WSU hasn’t formally announced Bellantoni’s addition, but Chief of Staff Dave Emerick revealed the Cougars’ newest assistant Tuesday during the “Cougs in 60” radio show with Derek Deis.

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After a flock of his assistants left for other programs last year, Mike Leach hasn’t spent nearly as much of the 2019 offseason restructuring his coaching staff at Washington State.

Inside linebackers coach Ken Wilson created the only vacancy, leaving for Oregon in January, and the Cougars have apparently already filled the position, hiring former University at Buffalo defensive ends coach Roc Bellantoni.

WSU hasn’t formally announced Bellantoni’s addition, but Chief of Staff Dave Emerick revealed the Cougars’ newest assistant Tuesday during the “Cougs in 60” radio show with Derek Deis.

Bellantoni spent two seasons at Buffalo in various roles, working in 2017 as the Director of Player Personnel before being promoted to defensive ends coach last year. With Bellantoni monitoring Buffalo’s defensive line, the Bulls bumped their sacks total from 19 in 2017 to 35 in ’18.

While he doesn’t have any obvious connections to Leach’s current coaching staff, Bellantoni’s time at Florida Atlantic University – where he was a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2014-16 – overlapped with that of WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun, who was in charge of FAU’s athletic department for 5 1/2 years before coming to Pullman in January of 2018.

During his time with the Owls, Bellantoni oversaw the most productive career by a defensive linemen in school history. FAU defensive end Trey Hendrickson, now with the New Orleans Saints, left Boca Raton as the program’s career leader in sacks, tackles-for-loss, quarterback hurries and forced fumbles.

Bellantoni also coached the defensive line at Villanova from 2012-13 after spending the bulk of his career at Eastern Illinois (2001-11), where he began as a defensive line coach, defensive coordinator and eventually an associate head coach. During Bellantoni’s stint at Eastern Illinois, the Panthers won five Ohio Valley Conference championships (2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009) and qualified for the NCAA playoffs six times.

At WSU, Bellantoni will be inheriting an inside linebackers group that loses a veteran captain in sixth-year senior Peyton Pelluer, but one that also returns a trio of experienced redshirt juniors, including All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection Jahad Woods. Fellow fourth-year juniors Dillon Sherman and Justus Rogers have played in a combined 51 games over the last two seasons while redshirt sophomore Fa’vae Fa’vae made 10 cameos in 2018.

Barring any additional departures, Bellantoni rounds out Leach’s 2019 assistant coaching staff, though WSU still needs to fill the Director of Football Operations position formerly held by Antonio Huffman, who accepted a Chief of Staff position at Texas Tech a few days after the Alamo Bowl.