UNIVERSITY CENTER -- Saginaw Valley State University head football coach Jim Collins has announced the addition of two assistant coaches to the staff for the upcoming 2018 season. Ben Hodges joins the program as the team's Linebackers Coach and Special Teams Coordinator while Renato Diaz comes aboard as the Wide Receivers Coach. Both coaches joined the Cardinals for the 2018 spring season.
Ben Hodges comes to Saginaw Valley from Western Illinois University, where he was the Outside Linebackers Coach / Special Teams Coordinator in 2017 and the team's Running Backs Coach / Co-Special Teams Coordinator in 2016.
Prior to Western Illinois during 2016, Hodges spent time at Ohio State University as the team's Special Teams Quality Control Coach.
Ben was an assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky University for 10 years, spanning from 2006-2015. He helped lead the team to three Ohio Valley Conference Championships and appearances in the 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2014 NCAA Playoffs.
Hodges earned his bachelor's degree from Central College in 2006 with an Economics degree, graduating Summa cum Laude. He earned his master's degree in Sports Administation from Eastern Kentucky in 2007.
Renato Diaz comes to SVSU after serving as the Wide Receivers / Special Team Returns Coach at Coastal Carolina University. He coached for the Chanticleers for five seasons, spanning from 2012-2016.
Diaz went to Coastal after spending the 2011 season at Georgetown University, serving as the wide receivers coach with former Hoya and current Chanticleer offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude.
Diaz joined the Hoyas' staff after spending the previous three seasons (2008-10) on the coaching staff at Delaware State University, with current CCU recruiting coordinator Mike Gallagher. Diaz served as the Hornets' running backs coach as well as coaching the kickoff and punt returners. At Delaware State, Diaz worked with Larrone Moore who led Division I FCS with a kick return average of 34.80 yards per return in 2010. He also coached Travis Tarpley, who was 10th in the nation averaging 26.33 yards per return in 2009.
Prior to his time with the Hornets, Diaz spent three seasons (2005-07) coaching running backs and tight ends, while serving as the recruiting coordinator at Florida A&M. He helped running back Phillip Sylvester become the 2007 MEAC Rookie of the Year, rushing for 858 yards on 151 carries (5.68 yards/carry), as he led the MEAC and finished 17th in the nation, averaging 164.3 all-purpose rushing yards per game as a freshman. Diaz also helped tight end Taj Jenkins earn All-MEAC First Team. In 2005, he helped Rashard Pompey lead the MEAC in rushing (110.7 yards per game) and rush for 1,107 yards on 194 carries (5.71 yards/carry).
Diaz worked as the running back and special teams coach at Widener University for the 2004 season, helping the kickoff return units rank 11th in the nation with 23.3 yards per return and two touchdowns. He was the wide receivers coach at Christopher Columbus Catholic High School in Miami, Fla., in 2003 after assisting the New York Jets offensive staff during training camp in 2003.
He served as the running backs coach at Florida International University for two seasons, from 2001-03. At FIU, Diaz coached RB Rashod Smith to a spot on the Division I-AA All-Independent First Team. Prior to his time at FIU, Diaz spent the 2000 season at Columbia University, where he helped Johnathan Reese become the first RB in school history to top the 1,000 yard mark and a unanimous Ivy League First Team selection.
Diaz began his coaching career at his alma mater, the University of South Florida, in 1996 as an offensive assistant. He rose to the position of tight ends coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Diaz coached kicker Bill Gramatica to become USF's first All-American and a fourth round draft choice by the Arizona Cardinals. In 1999, his punt return unit ranked eighth in the I-AA in net punting, while his kickoff return unit ranked 12th in the nation with 22.3 yards per return. In 1998, his punt return unit ranked first in the nation in total return yards against, limiting opponents to a season total of 30 yards.
Diaz, a Havana, Cuba native, was raised in Miami, Fla. and graduated from USF in 1983 with his Bachelor of Science in geology. Diaz also graduated from the NCAA Advanced Coaching Academy in 2005 and the Expert Coaching Academy in 2007. Diaz and his wife Patricia were married in June 2010 and the two have four grandchildren, Avery, Jermiah, Izra and Miriam.
The Cardinals open the 2018 season at home against Alderson Broaddus on Thursday, Aug. 30. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at Wickes Stadium. Click here to view the 2018 SVSU Football Schedule.
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