Lots Of Changes For WVU’s Blake Seiler
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – These past few months have brought plenty of new experiences for West Virginia assistant football coach Blake Seiler.
A native of Goddard, Kansas, and a 2007 graduate of Kansas State University, he had lived all but one of his soon-to-be 35 years – his birthday is Sunday – in the Sunflower State. He originally attended Oklahoma State on a wrestling scholarship before transferring to K-State after his freshman year, where he walked on to the Wildcat football team and eventually became a starting defensive end and team captain.
Seiler earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from KSU and a MBA from Wichita State. He worked a couple of years as an engineer for Cessna Aircraft before heeding the call from K-State’s legendary head coach Bill Snyder to return to Manhattan and join the Wildcat coaching staff. Starting in 2009, he spent a decade coaching defense at his alma mater, culminating with his promotion to defensive coordinator in 2018. The 79-year-old Snyder retired at the end of last season, and North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman was hired to replace the Hall of Famer.
Seiler was one of just two members of the previous KSU staff offered a coaching position by Klieman on his new staff – along with quarterback coach Collin Klein – but Seiler decided to seek a new challenge, and accepted an offer from WVU’s first-year head coach Neal Brown to coach the Mountaineers’ linebackers.
Thus after spending his entire life in about a 250-mile radius, he chose to spread his wings and move to West Virginia. His wife Inge (Jorgensen) Seiler, who was an All-American track athlete at the University of Virginia, grew up in Western Pennsylvania near New Castle, so it gets her closer to home, but for Blake it’s a big transition.
As for football, Seiler is coaching the Mountaineer linebackers, specifically the middle linebacker and the Bandit, which is a rush linebacker who is part defensive end and part linebacker. That’s a comfortable fit for Seiler, who spent his time as an assistant coach at Kansas State coaching either defensive ends or linebackers.
Then Brown threw a new wrinkle at Blake, adding the responsibility of being WVU’s special teams coordinator to his job responsibilities. That’s a new role for him.
“I’ve never been the full (special teams) coordinator, but I’ve helped with special teams for a decade,” noted Seiler. “At Kansas State, we had a long history of having very good special teams with Coach Snyder. I’m excited about it.”
Having served as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator last year, Seiler is used to managing a complete unit. Now it’s just a different one.
“I’ve been a defensive coordinator before, so special teams coordinator is obviously a different side of the ball,” he said. “But it’s good, and I think the players have really bought into it. Coach Brown really emphasizes the value of special teams, and I think that that’s great. That’s what I’m used to from where I came from with Coach Snyder.
“You’re not just managing the defensive players when you’re working with the special teams. You’re also managing offensive players,” Seiler explained. “You have the whole team, the specialists included as well. I think, obviously, it takes a full staff to do that, and I like how Coach Brown has structured it with every coach also having a lead role in the units as well and to have ownership in the staff as well.”
Seiler may oversee West Virginia’s special teams, but he’ll have plenty of help. WVU’s other assistant coaches will also work with specific units. Offensive coordinator Matt Moore, who also is in charge of the offensive line, will be responsible for the PAT/FG unit, while defensive line coach Jordan Lesley will oversee the PAT/FG block team. Running backs coach Chad Scott will work with the kickoff return unit, and defense back coach Jahmile Addae will handle the kickoff coverage team. Outside linebacker coach Al Pogue will lead the punt return team. West Virginia’s other four assistant coaches will also work with various special teams as well, meaning every coach will have a hand. Seiler will just coordinate the effort. He likes the challenge, though there’s a learning curve for him as well.
“I think now is the time to do this, because we’re just coming out-of-season (workouts),” said Seiler shortly after the start of spring practice. “You’re doing all the station drills, so you’re used to working with every player on the team. We haven’t really separated ourselves from that yet. I’m starting to learn all the faces and names, and now I have to put numbers with them too. So, we’re getting there.”
There are lots of new challenges and lots of changes for Seiler.
He’ll soon get a little normalcy, though, as his wife Inge and their two pre-school age daughters, Elle and Brynn, finished packing up the moving van in Manhattan on Friday and are making the 15-hour drive this weekend to Morgantown, where their new home awaits.