Bears All-Access caught up with the football coaching staff to break down positions going into the upcoming season.
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Taiwo Onatolu begins his fourth full season with the Missouri State family in 2014 after joining Terry Allen's coaching staff on July 18, 2011 as the inside linebackers coach for the Bears.
Onatolu is a native of Papillion, Neb., and spent the 2007 to 2010 seasons as an assistant at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
He was recruited to UNO as a standout linebacker out of Papillion-LaVista High by current MSU Associate Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator D.J. Vokolek. He went on to start four seasons for the Mavericks, earning All-NCC first-team honors three times and All-America first-team honors in 2004. He was the North Central Conference's most valuable linebacker in 2004 after posting 98 tackles and 5 interceptions. He was in on 71 tackles as a senior, helping him earn All-America second and third-team honors by different agencies.
He finished his four-year stint at UNO as the program's No. 2 all-time tackler with 371 total stops. He also tallied 46.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 7 interceptions and 182 solo tackles in 44 games. He helped the Mavericks to a pair of NCC titles and a 2005 playoff appearance.
After completing his degree in Communication, Public Affairs & Community Service from UNO in 2006, Onatolu stayed with Coach Pat Behrns' UNO program for two years as a graduate assistant coach, working with the squad's linebackers. He coached All-American safety Randy Kush in 2007, the school's all-time leader in interceptions. He moved to full-time status in March 2010 and helped UNO to a combined 29-16 ledger during his four years on staff, including NCAA Division II playoff appearances in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
In his first season at Missouri State in 2011, he had the best of both worlds with a gritty and determined senior in David Ingram at one inside linebacker spot and a redshirt freshman in Andrew Beisel at the other. Beisel went on to record a team-high 84 tackles, becoming the first MSU freshman since 1998 to lead the club in total stops and earned MVFC All-Newcomer Team distinction. Ingram, who started all 11 games, tallied 77 tackles and finished third on the squad.
In 2012, Onatolu used five different starters in his rotation, including Beisel who led all middle linebackers with 73 stops in 10 games, while redshirt freshman Christian Hoffmann brought down 41 ball carriers with 5 starts in an impressive debut campaign.
It was Beisel and Hoffmann who led Onatolu's inside backers again in 2013. Beisel tallied 96 stops while starting all 12 games and earning All-MVFC honorable mention honors his junior campaign, while Hoffmann earned 9 starts his sophomore season with 36 total stops. The tandem helped Missouri State rank among the national leaders in red zone defense, rushing defense, scoring defense and passing defense, while ranking as one of the top defensive units in the MVFC.
Onatolu's twin brother, Kenny, has enjoyed a professional career that began with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League and included stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. He was also an All-NCC linebacker.