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Shawn Mennenga prepares for his second season as linebackers coach for the South Dakota State University football team.

During SDSU’s run to its first-ever playoff appearance at the Division I level in 2009, Mennenga mentored one of the top-performing and deepest linebacking corps in the Football Championship Subdivision. Junior Derek Domino was honored as a first-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection, while seniors Chris Johnson and Jimmy Rogers received honorable mention accolades. All three ranked among the team’s top six tacklers, combining for 241 tackles and 17 tackles for loss.

The linebackers played a prominent role on a defensive unit that ranked among the national leaders in scoring defense for much of the year, before finishing the campaign ranked 16th after allowing an average of 17.4 points per game — its best showing in six seasons at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision level. Four times the Jackrabbits held an opponent without an offensive touchdown.

Additionally, SDSU posted top-20 national rankings in three other defensive categories: pass efficiency defense (fourth, 99.55); rushing defense (104.33 yards per game) and total defense (17th, 289.5 yards per game).

Before joining the Jackrabbit coaching staff, Mennenga served four seasons as defensive coordinator at Fort Hays State (Kan.), where he coached 18 all-conference performers and one all-region player. He also oversaw a kickoff coverage unit consistently ranked among the top 20 at the NCAA Division II level.

Prior to his stint at Fort Hays State, Mennenga oversaw a rebuilding process at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., where he served as head coach for three seasons (2002-04). He was elevated to the head coaching position after serving as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2001, during which his unit ranked 10th in the NAIA ranks for pass defense and 18th in total defense.

After serving as an assistant high school coach for one season, Mennenga began his collegiate coaching career in 1994 as a graduate assistant at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo. He was later hired as a full-time assistant, coaching the secondary during the 1995 and 1996 seasons.

In 1997, Mennenga moved up to the Division I-AA (now FCS) level, coaching the outside linebackers for a Western Kentucky team that reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs. The next year, Mennenga became a coordinator for the first time as he was hired as defensive coordinator at Hutchinson Community College (Kan.), where he stayed for three seasons.

As a player, Mennenga lettered as a defensive back at Missouri in 1992. A recipient of the Senior Scholastic Award, he earned a bachelor of science degree in educational studies with an emphasis in exercise science in 1993. He added a master’s degree in education from Southwest Baptist in 1998.