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Akey adds to UI staff

New University of Idaho football coach Robb Akey’s staff is essentially complete.

The four newest additions: Ex-Minnesota linebackers coach Mark Criner, who will be the defensive coordinator; Montana running backs coach Luther Carr, whose duties haven’t been determined; Utah graduate assistant Dan Finn, who will coach the offensive line; and Cornell assistant Roderick Plummer, the special teams coordinator as well as helping with the offense.

They join Steve Axman (offensive coordinator), Al Genatone (linebackers), Patrick Libey (secondary), Johnny Nansen (defensive line) and Jonathan Smith (offensive assistant) as Idaho’s nine full-time assistants.

Criner, the son of former Boise State head coach Jim Criner, has been defensive coordinator or co-DC at Middle Tennessee State, Cincinnati and Portland State. Criner also has assisted at Utah State and was defensive coordinator for the Las Vegas Outlaws when his father was the head coach.

Carr coached receivers his first three years at Montana before handling running backs in 2006. He previously was a graduate assistant at Washington on a staff with Axman and Bobby Hauck, who left the Huskies to take over as Montana’s head coach in 2003.

Carr was a standout receiver at Eastern Washington from 1989-93. He began his coaching career at Lewis and Clark High before becoming head coach at Garfield High in Seattle, his alma mater.

“I think he’ll be a great recruiter, teacher and role model for the kids,” Akey said. “He worked with Coach Axman for several years at Montana and Washington so we gain some ground right off the bat. He’ll either coach running backs or receivers.”

Finn has worked with Utah’s offensive line the last two seasons. He was a grad assistant at Southern Utah in 2004.

Finn was a Division I-AA All-American at Northern Arizona when the Lumberjacks were coached by Axman and Akey was an assistant coach. Finn was on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad in 1998 and played for NFL Europe champion Frankfurt in 1999.

“He’s a good teacher and he’s very confident in his way,” Akey said. “He has experience with the system coach Axman is going to be putting in and I like the fact that Dan has been exposed to a lot of different systems.”

Plummer has been at Cornell the last three years. In addition to special teams, he’s also worked with running backs and defensive backs. He served NFL fellowships with San Francisco in 2003 and Cleveland in 1992.

Plummer played linebacker at Washington State, where he earned his degree in 1993. He’ll probably coach receivers or running backs.

“When we started talking special teams, he had a plan, a system and he was automatic about it,” Akey said. “He has a great passion for it. I had NFL coaches calling on his behalf.”

Akey felt it important to name a special teams coordinator.

“That’s the phase of the game you can make the quickest difference,” Akey said. “A lot of people say it’s important but don’t back it up. This takes a lot of pressure off all of us because he’ll oversee it, but we’ll involve the entire staff.”

Akey said the staff will concentrate on recruiting prior to the signing date in February.

“I’m excited about this group of coaches,” Akey said. “Now we can put the plan into effect and the work really starts.”

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