Jay Christensen returns for his fifth season as a member of the Jackrabbit football coaching staff. He added the duties of co-special teams coordinator in 2014, while remaining the mentor of the team’s safeties.
In 2011, Christensen helped coach a secondary that ranked second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference for pass defense, allowing 186.9 yards per league game through the air. Sophomore cornerback Winston Wright earned MVFC Player of the Week honors the final week of the Jackrabbits’ season and also earned second-team all-MVFC honors after leading the team with three interceptions and adding 57 tackles.
Christensen again coached an all-MVFC performer in 2012, mentoring safety Skyler Luxa to second-team honors. As a squad, the Jackrabbit defense ranked fourth among Football Championship Subdivision programs for pass efficiency defense at 100.33, allowing only nine touchdowns through the air while intercepting 13 passes. SDSU also ranked fifth in scoring defense (16.38 points per game) and eighth in total defense (305.3 yards per game).
During the 2013 season, Christensen helped direct a Jackrabbit defense that ranked second in the FCS ranks with 22 interceptions and fifth in turnovers forced with 33. SDSU forced at least one turnover in every game, finishing the year fifth in the nation in turnover margin (+1.1 per game) as the Jackrabbits made a return trip to the postseason.
During the 2014 season, the Jackrabbits ranked second in the MVFC in pass defense (192.1 ypg) and fourth in pass efficiency defrense (117.5). Sophomore safety Nick Mears emerged as one of the league's top tackles with an average of 7.4 stops per game, and senior Melvin Taveras paced the team with three interceptions.
Christensen came to SDSU after serving the three previous seasons as defensive coordinator at Morningside College (Iowa), where he directed a top-ranked defense that allowed only 12.7 points and 12.1 first downs per game in 2010. The Mustangs compiled a 30-6 record in his three seasons on the Morningside sidelines, allowing an average of 15 points per game as the Mustangs reached the NAIA playoffs all three years. He also assisted with the special teams units.
Previously, Christensen served as a graduate assistant coach in charge of the inside linebackers and later as defensive backs coach at his alma mater, Nebraska-Kearney, from 2004-08. In 2005, the Lopers qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs and a year later ranked first in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in scoring defense.
He began his coaching career in 2003 as an assistant coach at Ravenna High School (Neb.), before enrolling in graduate school.