FOOTBALL SUPPORT STAFF
JOE SCHAEFER | DIRECTOR OF SCOUTING
Joe Schaefer is in his second year as Director of Scouting for the Iowa State football program.
Schaefer assists with recruiting visits and helps manage official and unofficial visits. He also organizes the recruitment process for the assistant coaches.
Before his arrival in Ames, Schaefer was briefly on Maryland’s football staff as a quality control assistant after highly successful high school coaching career in Ohio.
A native of Parma Heights, Ohio, Schaefer was named head coach at Benedictine High School (Cleveland) in 2013 after serving as an assistant coach at the school in 2011-12. Under Schaefer’s leadership, the Bengals were 35-6 in his three years as head coach (2013-15).
He led Benedictine to an Ohio Division IV state title in 2014 and his 2015 squad finished the season at 12-1.
He twice crossed paths with Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell in his football career. In 2010, Schaefer was a graduate assistant at Toledo when Campbell was an assistant with the Rockets.
A 2008 graduate of Bowling Green, Schaefer also played defensive end for the Falcons (2004-08) during Campbell’s stint as an assistant with the school.
Schaefer also spent a season at Findlay (2009) as the defensive line coach.
He has a wife, Maura.
DEREK HOODJER | ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF SCOUTING
Derek Hoodjer is in his second season as an assistant director of scouting after spending the 2015 campaign as a graduate assistant with the Cyclone defense.
Hoodjer assists with recruiting visits and helps manage official and unofficial visits. He also organizes the recruitment process for the assistant coaches.
As a graduate assistant, Hoodjer helped manage and maintain the defensive recruiting board and was the defensive recruiting supervisor for Cyclone football, as well as the student coaches/intern program coordinator.
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Hoodjer graduated from Iowa State in December of 2014 after serving three years as a student assistant with the Cyclone football program (2012-14).
Hoodjer is engaged to Hanna Beck.
MARK THURSTON | ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF SCOUTING
Mark Thurston is in his second season as the assistant director of scouting for the Iowa State football program.
Thurston assists with recruiting visits and helps manage official and unofficial visits. He also organizes the recruitment process for the assistant coaches.
Thurston was on staff at Norfolk State from 2006-14 before a brief stop at Toledo in 2015 where he was a defensive quality control coach.
At Norfolk State, Thurston worked primarily with the defensive line, helping the Spartans annually produce outstanding defenses. He coached eight all-conference performers and two FCS All-Americans in his 10 years at the school. In 2011, the Spartans ranked second in FCS in total defense, won the MEAC title, earned a FCS Playoff berth and were crowned as the Black College national champion.
In his final season at NSU, the Spartans had the second-ranked defense in FCS.
He was the defensive line coach at Miami Norland High School from 2003-04, mentoring three all-state defenders who earned Division I scholarships. He also coached NFL stars Antonio Brown and Richard Gordon at the school.
A native of Miami, Fla., Thurston has an outstanding track record of recruiting high level players from the talent-rich Miami area.
Thurston was an all-state prep defensive end before earning a scholarship at West Virginia, starting three seasons for the Mountaineers from 1997-99 at rush linebacker.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia in 2003.
Thurston has a wife, Virginia, and two children: Major and Jada.
JUSTIN CUMMINGS | RECRUITING GA
Justin Cummings-Morrow is in his second season as a graduate assistant for recruiting.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Cummings-Morrow was a defensive end at Toledo from 2012-14, joining the team as a walk-on after a successful prep career at Colerain High School.
Cummings-Morrow, who earned his degree from Toledo in 2015, was a student assistant for the Rocket football team during the 2015 season.
GREG BRABENEC | DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Greg Brabenec is in his second season as Director of Football Operations at Iowa State. He served in a similar role on Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell’s staff at Toledo from 2014-15.
Brabenec is responsible for coordinating most non-coaching aspects of the Cyclone football program, including budget, team travel, daily schedules and team meals.
