Dave Plungas was named the Robert Morris University defensive coordinator by head coach Bernard Clark in January of 2018. Plungas was a defensive assistant under Clark for three seasons at the University at Albany prior to joining the Colonials staff.
“For the last three and half years, he’s worked side-by-side with me, so he knows exactly what I’m looking for,” said Clark. “He knows the defenses I like. He knows the culture I want. He knows that our best defense has to be our base defense. He knows we’re trying to make it as simple as possible for our guys to play fast, physical and finish off plays. Dave is very detailed and very structured.”
Most recently, Plungas served as the outside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for three seasons at the University of Albany. He oversaw the development of Eli Mencer, an All-Colonial Athletic Association pick at linebacker. Mencer led the CAA and was third nationally forcing five fumbles in 2017.
"I am very excited and grateful to become part of the Robert Morris University football program under the guidance of Coach Clark,” said Plungas. “We are going to continue to build upon the success and traditions that have been established here while creating our own. This is an exciting time for this football program and I cannot wait to get started.”
Plungas helped mold the 2017 Danes defense into the ninth best in the nation. That squad ranked ninth in FCS holding opponents to just 282.1 yards per game, a number that was bolstered by the country’s 15th-best rushing defense (107.0) and 20th-best passing defense (175.1). The Great Danes allowed just were 17th nationally allowing just 17.7 points per game as the Albany defense finished in the top-20 of eight different national stats categories in 2017 and three players earned All-CAA honors for the Danes defense.
In 2016, the Danes defense ranked first in the CAA with a +1.45 turnover margin and 32 total forced turnovers, leading to just 18.8 points allowed per game for second in the league. Three Albany defensive players earned All-CAA honors, including Michael Nicastro on the First Team with 126 total tackles and three recovered fumbles, each top-four in all of FCS.
A 2013 graduate from UAlbany, Plungas was a member of the Danes' squad from 2008 to 2012. Plungas, a linebacker from Concord Township, Ohio, totaled 246 tackles in 43 games in his career. Plungas helped UAlbany win three Northeast Conference Championships (2008, 2011, 2012) and to the program's first NCAA FCS Playoffs in 2011.
Prior to his return to UAlbany, Plungas spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. There, he coached the linebackers and helped the Engineers to a 5-5 record in 2013 and 6-5 mark and an appearance in the ECAC North Atlantic Bowl Game in 2014.
Assistant Head Coach | Defensive Line
Rafael Tolentino enters his first season on the Robert Morris University football staff in 2017 as the assistant head coach and defensive line coach.
Tolentino was most recently the head football coach at King High School in Tampa, Fla., where he oversaw all aspects of the program in 2016 and 2017. Prior to that, he served as an assistant at Oak Ridge High School (Orlando, Fla.) and Freedom High School (Orlando, Fla.).
“I met Rafael on the recruiting trail many years ago and we developed a relationship over the years. The thing that stands out to me about him is how organized and structured he is and how on top of things he is,” said Clark. “He also had a drive for his players when they were in school and he fought to get them into colleges. He’s extremely structured and he’s ex-military, so he believes in a lot of the things that I believe in.”
Tolentino served in the United States Air Force, earning the Good Conduct Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Oregon in 2003 and went on to get his Masters of Liberal Arts degree in 2004.
In spring of 2013, Tolentino served as linebackers coach at Culver-Stockton College. Immediately before his time with the Wildcats, Tolentino served as the linebackers coach for one season at South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, S.D. During his one year with the Hardrockers, Tolentino’s linebackers made up five of the top 11 tacklers on the team.
Tolentino began his coaching and teaching career in 2003 at Glendale Community College in Glendale, Ariz., immediately following his graduation from Western Oregon. While at Glendale, Tolentino helped the squad to a NJCAA National Championship in 2005. He served in several capacities while there, coaching running backs, rovers and outside linebackers in his three seasons. Individually, Tolentino coached an NJCAA All-America running back in 2003, an All-America defensive back in 2004 and two all-conference linebackers in 2005.
