By Rob Kiser
For former Piqua High School and University of Dayton standout quarterback Kevin Johns, this could have been one of his toughest off-seasons — instead, Johns feels like he “hit one out of the park” to use baseball terminology.
Through no fault of his own — which is often the case with assistant coaches in the college game — Johns found himself out of a job after six years at Indiana University — the last three as offensive coordinator — due to a head coaching change.
Instead, Johns is excited about the next stop in his successful coaching career — at Western Michigan.
“It is a crazy time right now,” Johns said from his car on his way to a recruiting stop as the Broncos offensive coordinator. “I am trying to put an offensive staff together, meeting all our current players and making sure we have the best recruiting class possible.”
And there is a lot to be excited about.
Western Michigan is coming off a 13-0 regular season and Johns is excited to have the opportunity to continue that success with new coach Tim Lester.
“I am really appreciative of coach Lester for giving me this opportunity,” Johns said. “It is a great to be going to one of the best — if not the best program in the MAC (Mid-American Conference).”
After playing on some very successful teams at Piqua, Johns guided the University of Dayton to a 20-1 record in his two seasons as coach there.
After getting a bachelor’s degree from Dayton and master’s from Northwestern, Johns began his coaching career at Richmond in the 2002-03 seasons.
He then coaches at Northwestern from 2004-10 at Northwestern, holding various titles on the offensive staff.
Johns then moved on to Indiana, where the staff took a program that was 1-11 the yer before they arrived to being a consistent winner and going to back-to-back bowl games.
“It is unfortunate the way it ended,” Johns said about Kevin Wilson being removed from the head coaching position. “But, I am really proud of those players and what we accomplished. Especially considering they were 1-11 the year before we got there.”
And while there are some similarities with this move, there are also some key differences.
“I have been through meeting new people and going through that experience,” Johns said. “This is a little different though in that Western Michigan was 13-0 last season. So, I think that expectations are a lot higher.”
That makes the next few months critical.
The first step is completing the recruiting process that leads up to signing day in the first week of February and getting to know the current players.
Johns feels having Lester as head coach has been a real asset for the program.
Lester is a former standout quarterback for Western Michigan and was an assistant there for a short time. He was most recently quarterbacks coach at Purdue.
“I think the transition process is much easier with coach Lester,” Johns said about talking to prospective recruits. “Not only did he play here, he was a great player here. And he was also an assistant coach here. So, it is an easy sell.”
Johns knows what they accomplish in the spring will be critical.
“It is going to be very important,” he said. “Getting to know the players and get used to working with our staff. We have put together a great staff. And just putting everything together.”
Johns and his wife Krista — along with his sons Logan and Tyler (twins) and Carter are excited to be part of the Bronco community.
“Everybody I have met is great,” Johns said. “It has gone better than I expected. My family and I are excited to relocate to Michigan and start the next chapter. It is great to say in the midwest and be close to my family. I feel like I have hit a ‘home run’.”
And as Western Michigan will soon learn, so have the Broncos.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.