Before serving as head operations coordinator at Toledo, he spent two seasons as a graduate assistant coach for the Rockets, working primarily with the defense.
Brabenec served an undergraduate student assistant with the Bowling Green football program from 2007-10, earning his bachelor’s degree in sport management in 2011. In 2011, he coached outside linebackers at Lindsey Wilson College (KY).
Brabenec attended Olmsted Falls High School (OH) where he played football and baseball.
TAYLOR WILHELM | DIRECTOR OF NEW MEDIA
Taylor Wilhelm is in his second season as director of new media for the Iowa State football program. Wilhelm is spearheading the program’s efforts in creating graphics and videos for social media and recruiting.
Wilhelm also helps produce graphics for branding and promotions of the program.
A native of Greenwich, Ohio, Wilhelm was a video graduate assistant at Toledo in 2015. He was responsible for created graphics/flyers for social media and recruiting purposes, as well as managing social media for the football program.
Wilhelm was a member of the Malone (OH) University football team for four years, earning All-GLIAC Academic honors. He was the recipient of the John Thomas Unsung Hero Award at the school.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting/business administration at Malone University (Canton, Ohio) in 2015.
ERICA GENISE | EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
Erica Genise is in her sixth season as an Executive Assistant with the Iowa State football program.
Genise has over 20 years of experience working in administration roles for football programs.
A 1993 graduate of Iowa, Genise began her career as a coaching assistant for the Minnesota Vikings from 1993-97.
She was hired by Stanford in 1997 as an assistant to the head football coach on Tyrone Willingham’s staff.
Genise followed Willingham to Notre Dame in 2002 where she was the director of football operations until 2004. She again assumed the role of director of football operations for Willingham’s staff at Washington from 2005-08.
A native of Mason City, Iowa, Genise and her husband, John, have a son, Benji.
JOE HOUSTON | VIDEO SPECIALIST
Joe Houston is in his second season at Iowa State as an Associate for Quality Control for special teams.
Houston's work with 2016 First Team All-Big 12 kicker Cole Netten was evident. Netten broke the school record for field goal percentage (94.1 pct.) in a season, connecting on 16 of his 17 attempts.
Houston arrived in Ames after spending the 2015 season as a quality control assistant for special teams at Toledo. In his only season with the Rockets, Houston helped mentor Freshman All-America kicker Jameson Vest.
Prior to his stint at Toledo, the Redondo Beach, Calif., native was an assistant coach at El Camino College (Torrance, Calif.) for three seasons (2012-14), directing the special teams and specialists. He also was a defensive secondary assistant for the school in 2014.
A 2010 graduate of USC, Houston was a placekicker for the Trojans from 2007-10 after an All-American season at El Camino College in 2006. Houston played for Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin at USC, earning the starting kicking duties in 2010. He led the team in scoring (73 points) and made 10-of-16 field goals and 43-of-43 PATs as a senior.
After graduation, Houston was a kicker in the Arena Football League for the Chicago Rush and Nebraska Danger. He tied an AFL record with 11 PATs in a game for the Rush in 2012.
AARON HILLMANN | DIRECTOR OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
Aaron Hillmann is in his first season as Director of Player Development for the Cyclone football program.
Hillmann was the head strength and conditioning coach for the Illinois football program from 2012-15. He was hired in January 2012 as a member of Tim Beckman’s first coaching staff with the Illini.
Hillmann, who has over 20 years of experience in collegiate athletics, was named a master strength and conditioning coach in 2013 by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA), the profession’s highest honor.
Prior to his time at Illinois, Hillmann worked with the Michigan football program after spending nine seasons as the head strength and conditioning coach at Bowling Green University where he oversaw all 18 sports.
Hillmann also served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Notre Dame (1998-2001), Connecticut (1996-98), Cincinnati (1995-96) and Ball State (1992-95).
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Hillmann graduated from Missouri in 1991. He and his wife, Dina, have two sons, Jacob and Jonah, and a daughter, Skylar.