UM hires John Baxter as special teams coordinator

The Detroit News
John Baxter coached at University of Southern California from 2010-2013

Former Southern Cal associate head coach and special teams coordinator John Baxter has been hired as Michigan's special teams coordinator, the university announced today.

"John Baxter has long been considered one of the premier special teams coordinators in the country and I am thrilled to have him on our staff," UM coach Jim Harbaugh said. "His special teams units have consistently been a force to be reckoned with."

During Baxter's four-year run at USC, the Trojans excelled in a number of special teams categories and a slew of his players collected national accolades.

In 2013, USC ranked second in the nation in blocked punts (three) and fourth in blocked kicks (six).

The Trojans also scored on three punt-return touchdowns and allowed zero punt return yards in eight of 14 games, while holding two other opponents to five yards or less.

Under Baxter's guidance, punt returner Nelson Agholor tied a Pac-12 record by scoring on two returns at California, and finished the game with a USC-record 168 punt return yards. Baxter also coached USC's tight ends in 2013.

In 2012, the Trojans notched four blocked kicks, including one returned for a touchdown, and posted a scoring kickoff return. USC also ranked fourth in the nation in kickoff returns (26.4 avg.) and punter Kyle Negrete, a finalist for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, helped the Trojans rank 29th in the country in net punting (38.6 avg.).

In 2011, Baxter was named Special Teams Coordinator of the Year after overseeing a group that produced seven blocked kicks.

Baxter joined the USC staff in March of 2010 after spending 13 seasons on the Fresno State coaching staff.

Baxter, 51, has 32 years of coaching experience. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, Loras College, where he served for five seasons (1981-85) as a student assistant (working with the running backs) during his undergraduate time.

He then moved on to Iowa State for two seasons (1986-87) as a graduate assistant working with the defensive line and special teams before the first of two stints at Arizona.

He was with the Wildcats in 1988 (as a graduate assistant working with the defensive backs and special teams), went to Maine in 1989 for his first full-time job coaching the outside linebackers and special teams when the Black Bears made it to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs and returned to Arizona in 1990 and 1991 as the tight ends and special teams coach.

He then was at Maryland for two seasons (1992-93) handling the running backs and special teams and Tulane for three years (1994-96) in charge of the tight ends and special teams before going to Fresno State.

He and his wife, Jill, have two daughters, Kelly and McKenzie. His father-in-law is former Utah and Weber State head coach Ron McBride.