Mark Tommerdahl is in his second season as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Cal in 2014 and his first with the additional responsibility of coaching the team’s fullbacks.
“Mark Tommerdahl is one of the elite special teams coaches in the country who has been a key member of staffs at the top level of college football,” head coach Sonny Dykes said. “He has an impeccable track record in developing top specialists and producing some of the strongest special teams play in the nation. He also does a tremendous job of developing tight ends and will do an excellent job this season in his expanded role of working with fullbacks.”
“Cal is a program with a strong long-standing tradition of overall excellence,” Tommerdahl said. “Our objectives remain to revive that tradition and build upon it. It is an honor to represent one of the elite academic institutions in the country. We simply need to perform and recruit to the level of this fine institution.”
Placekicker Vincenzo D’Amato and punter Cole Leininger received honors after showing great improvement during Tommerdahl’s first season at Cal in 2013.
D’Amato was a second-team All-Pac-12 choice of the league’s coaches and a third-team selection of Athlon and Phil Steele. He was also a national semifinalist for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, a final candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, an honorable mention Pac-12 All-Academic pick, and played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl following the season. D’Amato made 17-of-20 (85.0%) field goal attempts to rank tied for second in the Pac-12 and tied for 23rd nationally in field goal percentage. He was also tied for third in the conference and tied for 25th nationally in field goals made per game (1.42 fgmpg).
Leininger was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection according to College Sports Madness after his 42.9-yard punting average that was a full three yards better than his 2012 mark ranked third in the Pac-12 and 33rd nationally. He was also a member of the watch list for the Ray Guy Award honoring the nation’s top punter and is expected to return to the list as a 2014 junior.
Tommerdahl’s inside receivers group played a key role in a Cal passing game that set single-season school records for passing yardage (3,977), pass completions (368) and pass attempts (622). Cal also established new single-game marks during the campaign for passing yardage (521 vs. Washington State) and pass attempts (65 vs. Northwestern).
Tommerdahl has served on coaching staffs of 13 bowl teams as well as six league champions and two division winners at some of the top Division I football programs in the country over his three decades as a collegiate coach.
Prior to his arrival in Berkeley, Tommerdahl spent four seasons at Louisiana Tech from 2009-12, including the final three as the special teams coordinator and inside receivers coach under Dykes. During his tenure with the Bulldogs, he tutored a pair of All-Americans in two-time first-team selection punter Ryan Allen (2011, ’12) and tight end Dennis Morris (2009), with Allen punting in all 16 regular-season games and both postseason contests for the New England Patriots in 2013 after signing an undrafted free agent contract with the NFL team following his 2012 collegiate season.
In addition to leading the country in scoring offense and total offense with a unit that posted the fifth-highest per-game scoring average ever by a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Louisiana Tech was among the NCAA’s top 20 in 2012 in passing offense (3rd, 350.75 ypg), fewest sacks allowed (7th, 0.83 spg), turnover margin (10th, +1.08 per game) and rushing offense (18th, 227.17 ypg). The Bulldogs scored more than 40 points in 11 of 12 games and over 50 points on eight occasions.
Louisiana Tech also led the nation in 2012 in net punting with a 43.51 average behind the performance of Allen, who became the first back-to-back and second two-time winner of the Ray Guy Award that was first given in 2000. Allen led the nation in punting in 2012 with a school-record 48.04 yards per punt average, punting 45 times for 2,162 yards. He had 21 punts of 50 yards or more, including the nation’s longest punt of the season with an 85-yarder at New Mexico State. Allen also pinned opponents inside the 20-yard-line on 20 occasions with only five touchbacks.
Allen’s 2012 campaign followed a 2011 season in which he was the only player from a non-BCS school to win a national award after averaging 46.12 yards per punt to rank fifth nationally. The Bulldogs were eighth in the country in net punting (40.12 ypg) and also led the nation in kickoff coverage.
In 2010, Louisiana Tech led the WAC and ranked 10th nationally in punt returns with an average of 13.63 yards per return, while ranking fourth in the conference and 25th nationally in kick returns (23.52 ypg). Much of the Bulldogs’ prowess was due to the play of Phillip Livas, who led the WAC and ranked sixth nationally with an average of 15.50 yards per punt return. Livas was also fifth in the WAC and 49th nationally in kick returns with a 24.63 yard average. Livas played his final two seasons for Tommerdahl during a career in which he tied an NCAA all-time record with a combined eight kick and punt return touchdowns, bringing back four of each for scores.
Morris garnered All-American honors and was named the Tight End Performer of the Year by the College Football Performance Awards in 2009 with 38 catches for 623 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns that were the most nationally among tight ends that season. In addition, Tommerdahl’s punt return squad led the WAC and ranked 25th nationally (12.33 ypr).
Tommerdahl spent the 2008 season as an assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Louisiana-Monroe. He developed first-team All-Sun Belt tight end Kenneth Zacharie and also had a kickoff coverage team that led the conference.
For five seasons from 2003-07, Tommerdahl was the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Texas A&M. During his tenure with the Aggies, Tommerdahl helped lead the program to the Cotton Bowl (2004), Holiday Bowl (2006) and Alamo Bowl (2007).
Tommerdahl’s special teams units at Texas A&M were also among the nation’s best, ranking in the top 25 in the nation in net punting in 2006 (25th, 37.00 nypp) and 2007 (5th, 39.17 nypp), and in kickoff returns in 2003 (10th, 23.90 ypr), 2006 (3rd, 26.08 ypr) and 2007 (20th, 23.54 ypr).
He coached current Chicago Bears’ tight end Martellus Bennett, who ended his Texas A&M career as the program’s all-time leader at the position in receptions and yards receiving. During the 2005 season at Texas A&M, Tommerdahl coached a pair of Freshman All-Americans in Bennett and punter Justin Brantly.
Tommerdahl spent the 2001 and 2002 seasons at Alabama as the program’s special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, helping the Crimson Tide to the 2001 Independence Bowl and 2002 SEC West Division title when the squad finished 11th in the final AP Top 25.
Tommerdahl also served as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach during stints at TCU (1998-2000), New Mexico (1997) and Minnesota (1995-96), coaching a Lou Groza Award semifinalist at all three schools. He added recruiting coordinator duties at Minnesota.
TCU won a pair of Western Athletic Conference titles in 1999 and 2000 on its way to appearances in the Mobile Alabama Bowl each season. Tommerdahl’s special teams groups made significant contributions, with a kickoff return unit that was ranked first nationally both campaigns while his special teams squads led the league in three of four statistical categories each season.
In 1997 at New Mexico, four of the Lobos’ special teams units were ranked in the top 20 in the country as the team won the WAC Mountain Division title and played in the Insight.com Bowl.
A native of Fergus Falls, Minn., Tommerdahl began his collegiate coaching career in 1984 with a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Wyoming, where he spent 11 seasons serving in numerous capacities also including offensive coordinator, backfield coach, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. He helped lead the Cowboys to four bowl appearances and three WAC titles during his tenure.
Tommerdahl earned bachelor’s degrees in business and physical education from Concordia College in Minnesota in 1983, and an MBA with an emphasis in marketing from Wyoming in 1986. He is married to the former Annette Jondahl.
Mark Tommerdahl File
Collegiate Coaching History
Bowl History (13 Games)
*Season in which bowl game was played