Tom Sims, who coached at Bowl Championship Series schools for nine seasons prior to coming to Youngstown State, serves as the defensive line coach for the Penguins.
In his four years with the program, Sims has coached an all-conference player each year. Those earning all-league accolades include Torrance Nicholson (2010), Andrew Johnson (2011), Aronde Stanton (2012), Kyle Sirl (2013), Derek Rivers (2014) and Terrell Williams (2014).
The 2014 was a the most productive year for the unit as Rivers was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference pick while Williams was a second-team honoree.
Rivers is the first YSU defensive lineman to earn first-team honors since Mychal Savage in 2009. In 2014, Rivers had 14 sacks, the third-most by a player in school history and the most by a Penguin in the regular season. Of his 14 sacks, 10 came in conference action. He had 50 tackles on the season, 41 of which came in league play.
Williams had the best season of his career finishing with 51 total tackles and 10 sacks playing opposite Rivers. Or note, all 10 of his sacks came in eight MVFC contests as he registered sacks in six contests.
Rivers and Williams each had school-record-tying single game performances with four sacks. Rivers had four sacks in a win over South Dakota while Williams registered four vs. Indiana State.
Additionally, defensive tackle Octavius Brown was credited with 39 total stops while fellow DT Emmanuel Kromah had 25 tackles, 16 of which were solos.
As a unit, defensive lineman combined for 27 sacks. As a unit, the defense registered 29 sacks, the most for the Guins since 2002.
Sirl was an honorable-mention selection after the best season of his career in 2013. He led the Penguins with 12 tackles for losses and tied with defensive lineman Emmauel Kromah and defensive end Vince Coleman for the team lead with four sacks. The defensive line combined to make 18 sacks on the campaign. Four linemen had at least three sacks. Three of the four members started all 12 games for the season.
In 2013, YSU posted an 8-4 overall mark and was 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Penguins started the campaign with an 8-1 mark, which included the first 5-0 start to conference play in school history. Dating back to November 2012, the Penguins won a school-record eight straight conference games.
YSU allowed just 95.5 yards rushing per game, the fourth-lowest total in school history in 2012. The Guins ranked sixth at the FCS level in fewest rushing yards allowed per contest. On five occasions, the defense allowed fewer than 71 yards rushing in a game. The Penguins allowed just 23 points in the final three games of the season, the lowest total in a three-game stretch since 2003.
YSU allowed 309.1 yards of total offense per game in 2012, the fewest surrendered since 2002. The 95.5 yards rushing per game was the lowest mark since 1994.
The Guins also finished the year with 21 sacks, the second straight season of registering more than 20 sacks for a campaign. Of the 21 sacks in 2012, 16 came from members of the defensive line. Against Southern Illinois, Stanton had 4.5 TFLs, the most in a game by a Penguin since 2001.
YSU posted a 7-4 overall mark in 2012 highlighted by a 31-17 win at Pittsburgh, the program's first-ever win over a BCS opponent.
In 2011, Sims coached Johnson to second-team all-conference honors following an impressive campaign. Johnson finished with 6.5 sacks, the most by a Penguin in the regular season since 1997. Overall, the much-improved unit registered 19 of the Guins' 23 total sacks on the campaign.
YSU had sacks in 10 of 11 contests in 2011, including four against South Dakota State and Southern Illinois. Late in games, the defensive line rose to the occasion time and time again. At No. 1 North Dakota State, the unit helped preserve the 27-24 victory with two sacks, a pressure and a game-ending fumble recovery in the final nine plays of the contest.
In 2010, Sims mixed two seniors with a group of newcomers that featured Johnson and first-time player Obinna Ekweremuba. Against Western Illinois, Nicholson, a second-team pick, had 3.5 tackles for the losses.
A former NFL defensive lineman, Sims is a 14-year coaching veteran, who spent the 2009 season with the Kansas Jayhawks.
Sims coached eight years in the Big Ten, spending the 2001-04 campaigns at Minnesota and the 2005-08 seasons at Illinois. In 2007 and 2008, both he and current YSU Head Coach Eric Wolford were assistants for the Fighting Illini.
The defensive unit at Kansas posted 31 sacks in 12 contests ranking 26th nationally with 2.58 collars per game in his lone season. The Jayhawks opened the season with five consecutive wins. Defensive end Max Onyegbule scored two touchdowns to go along with six sacks on the campaign. Fellow end Jake Laptad led the squad with 6.5 sacks. The duo combined for 23 tackles for losses while each finished with nine quarterback hurries.
In his last year at Illinois in 2008, the defense registered 32 sacks, leading the conference in sacks per game (2.7 a contest). A year earlier, the program recorded a school record 40 sacks in 2007, including 28.5 by defensive linemen.
He coached four All-Big Ten honorees, and his tenure was highlighted by an appearance in the 2008 Rose Bowl. The Illini posted a 9-4 overall record, including a win at top-ranked Ohio State.
The 2006 Fighting Illini had 23 sacks, a nine-sack improvement from Sims' first year with the program.
Sims had four strong campaigns at Minnesota in his first Big Ten stop.
The Gophers won 29 games in his four seasons, including a 10-win campaign in 2003. The program appeared in two Music City Bowls and a Sun Bowl during his tenure. In 2003 and 2004, the UM defense held the opposition to fewer than 130 yards rushing per game. The Gophers registered 31 sacks in 2002, 26 in 2003 and 24 in 2004.
His first stint at an FBS school was one year at Eastern Michigan in 2000 under Jeff Woodruff.
He began his coaching career working with the defensive linemen at Western Kentucky from 1997-99. The Hilltoppers reached the FCS playoffs in 1997 and won at least six games in each of his three seasons coaching for Jack Harbaugh.
Sims played seven seasons as a defensive tackle in the National Football League, including four with Kansas City (1990-92, 1996) and two with Indianapolis (1993-94). He was in camp with Minnesota (1995). Sims played 47 games in the NFL, finishing with 60 career tackles and four sacks. He had a career-best 30 stops while playing for Indianapolis in 1993.
He spent his first two seasons of college playing at Western Michigan before transferring to Pitt. For the Panthers, he recorded 142 tackles and 12.5 sacks in two campaigns from 1988-89.
A Detroit, Mich., native, Sims earned a degree in business from Pittsburgh in 1990.
He and his wife Rene have two daughters, Sydney and Zoe. Sydney is a student at Youngstown State and works in the athletic department.