Zauner (front) and Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick in 2003.
|Date of birth||November 2, 1950|
|Place of birth||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|Position(s)||Special Teams Coordinator|
|College||University of Wisconsin–La Crosse|
|Team(s) as a coach/administrator|
Previously, he had coached 13 seasons in the National Football League with the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals. He has coached kickers for over 35 years in High School, College and the NFL. Further, he was a successful college kicker playing for the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse.
Zauner also operates a kicking consulatation service located in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Zauner was a four-year letterman in football and baseball at University of Wisconsin–La Crosse (1968–72). He went to training camp as a punter with the Minnesota Vikings in 1973 and the Houston Oilers in 1974.
College coaching career
Zauner began his coaching career in 1979 at Brigham Young University under Head Coach LaVell Edwards. He became the first full-time special teams coach in the NCAA. At BYU he recruited punter/kicker Lee Johnson, a future fifth-round draft choice by the Houston Oilers in 1985.
He then moved to coach special teams at San Diego State for five seasons (1981–85) turning the Aztecs into one of the best special teams units in the nation. At SDSU, he helped to recruit current Redwoods defensive assistant coach and longtime NFL safety Robert Griffith.
Zauner spent the following three seasons (1987–89) at the University of New Mexico where he coached former NFL wide receiver Terance Mathis, who tied an NCAA season record (1989) for three touchdown’s on kickoff returns.
Professional coaching career
GARY ZAUNERS 13 YEAR NFL COACHING CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2006 SEASON: ARIZONA CARDINALS:
From 2006 Arizona Cardinals Media Guide: Gary Zauner is entering his 13th season as an NFL assistant and his first with the Cardinals after being hired to coach special teams on 1/5/06. Throughout his career, Zauner has been noted for discovering and recruiting undrafted rookie free agents and turning them into successful NFL players. Robert Griffith (Minnesota) and Obefemi Ayanbadejo (Minnesota), who are both on the Cardinals roster, got their start under Zauner as did Brian Russell (Minnesota), Will Demps (Baltimore), B.J. Sams (Baltimore) and Matt Katula (Baltimore).
2002 – 2005 SEASON: BALTIMORE RAVENS:
From 2005 Baltimore Ravens Media Guide: Gary Zauner entered his 4th season as Special Teams Coordinator following dramatic efforts of the everchanging special teams unit. Rookie free agent B.J. Sams posted two punt returns for TDs (tied for NFL and Ravens record) and set a new single-season franchise record with 1,826 combined return yards.
From 2004 Baltimore Ravens Media Guide: Gary Zauner guided the 2003 Ravens kickoff coverage team to 3rd overall in NFL (2nd in AFC) with an average start of 26.4-yard line. Dallas Morning News football Columnist Rick Gosselin ranked the Ravens’ 2003 special teams 4th in the NFL (based on 20+ categories). This Ravens’ kickoff special teams unit was 2nd in the NFL with 17 tackles inside the 20.
From 2003 Baltimore Ravens Media Guide: Gary Zauner was named the Ravens 1st Special Teams Coordinator in 2002. After 8 years of setting or breaking NFL records with the Minnesota Vikings as their special teams coach, it’s no fluke that the Ravens produced 4 special teams TDs last season. Chris McAlister stunned Denver, as well as Ravens fans and a national television audience after grabbing a Jason Elam missed FG, then racing a spectacular 107 yards for a TD, when he set the record for the longest play in NFL history. In 2002, Ed Reed blocked the first two punts in team history, and Chad Williams added a third (2 of 3 returned for TDs).
From 2002 Baltimore Ravens Media Guide: “There is a rare breed of Special Teams Coaches, and in my opinion, a very rare breed, less than a handful, and I think we have the best by way of Gary Zauner,” said head coach Brian Billick. He has proven his expertise in not only special team’s play, but in the specifics of kicking, punting and long snapping, which are such a huge part of this game. He is a tremendous resource to us.”
