MADISON, Wis. – Ben Strickland, a former Wisconsin defensive back who has spent the last three seasons on the Badger coaching staff, has been promoted from a graduate assistant to a full-time assistant coach, UW head coach Bret Bielema announced Wednesday. Strickland will assist with the defensive secondary and be involved with special teams.
“Since I arrived in Madison I’ve been impressed with Ben, first as a player and team captain, then as a high school coach and for the last three years as a member of our staff,” Bielema said. “I have watched him grow personally and professionally. He exhibits great leadership and is a tremendous teacher. Our kids really respond to him. I’m thrilled to be able to give Ben his first opportunity at a full-time job.”
Strickland spent the last two seasons as a graduate assistant working with the defense. He returned to Wisconsin is 2009, serving as the team’s defensive quality control coordinator.
“When Coach Bielema presented this opportunity to me I was very humbled by it,” Strickland said. “To be able to play for my home state school, a school I loved growing up, get my start in coaching here and then bring it full circle and be hired on full-time is a dream come true for me. It’s something I feel very fortunate about and something I have worked hard for. I’m going to continue to work hard and do what’s best for the program and what’s best for these kids.”
Strickland is the fifth new full-time coach the Badgers have hired since the Rose Bowl, joining offensive coordinator Matt Canada, wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, offensive line coach Mike Markuson and linebackers coach Kevin Buh.
“I got a chance to meet Coach Buh today and obviously I’ve worked with Coach Ash and Coach Partridge and I think it will be a fun defensive staff to work with and one that I am excited to work with,” Strickland said. “With the additions of Coach Canada and Coach Markuson as well, I think it’s an exciting time in the program.”
A former walk-on, Strickland was elected team captain as a senior in 2007. A four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Strickland played in 51 games as a Badger on special teams and as a defensive back. He finished his career with 72 tackles, eight passes defensed and one interception.
On special teams he blocked and recovered a punt in the 2007 Capital One Bowl and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to cap a dramatic comeback win at Minnesota in 2005, a play that was later named Pontiac’s Game-Changing Performance of the Year.
Strickland graduated from UW in December, 2007 with a degree in special education and is finishing his master’s degree in . Following graduation, he spent a year teaching at Wayzata High School in Minnesota and coached defensive backs at Minnetonka High School.
Strickland and his wife, Laura, live in Madison.