NIU rallied for a 30-27 victory over Iowa Saturday.
Thad Ward enters his first season as wide receiver coach at Northern Illinois University.
At Western Michigan in 2012, Ward developed Broncos' freshman Jaime Wilson into the team's leading receiver en route to MAC Freshman of the Year honors. Wilson caught 67 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns while averaging nearly 80 receiving yards per game.
Ward went to WMU after one season at Gardner-Webb where he served as passing game coordinator in addition to coaching wide receivers. Prior to that, he spent six seasons as running backs coach at Western Illinois University. The Leathernecks had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his six seasons, and the 2010 WIU offense ranked second in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in points per game and was third in yards per game.
In May 2009, Ward participated in the NCAA Football Coaches Academy, and the NFL's Minority Internship Program, where he worked with the Baltimore Ravens.
At WIU, Ward helped tutor Herb Donaldson, who led Division I in rushing and scoring in 2008 en route to becoming the school's all-time leader and the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Donaldson twice gained over 300 yards in a game and averaged 149 rushing yards per game, fifth in the country.
Ward began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Florida A&M University in 2002, then spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons in the high school ranks at Tallahassee (Fla.) Rickards High School, where he coached wide receivers and defensive backs in 2003 and served for a time as interim head coach in 2004.
As a player, Ward spent three seasons at UCF, where he caught 43 passes for 446 yards as a senior while averaging 40.5 receiving yards per game. He joined the Knights' program after playing one year at Coffeyville Community College, where he was an All-Jayhawk Conference selection in 1998 as a redshirt freshman.
The Tallahassee, Fla. native was an all-state receiver at Godby High School as a senior. He and his wife, Jocelyn have two daughters, Jayda and Journie, and a son, Thaddaeus, Jr.