Iowa State’s defensive ends coach, Curtis Bray, passed away at the program’s football facility on Wednesday morning. Bray, who has been on Paul Rhoads’ staff since 2009, was 43 years old. The cause of death has not yet been released by the university.
Bray, a former All-American linebacker at Pittsburgh, is survived by his wife Heather and two children.
Below is Bray’s bio from Cyclones.com. Check out CycloneFanatic.com later today for more details on this sad story.
Curtis Bray’s ability to mold Big 12 quality defensive ends has stood out in each of his first four Iowa State seasons. Cyclone head coach Paul Rhoads worked with Bray at Pittsburgh and values his assistant’s ability as a teacher. Bray has 19 years of coaching experience, including the Liberty Bowl trip last December.
Defensive end Rosy Maggitt had a strong senior season in 2012 with 33 tackles, 7.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks. Bray protégé Willie Scott (34 tackles, one sack) made 37 tackles with an interception and returns in 2013 as the Cyclones’ marquee defender.
Bray had earlier turned linebacker Jacob Lattimer into a play-making defensive end. Lattimer finished his career in 2011 with 85 career tackles, 12.5 for loss with seven sacks. He earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors. Former walk on Patrick Neal, combined with Latimer for 84 tackles and 6 ½ sacks last season. The pair together started 48 games.
A major benefactor of Bray’s coaching in 2009 was defensive end Chris Lyle. Lyle became a force in the trenches for the Cyclones in his senior season, making 69 tackles. Lyle led the team with 13 tackles for loss and five sacks. He was the defensive MVP of the Insight Bowl as ISU beat Minnesota 14-13. The play of sophomore Neal after an injury to senior Rashawn Parker improved steadily throughout the season. Neal had 27 tackles in 2009.
With Bray in his second year as linebackers coach at Temple in 2008, the Owls posted their most wins (5) since the 1990 season. TU was 4-4 in the Mid-American Conference, marking the first time in school history that Temple won four conference games in back-to-back seasons. Defensively, Temple was third in the MAC in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. Former San Francisco linebacker Alex Joseph was coached at Temple by Bray.
Prior to joining the Owls, Bray spent seven seasons as an assistant at Pittsburgh, including four years directing the linebackers. Under Bray’s direction in 2006, future Washington Redskins linebacker H.B. Blades ranked fourth nationally in tackles en route to FWAA First-Team All-American and Big East Conference Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors. Blades, a three-time first-team all-conference selection, became the first Panther linebacker to earn All-America honors since Jerry Olsavsky in 1988.
It was Bray who recruited current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a six-time Pro-Bowler, to Pittsburgh. The 2008 Big East Conference Player of the Year, linebacker Scott McKillop, was also recruited to Pitt by Bray. McKillop currently plays for the Buffalo Bills. Bray coached Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Clint Session at Pitt.
The Panthers competed in five bowl games during Bray’s coaching tenure, winning the 2001 Tangerine Bowl and the 2002 Insight Bowl, while competing in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl after winning the 2004 Big East title. In 2003, he participated in the NFL Minority Fellowship program for the Denver Broncos and worked with former Iowa State defensive coordinator Larry Coyer during training camp.
In 1987, he became the first defensive player to be honored as the Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year and also was a first-team USA Today All-American.
Born May 9, 1970, Bray graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He and wife Heather have daughter, Sydney Nicole, and a son, Colden Charles.