Veteran defensive coach Kraig Paulson was hired as the Sacramento State defensive line coach in March of 2019.
Paulson comes to the Hornets after serving the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Southern Illinois for the past three seasons. He made an immediate impact with the Salukis as his defense allowed 75 fewer rushing yards and four fewer points in his first season compared to the prior year. SIU’s 12 interceptions that season were the most for the program in five years and Southern Illinois led the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and ranked 11th nationally, in red zone defense.
Prior to SIU, Paulson served as defensive coordinator at Utah State, Montana (twice) and UNLV during a span of 17 seasons. After playing for the Grizzlies, he started his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1987 and earned a full-time job in 1988. Paulson helped Montana win a national championship in 1995, and took over as defensive coordinator in 1998, winning two more conference championships before leaving to take the DC job at Utah State in 2000.
Paulson returned to Montana as defensive coordinator from 2004-09 where he helped the Griz win six-straight conference championships and advance to the national championship game three times. During his second stint at Montana, the Grizzlies went 71-13 overall, 34-4 in the Big Sky, and 11-6 in the playoffs. He earned the All-American Football Foundation Assistant Coach Award in 2006. Montana produced nine All-Americans under Paulson and his 2009 Montana defense led the nation in turnovers with 37, including 26 interceptions. That season, he coached Kroy Biermann to the Buck Buchanan Award as the FCS top defensive player. Biermann went on to be drafted by the Atlanta Falcons and enjoyed seven years in the NFL.
Paulson was UNLV’s defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and assistant head coach for five seasons from 2010-14. He helped the Rebels reach the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl before coaching at Northern State in 2015.
The Plentywood, Mont., native was a fullback at Montana from 1983-86. Paulson started the Griz’ tradition and handing down the #37 jersey to a younger player from the state of Montana. He was known for his hard-nosed play and workman mentality.
Paulson graduated from Montana in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in education. He and his wife, Jody, have three sons: Keogh, Elias and Rokken.