By LARRY VAUGHT
11:34 AM EST, December 7, 2012
After hinting as soon as he was hired that he knew who his defensive coordinator would be, new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops made it official Thursday when he named D.J. Eliot as UK’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Stoops was defensive coordinator at Florida State and Eliot coached the defensive ends for the Seminoles the last three years. This season the Seminoles were 11-2, won the Atlantic Coast Conference, earned a berth in the Orange Bowl and had one of the nation’s top-ranked defenses.
“D.J. is one of the brightest young minds in college football,” said Stoops, who has coached with Eliot at Wyoming, Houston, Miami (Fla.) and FSU, in a release from Kentucky. “He has a relentless work ethic and is extremely detailed. I’m very pleased he has joined the Big Blue Nation.”
Florida State ranked second nationally in total defense (253.8 yards per game), fifth in rushing defense (93 yards per game) and seventh in scoring defense (15.1 points per game). The previous two years the Seminoles ranked among the nation’s top 10 teams in sacks and top 25 in tackles for loss.
“I’m very excited with the opportunity to coach at Kentucky and continue to work with Coach Stoops,” Eliot, 36, said. “I believe in the potential of UK and look forward to being on this staff.”
Eliot had two all-ACC performers this season, including conference defensive player of the year Bjoern Werner (13 sacks). Cornellius Carradine has 11 sacks and the two have combined for 31 tackles for loss. Another former player, Markus White, is in his third season in the NFL and was part of a 2010 defense that led the nation in sacks with 48.
Stoops coached defensive backs at Wyoming when Eliot played linebacker. The two coached together there in 1999 when Eliot was a graduate assistant coach. The next year Stoops went to Houston as co-defensive coordinator and Eliot came as graduate assistant. Eliot rejoined Stoops at Miami in 2002 when Miami went 12-1 and went to the Fiesta Bowl.
Eliot took his first full-time job at Texas State in 2003 and the defense made dramatic improvements in three years before he left for Tulsa in 2006. He also spent three years at Rice from 2007-2009 as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach.
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