A.J. Blazek started with the Leatherneck Football program in January 2013 as the offensive line coach and the run game coordinator. He joined Bob Nielson's staff following a four-year stint at Winona State, a conference rival of Nielson's former team Minnesota-Duluth. Blazek served as the Warriors' offensive line and tight ends coach, and during his final three years at WSU was the co-offensive coordinator. He was named the 2012 'Assistant Coach of the Year' by the American Football Coaches Association. During his time, Blazek worked with an offensive unit that saw Rayon Simmons become the program's all-time leading rusher. The First Team Don Hansen Super Region and All-America selection broke the Warriors' season rushing record last year compiling 1,774 yards on the ground. He surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in each of the last three seasons, finishing with a program-record 5,245 career rushing yards. Winona State concluded the 2012 season ranked 10th nationally in total offense, 11th in passing efficiency, 30th in rushing, 29th in passing offense and 23rd averaging 23.5 points per game. Simmons' 148 rushing yards per game placed him third nationally. Two of Blazek's offensive linemen were named to the Don Hansen Super Region Second Team. Following the 2012 campaign, two offensive players were chosen to participate in the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game. The Warriors also won the 2012 Mineral Water Bowl, finishing 10-2. During his four years, Blazek has coached 14 of his position players to All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference honors - including four All-NSIC offensive linemen and one All-NSIC tight end last season. Twice during his three years as co-offensive coordinator Simmons led the conference in rushing. In 2012, the Warriors broke the program and NSIC record for total offense. Before joining Winona State, Blazek was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Fort Hays State (2005-08). He coached five offensive linemen to all-conference honors and one ESPN Academic All-American, Jordan Stricker in 2008. One of his players, offensive tackle Wes Yarbough, signed a NFL free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Blazek began his coaching career at his alma mater, the University of Iowa. He coached for four seasons (2001-04), the first year as a student assistant before becoming a graduate assistant coach. The Hawkeyes captured two Big Ten Conference titles during his time, and won Bowl games versus Florida and LSU. In 2003 while working with the offensive line, Blazek helped tutor the future No. 2 NFL draft pick, Robert Gallery. He also coached six other NFL draft picks at Iowa: Eric Steinbach (Cincinnati/2nd), Bruce Nelson (Carolina/2nd round), Seth Olsen (Denver/4th), Ben Sobieski (Buffalo/5th), Pete McMahon (Oakland/6th), and Mike Elgin (New England/7th). Following his All-American and Academic All-American career at Butler County Community College, Blazek was a two-year letterwinner at center for the Hawkeyes. He earned All-Ben Ten Conference honors in 2000 and was a co-captain during that 2000 season. Twice he earned Academic All-Big Ten Conference honors. Before he began his collegiate coaching career, Blazek played two seasons for the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League. He was the recipient of the 2001 Walter Payton Award for community service. Blazek received his bachelor's degree in Health Promotions in 2001, then a master's degree in Sports Administration in 2004, both at Iowa. He and his wife Kyla have three children: Cooper, Macey and Reece.