From 2001 Minnesota Vikings Official Web Site: Since Gary Zauner came to the Minnesota Vikings in 1994 as the special teams coach, he has helped produce six National Football League records and numerous team records. During his 7 seasons with the club he has coached three different kicking specialists (Gary Anderson, Faud Reveiz and Mitch Berger) to the Pro Bowl. Even more impressive is that this is Zauner’s first full-time NFL coaching assignment.
In ‘99, the Vikings set team record kicks/punts returned for a touchdown in a season with three (kickoffs by Robert Tate and Moe Williams and a punt by Randy Moss). The Vikings led the NFL for average opponents drive start line on kickoffs (23.5-yard line).
In ‘98, Zauner guided kicker Gary Anderson to the first perfect season by a kicker in NFL history. Zauner also guided punter/kickoff specialist Berger who led the NFL in touchbacks with 40, which was a NFL record since the kickoff was moved to the 30-yard line in 1993. Return specialist David Palmer returned the Vikings first kickoff for a TD since 1989 with an 88-yarder vs. Baltimore (12/13).
In ‘97, Punt returner David Palmer finished first in the NFC in punt return average (13.1) for the second time in his career.
In ‘95, the Vikings placed a player among the top two in the NFC in punt return average (David Palmer) and kickoff return average (Qadry Ismail) for the first time in the same season in team history in’95. Palmer became the first Minnesota player to lead the league in punt returns with a team season record 13.2-yard average.
GARY ZAUNER’S 11 YEAR COLLEGE COACHING CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
HIGHLIGHTS DURING 11 YEARS OF COLLEGE COACHING:
1) Coached (9) All-Conference punters and kickers from 1979 to 1991. 2) Blocked a total of (38) punts and field goals. 3) Scored (12) touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns and blocked kicks. 4) In five season at SDSU, the coverage teams never allowed a touchdown to be scored against them. 5) Also, at SDSU, the longest opponent’s kickoff return was only 42 yards in five seasons.
1990 – 1991 SEASONS AT Long Beach STATE:
A career highlight or dream come true, was in 1990, I was hired by the Legendary & Hall of Fame Head Coach George Allen to coach the 49ers special teams units. In Coach Allen’s only year at Long Beach State we finished with a winning 6-5 season. Coach Allen never had a losing season throughout his entire college or NFL coaching career!
1987 – 1988 SEASONS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO:
From 1987-88, I coached Special Teams at the University of New Mexico under Head Coach Mike Sheppard. In 1987 we had three special teams’ touchdowns, off of blocked punts and punt returns. In 1988, former Falcons wide receiver Terrance Mathis, tied a NCAA season record for TDs (three) on kickoff returns for the Lobos.
1981 – 1985 SEASON AT SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY:
After the 1980 Holiday Bowl or Miracle Bowl in San Diego in which BYU had one of the greatest come-back victory’s ever, to defeated SMU 46-45. In that game our special teams units, returned a punt 88 yards for a TD, recovered a surprise onside kick, and blocked a punt with 18 seconds left in the game, to set up the winning touchdown pass. The next week, Doug Scovil was named Head Coach at San Diego State. I was hired in San Diego and became the 1st full-time Special Teams Coach in NCAA history. The special teams units were one of the best in the country! Jim Sandusky in ’83 was the nation’s leading punt return man. He averaged 19.0 yards per return and the team’s average was 17.0 yards per return. Chris O’Brien set a Western Athletic Conference record of 25 consecutive field goals in the 1984-85 seasons.
1979 – 1980 SEASONS AT BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY:
My coaching career was started when Head Coach LaVell Edwards recognized, the only players not coached on his football team where the kicking specialist. In 1979 Coach Edwards hired me as a graduate assistant. I was put in charge of coaching the kickers & the kickoff return unit. In 1979, punter Clay Brown led the nation in punting with a 45.3 yard average and the kickoff return team led the nation in kickoff return average. In 1980, Coach Edwards placed me in charge of all the special teams units and kicking game.