Kearney, Neb. – Nebraska Kearney head football coach Ryan Held announced today that Jake Mandelko is the Lopers new special teams coordinator and defensive line coach.

The Lexington native is a former standout safety for the Lopers, earning All-Region honors as a senior in 2009. He is a rare UNK football player turned UNK full-time coach, joining the likes of Claire Boroff and Monte Meadows. 

"I'm excited to have Jake on our staff. He is a former Loper and he bleeds blue!” said Held. “He will coach our DL and Special Teams in the way he played for UNK! It will be done with DDT!” 

Mandelko most recently worked under former Loper assistant coach Grant Mollring at NCAA Division III Buena Vista (Ia.) University where he was assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator for six seasons. He also served as DC, defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Hastings College for two years while beginning his coaching career at Nebraska. For the Huskers over four years, Mandelko handled quality control for the DB’s and special teams and assisted with on-campus recruiting.

At BVU, Mandelko helped the Beavers win 16 games in five completed seasons. His defense moved up from last to the middle of the conference rankings in total defense.  Buena Vista also was among the league leaders in interceptions (25) and finished second sacks in 2019 with 25. In 2022, Madelko's defense ranked third in the conference against the run, allowing just over 100 rushing yards per game. He also helped coach seven all-conference defensive selections.

Having recruited extensively in Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Arizona and Texas, Mandelko was part of a 2009 Loper team that won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) regular season title, posted an 11-2 record and won the program’s first-ever playoff game. He had a combined 27 tackles in two playoff games that fall and currently ranks 22nd (194) on the all-time tackles list.

Mandelko holds a UNK bachelor of science degree in sports administration. He and his wife, Shandace, have three daughters -- Zoey, Aria and Avery -- and a son, Kai.

The new Loper staff is out recruiting in preparation for Division II signing day on Wednesday, Feb. 1