The senior member of the UMD football family, John Steger embarks on his 18th season -- in his second tour of duty -- as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator in 2018. He first thrived in that role for 11 years before departing in 2009 for Southern Illinois University, where he served as the Salukis’ inside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator for a pair of years, prior to returning to the Bulldog fold.
Under Steger’s expert watch, UMD has consistently finished among the league and NCAA II leaders in a number of defensive statistical categories. That includes in 2017 when the Bulldogs topped the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference -- and were second nationally -- in third down conversion defense (24.8 percent) as well as fewest first downs allowed (155, which ranked third nationally) and red zone defense (.600, the second best mark in the country). Over the course of the season, UMD also went over 16 consecutive quarters without giving up a point, a school-record run that stretched from Oct. 7 to Nov. 4. In 2008, Steger was chosen as a finalist for the footballscoop.com NCAA Coordinator of the Year Award after the Bulldogs allowed just four defensive touchdowns over the course of their four-game NCAA II national title run. During his 17 years at UMD, he has helped produce 14 All-Americans and 40 different All-NSIC/North Central Conference first team selections.
Steger joined the UMD football program in 1999 after working the previous 11 seasons as a defensive coordinator at two NCAA III schools. He served a seven-year stint at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and in his final year there, the Blugolds topped the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in total defense, rushing defense, and scoring defense. For his efforts, the Wisconsin High School Coaches Association chose him as their 1998 College Assistant Coach of the Year.
Steger began his coaching career at Sul Ross State University where, for four seasons (1988-91), he was employed as the Lobo’s defensive coordinator after doing two years of graduate assistantship duty at that Texas institution.
A native of Dubuque, Iowa, Steger started a pair of seasons at linebacker while attending Loras College (Iowa) and co-captained the Duhawks as a senior in 1984.
Steger received a B.A. degree in both physical education and business from Loras College in 1985 and a Master’s degree in education from Sul Ross State three years later. He and his wife, Barb, make their home in Duluth.
(Defensive Line / Outside Linebackers / Special Teams Coordinator)
The 2018 season marks Trey Dill’s eighth year at UMD, but the first season he'll handle the special teams and outside linebacker coaching roles. From 2011-17, Dill supervised the Bulldogs' first line of defense (he'll continue to do that) as well as their overall recruiting efforts . During that time, he worked with the likes of two-time All-NSIC selections Jonathan Harden (a 2015 USA College Football All-American), Jacob Brusehaver, Buma Foncham, Karl Finkel, Nick Thorpe and Chris Vandervest,
Dill previously served a two-season appointment as the inside linebackers coach at intrastate rival St. Cloud State University and helped groom a pair of All-NSIC performers during his time with the Huskies (who qualified for the 2010 NCAA II playoffs). He signed on with the St. Cloud State staff fresh off a four-year playing career as a reserve linebacker at that same institution.
A two-time member of the North Central Conference Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll, Dill is currently completing a Master’s degree in Sports Administration from St. Cloud State, where he graduated in 2008 with a B.S. degree in marketing.
The St. Cloud Tech High School alumnus and his wife, Holly, reside in Duluth with their son, Tucker. His father, Tracy Dill, is the director of intercollegiate athletics at Bemidji State University.
Assistant Coach (Defensive Secondary / Recruiting Coordinator)
Nate Johnson, who spent the past nine seasons coaching with three different NCAA Division II and III football programs, was hired as UMD's defensive secondary coach and recruiting coordinator this March.
Johnson previously supervised the safeties at Central Washington University for three years, including this past fall when the Wildcats posted a 11-0 regular season record, captured the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship and secured the Super Region Four's No. 1 seed in the NCAA II playoffs. During his time in Ellensburg, Wash., Johnson helped produce five All-GNAC honorees and one D2CCA All-Region pick (in Jackson Huerta) while Central Washington went 23-10 overall.
Prior to joining the Wildcat staff, Johnson served three seasons (2012-14) as Gustavus Adolphus College's defensive backs coach. He got his start in the collegiate coaching profession at his alma mater, St. Cloud State University, taking on a graduate assistant (wide receivers coach) role from 2009-2011. In Johnson's final year with that program, the Huskies were Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference co-champions (sharing that title with UMD and Minnesota State University-Mankato) and qualified for the NCAA II playoffs for the second straight time.
A native of Austin, Minn., Johnson culminated his four-year playing career at St. Cloud State in 2008 by attaining All-NSIC status as a second team wide receiver. In addition to lettering four times in football, he also competed for four seasons with the baseball Huskies.
Johnson graduated from St. Cloud State in 2010 with a B.A. Degree in English studies and is currently working on his Master's Degree in sport management.
He and his wife, Livja, reside in the Duluth area.
Assistant Coach (Defensive Secondary)
A former two-time NCAA Division III All-American cornerback, Marcus McLin will monitor the troops at that same position in his first year as a member of the Bulldog coaching staff this fall.
McLin spent the previous two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Kettle Moraine High School, one year after sharing the defensive coordinator duties another Wisconsin prep program, Delavan-Darien High School (his alma mater).
The Cleveland, Ohio, native lettered four seasons -- starting the final three of those -- at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He was a three-time All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honoree and as a senior in 2014 attained his second consecutive D3Football.com All-American (third team) citation. In addition patrolling the defensive secondary, McLin also returned punts and kicks for a Warhawk club that captured NCAA III national titles during his time in Whitewater (2011, 2013 and 2014).
McLin earned a B.A. degree in communication (with emphasis on public relations) from Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2016.