Feb. 15, 2006
John Wristen, who spent the last seven seasons coaching at the University of Colorado, is joining the UCLA coaching staff, head coach Karl Dorrell announced today. Wristen will coach the Bruin tight ends and special teams.
"John has a great track record with tight ends and special teams and has great experience with our offense," said Dorrell.
In his seven years at Colorado, the Buffaloes won four Big 12 North championships and the 2001 Big 12 title. The Buffaloes won the National Championship in 1990 when he was serving as a graduate assistant.
During the last five seasons, Wristen was responsible for coaching the tight ends and several of the Buffalo special teams, including the place kickers and the kickoff return and punt coverage units. This past season, place kicker Mason Crosby earned All-America honors and tight end Joe Klopfenstein earned All- Big 12 acclaim. In 2001, Daniel Graham won the Mackey Award, presented annually to the nation's top tight end. Wristen also served as recruiting coordinator during his last two seasons (2004-05).
In his first two years (1999-2000) at Colorado, he coached running backs, as well as the kickoff return and punting units. He helped tutor Cortlen Johnson, who rushed for 1,657 yards in just 19 games.
Prior to coaching at Colorado, Wristen spent eight seasons (1991-98) on the coaching staff at Northwestern. He coached the running backs, including Darnell Autry, an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist in 1995, and Dennis Lundy. Lundy set many school records under Wristen's tutelage, only to see Autry break most of them just one year later. He also coached the kickoff return and punting units. The Wildcats won Big Ten titles in 1995 and 1996 and played in the 1996 Rose Bowl.
Including his two seasons (1990-91) as a graduate assistant at Colorado, Wristen has been associated with nine teams that earned post-season bowl berths. Colorado won the 1991 Orange Bowl to earn the National Championship.
Wristen, 43, was a star quarterback at Southern Colorado, lettering four years (1980-83) and earning first-team NAIA All-America honors as a senior.
Upon his graduation in 1984, where he earned his bachelor's degree in physical education, he worked as a student teacher at his alma mater in 1984. He was a free agent in the Denver Broncos' training camp that summer. He got his start in coaching at Weslaco (Texas) High School in 1985, working as the offensive coordinator. He went back to school to earn his master's in special education, which he did from Adams State College (Alamosa, Colo.) in1987. While attending school at Adams State, he was the head coach at nearby Rocky Ford High School for two years (1986-87).
He then served as the offensive coordinator at Fort Lewis College in Durango for two years (1988-89), before joining the Colorado staff for the first time in 1990 as a graduate assistant. He assisted with the quarterbacks and fullbacks in CU's national championship season in 1990, and then with the running backs in1991.
He was born April 15, 1962 in Denver, and graduated from Pueblo (Colo.) South High School, where he lettered in football, basketball and track. He is married to the former Sue Forward, and the couple has three children, daughters JoVanna (18) and Bailey (8) and son Clay (10).