Chris Simpson is in his fifth season as linebackers coach. He was also appointed defensive run game coordinator duties in 2019.
Working with the linebackers, Simpson helped develop Khalil Hodge, arguably the best middle linebacker to ever play at Buffalo. In only three seasons, Hodge recorded 421 tackles, the third-highest total in school history.
In 2018, three of the team’s four leading tacklers were linebackers, including Hodge (144), James Patterson (77) and Jordan Collier (56).
In 2017, Hodge had arguably the finest season by a linebacker in school history. The junior middle linebacker had an FBS-era record 154 tackles on the year to lead the Mid-American Conference and rank second in the nation. Hodge was named All-MAC First Team for his efforts.
In 2016, for the second straight season, Simpson’s linebackers were the top three leading tacklers on the team. Hodge had a huge season for the Bulls, finishing with 123 tackles, the eighth most in school history for a single season and the second most in UB’s FBS era. Hodge was named All-MAC Second Team.
Simpson made an immediate impact with the Bulls as the linebackers were arguably the strongest unit of the Bulls defense in 2015. The top three tacklers on the team were linebackers and for the first time since 2008, the Bulls had two different players with over 100 tackles as Nick Gilbo finished with 113 and Brandon Berry had 104. Berry was named All-MAC Second Team and Okezie Alozie was named third-team All-MAC.
Simpson came to UB after spending 2014 as the outside linebackers coach at MAC-foe Eastern Michigan.
Prior to coaching at EMU, Simpson spent the previous four seasons as linebackers coach at Grand Valley State. During his time in Allendale, Mich., the team posted a 39-11 record and four Division II playoff victories. He also tutored six All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) performers during that span.
Grand Valley closed the 2013 football campaign ranked third in the final American Football Coaches Association poll. The Lakers advanced to the NCAA DII National Semifinals for the eighth time after knocking off undefeated and No. 3 ranked Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Senior linebacker Jordan Kaufman received second team All-GLIAC honors after leading the squad in tackles with 87, while also recording eight tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and returning a blocked field goal 56 yards for a score. Also earning honorable mention league honors for GVSU were senior linebackers Charles Hill and Luther Ware.
His 2011 linebacking unit was a key component in a Laker defense that ended the year among the GLIAC leaders. GVSU led the league in tackles for loss (93) and sacks (36), while ranking second in scoring defense (20.2). GVSU limited opponents to 15.5 points per game in its last five games that season.
Simpson’s linebacking unit helped the Laker defense rank nationally in several categories, including the top 20 in tackles for loss and quarterback sacks in 2010. Ware and Justin Victor earned All-GLIAC accolades during the 2010 campaign.
He arrived at GVSU following a two-year stint at the University of Nebraska-Omaha under current EMU defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin. The Mavericks were 14-9 with one appearance in the NCAA DII playoffs during his time on the staff.
Simpson spent five years at Division III national power Wisconsin-Whitewater where he was an assistant coach in charge of the linebackers. UWW was 42-3 his final three seasons with three-straight NCAA DIII National Championship game appearances and three Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crowns. The Warhawks claimed the 2007 National Championship and turned in an overall mark of 56-9 during his five years on the staff.
In addition, Simpson coached two years (1999-2000) at Waunakee (Wis.) High School, one year (2001) at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, as a graduate assistant and one year (2002) at Wisconsin-Platteville. In the summer of 2006, Simpson was selected as a participant at the NCAA Men’s Football Coaches Academy.
He also has received an NFL Minority Coaching Internship on six occasions, from the Green Bay Packers for defensive line and special teams in the summer of 2006, in 2007 with the Dallas Cowboys, in 2008 with the Carolina Panthers, in 2009 with the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns and in 2013 with the Detroit Lions.
Simpson graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wisconsin-Whitewater in physical education in 1998. He earned his master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2004.
Simpson and his wife, Nicole, have three children: Jarryn, Riley and Noah.