The Wisconsin Badgers underwent a significant coaching overhaul after the end of last season, hiring established head coach Luke Fickell over program legend Jim Leonhard, which in return resulted in a completely new staff onboard.
One of the changes during that coaching overhaul? The hiring of Devon Spalding, who became the running backs coach at Wisconsin and is joining Fickell’s staff after four years at Youngstown State.
In coming to the Badgers, Spalding reunites with Fickell after the duo was paired together in 2019, when the former was a graduate assistant at Cincinnati.
Many may not know Spalding’s name, but that shouldn't deter one’s thoughts on his ability; the running backs coach is a well-respected commodity at the collegiate ranks, and saw significant success at Youngstown State, where he aided in the development of Jaleel McLaughlin, who rushed for 1,588 yards on seven yards per attempt in 2022.
Coming to Madison in 2023, Spalding earned a spot on 247Sports’s annual “30Under30” list, which points out the top 30 college football coaches or personnel staffers in the nation.
Prior to starting his career as a coach, Spalding was a running back and receiver at Central Michigan, playing there from 2014-2018.
Here’s what 247Sports had to say about Stienecker being a member of their “30Under30” list for 2023.
“Spalding spent the past three years at Youngstown State, where he mentored Jaleel McLaughlin, who finished third in the FCS last season in rushing yards (1,588) while also breaking the NCAA all-division career rushing record (8,161 between 4,737 at Notre Dame College from 2018-19 and 3,424 at Youngstown State from 2020-22). Since arriving in Madison this offseason, Spalding’s made noise on the recruiting trail, landing a pair of 2024 four-star running backs in Olney (Md.) Our Lady Good Counsel’s Dillin Jones and Mount Carmel (Ill.) High’s Darrion Dupree in July. A former Central Michigan running back and receiver, Spalding worked for Luke Fickell initially as a GA at Cincinnati in 2019.”
“He’s done a great job,” one Wisconsin source said of Spalding. “He had a tough room because of the experience and won everyone over. Great recruiter, too.”
Spalding’s first cycle with the Badgers was a successful one, as the Badgers landed not one, not two, but three quality running backs in the 2024 class in Darrion Dupree, Dilin Jones, and Gideon Ituka.
The Badgers are experiencing new waves, both on the field with their coaching changes, and off the field with their newfound recruiting prowess, and Spalding has seen early success on both fronts, with running back Braelon Allen and Co. praising his coaching style.
Despite the addition of offensive coordinator Phil Longo, the Badgers will still run a fairly balanced offensive approach, where Spalding’s expertise as a running backs coach will be helpful in aiding the offense.