Tolentino has an extensive background as an educator and coach. From 2006 through 2011, he taught algebra in the Central Florida Area School District while serving in several different roles with the football team. He began as the secondary coach in 2006 before being promoted to defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator over his final five seasons there.
Assistant Defensive Line | Recruiting Coordinator
Delbert Tyler enters his first season with Robert Morris as the assistant defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator in 2017. A graduate of Gateway High School, Tyler spent 2017 as the graduate assistant defensive line coach at Eastern Michigan University where he also assisted in recruiting and breaking down film.
“Delbert is a young man from Monroeville, played at Gateway and loves this area,” said Clark. “I coached Delbert at Hampton and so I saw the coach in him on the field. He was the guy on the field who lined everybody up and made sure they were where they were supposed to be. He wanted to take on a role of helping this program and so he’s going to be our recruiting coordinator as well as helping the defensive line and I think he’s going to do a great job for us.”
Tyler molded defensive linemen Maxx Crosby and Jeremiah Harris into All-Mid-American Conference players under his tutelage at EMU. Crosby finished 2017 with 16.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks while Harris accumulated 12.5 tackles for loss and six quarterback takedowns.
Prior to his time with the Eagles, Tyler spent one season coaching the defensive line at the University of Findlay. In addition to his coaching duties, Tyler broke down film and ran the scout team while also recruiting portions of Ohio. He also served the same duties as an assistant linebacker coach at ASA College of Miami during the 2016 season.
A native of Monroeville, Tyler was a four-year starter and a defensive captain at Hampton University where he played under Clark. Upon graduation in the spring of 2014, Tyler was invited to the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie mini-camp in 2014 as a linebacker. The Gateway graduate had an accomplished career at Hampton, finishing as the program’s second all-time leading tackler with 386 stops. He was a three-time All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team member.
John Faircloth comes to Moon Township after spending the previous two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant as Colorado State University. With the Rams, Faircloth helped coach the defensive line and held recruiting territories through the Midwest in addition to Virginia and Washington, D.C. He was also responsible for opponent scouts and ran the scout team.
“Coach Faircloth came to me on a strong recommendation from a friend on the staff at Colorado State University,” said Clark. “What I loved about Coach Faircloth when I spoke with him was the technical details of what he was trying to teach his defensive backs. What we need back there is a guy that is going to be extremely detailed when it comes to alignments, assignments and technique.”
Faircloth also coached for two seasons at Black Hills State University in South Dakota where he helped tutor the wide receivers and assisted with special teams. Prior to that, Faircloth was an undergraduate assistant at Mars Hill for two seasons helping the Lions to the 2011 South Atlantic Conference Championship. Faircloth began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Pender High School in the 2009 season.
Faircloth earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Mars Hill University and his Masters of Education from Colorado State University in 2017.
Assistant Defensive Backs
Bart Tanski is in his first season as an assistant at Robert Morris after spending the previous three seasons on the staff of the Syracuse Orange. He served as a defensive graduate assistant in 2015-16 before taking on the position of defensive quality control coach in 2017. He worked with both the linebackers and the defensive backs during his time there in addition to lending his expertise to the special teams.
“Coach Tanski, again, came with a strong recommendation from the defensive coordinator at Syracuse University,” said Clark. “When he came on his interview, he was extremely technical and very sound in his fundamentals and I thought he would be a great addition.”
Prior to joining the Orange, Tanski worked two seasons at Findlay where he coached the team’s wide receivers (2014), outside linebackers (2014) and defensive backs (2013). While tutoring the receivers, Tanski helped develop Lloyd Henry into an All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference First Team selection and set school records for receiving yards and receptions. He also served as Findlay’s assistant special teams coordinator in 2013.
Named Ohio’s Mr. Football in 2007, Tanski was a walk-on at Bowling Green. He played quarterback and wide receiver for the Falcons, eventually earning a scholarship and serving as team co-captain in 2012.
Tanski holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from Bowling Green. He also has two master’s degrees, one in business administration from Findlay, and the other in instructional design, development and evaluation from Syracuse.