Panthers Defense looking to Regain its Intensity

When new Head Coach Ron Turner began his era at FIU, he brought in an entirely new coaching staff. His defensive staff is very diverse, with the experience column ranging from former NFL coaches to recent college graduates as defensive assistants.

 The defense is in the hands of Josh Conklin. Conklin comes to FIU after being the safeties coach at the University of Tennessee last season. The Volunteers ranked 107 in the nation in points against after the 2012 season.

 Before coaching for the Vols, Conklin was the defensive coordinator for the Citadel for two seasons in 2010 and 2011 after being the defensive backs coach for Wofford from 2007 to 2009. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, SDSU, as a defensive graduate assistant before being both a special teams and defensive coach for two seasons.

Conklin has the burden of rebuilding a defense that was ranked 97th in points allowed last season.

 Bringing in the most NFL experience is defensive line coach Andre Patterson. He has had coaching stints all around the country at every level of football from high school to professional over a 30-year career.

 His career, which started at the University of Montana in 1982, has spanned 14 seasons in college football, 10 years working in the NFL and five seasons at the start of career as a high school head coach.

Defensive backs coach Jason Brooks this season for the Panthers, recently obtained the dream of every football player or coach: being a part of the Super Bowl. Brooks has worked for the past four seasons in Baltimore on the offensive staff for the Super Bowl XLVII champion Ravens. He and his father, Clarence Brooks, the offensive line coach for the Ravens, were both on the same coaching staff.

 Brooks will be coaching defense for the first time since 2007 when he was an assistant secondary coach at the University of Massachusetts.

 Tom Williams also comes to FIU from UTEP as the linebackers coach. With over 20 years of experience, including three seasons under Jack Del Rio with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

 The linebackers coach also has dealt with some of the most intelligent athletes in the game of football with his work at Yale University and the University of Stanford.

 Williams was a four-time letterman for famous head coach Bill Walsh while playing at Stanford, which is also where he got his coaching start.

 The two graduate assistants for the defense are second year assistant Matt Garris, a former linebacker who played for FIU from 2006-2008 and Mike Hiestand. Hiestand was a letterman for the Illinois State Redbirds before having a career ending injury in 2011, his first coaching job was as a graduate for the University of Miami at Ohio.

About the Author

Rhys Williams
: Sports Director, Class of 2016, Physical Education: Coaching (Major), Communication Arts (Minor), Sports Enthusiast with a Focus on Football and Track & Field.

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