheldon has worked our camps in the past and that allowed us to watch him coach and work, which was kind of like an interview. We're very happy to have him and ready to get to work."

Cross fills the spot left by longtime assistant coach Jim Williams, who recently stepped down to pursue a career outside of coaching.

"I'm really excited and grateful that coach Spack has given me this opportunity and proud to be a part of this program," Cross said. "I feel this is one of the top FCS programs in the country and is only going to get better in the very near future. I look forward to getting on the field today and working with our tight ends and H-backs and helping this explosive offensive unit."

With Cross at the helm of the offense, the Cowboys started the 2011 season 4-0 for the first time since 1968. After inheriting an offense that averaged just 10 points per game the previous season, Cross' group averaged 46 points per game through the first four games of the season before injuries to the team's quarterbacks took a toll on the offense. The Cowboys also averaged 29 first downs per game during that stretch, which led the country in that category.

Prior to taking over the offense at New Mexico-Highlands, Cross spent the 2010 season as the offensive graduate assistant at Washington State. In that role, he worked with the tight ends and H-backs for the Cougars and assisted the offensive coordinator with all aspects of the passing game.

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Originally from Tacoma, Wash., Cross had previously served as the head football coach at Interlake High School in Bellevue, Wash. As head coach at Interlake, Cross led his squad to back-to-back playoffs appearances in 2008 and 2009, the first two for the school in 22 seasons. For his efforts, Cross garnered Bellevue Reporter Coach of the Year accolades following both seasons, and was also named Coach of the Year by the Kingco Conference and National Football Coaches Association in 2009.

Prior to taking over as head coach, Cross worked as Interlake's offensive assistant for then-head coach Huard, the current offensive coordinator at Illinois State. Cross also coached quarterbacks at Iowa Wesleyan in 2005 and was the assistant quarterbacks coach at Peru State (Nebraska) in 2004. Cross served as the director of the Jason Gesser Elite Quarterback Camp, and has also coached signal callers at a number of different collegiate camps, including WSU, Washington and Illinois State.

He played quarterback at Iowa Wesleyan, starting for two seasons, and went on to play professionally for the Dresden Monarchs in Germany and the Graz Giants in Austria. Cross attended Stadium High School in Tacoma, where he was named All-Narrows League as a senior. Cross received his bachelor's in psychology from Peru State. Cross and his wife, Catherine, reside in Normal, Ill., with their son, Wyatt.

[Text copied from file received from Michael Williams, Illinois State University]

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