D. J. Eliot – CU defensive coordinator and linebackers coach


… Press release from CUBuffs.com

University of Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre announced Thursday the hiring of D.J. Eliot as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Buffaloes.

Eliot, who will arrive in town Friday in time for Colorado’s recruiting weekend, has a proposed three-year contract agreement that will be submitted for review and approval by the CU Board of Regents.

Eliot, 40, joins the Colorado staff from the University of Kentucky, where he was the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the last four seasons (2013-16) and helped coach UK to the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl, the program’s first postseason appearance since 2010.

He is a native of Edmond, Okla., who played collegiately at the University of Wyoming, and brings a total of 18 years of coaching experience to the Buffaloes.  He replaces Jim Leavitt, who served in the same role for the last two seasons in Boulder before accepting a similar position at the University of Oregon.

“I’m excited about having D.J. Eliot as our defensive coordinator, he brings a lot of expertise and energy to our defense,” MacIntyre said. “Also he is one of the great, young defensive minds in the game of college football today.”

“I am very excited to work at a great program with an excellent head coach and at a place that has always been special to me and my family,” said Eliot, whose wife is from Westminster and graduated from Northglenn High School.

Eliot’s defense at Kentucky was the same schematically as CU’s last season when the Buffs ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 in total defense.

“We are a 3-4 system that is built to apply pressure on the offense and confuse the quarterback,” Eliot said of his system.

A linebacker himself back in his playing days up north at Wyoming, Eliot over his coaching career has tutored many defensive players to numerous accolades and a future in the National Football League.

At his past two coaching stops, Kentucky and Florida State, he coached eight players who were drafted in the NFL, including a pair of first round picks. Linebacker Bud Dupree was a 2015 first round selection of the Pittsburg Steelers, Kentucky’s first player selected in the first round in 12 years, and Bjoern Werner out of Florida State went No. 24 overall to Indianapolis after playing under Eliot when he was coaching defensive ends for the Seminoles.

Werner is one of two conference defensive players of the year and All-Americans on Eliot’s resume, collecting the ACC honor in 2012 when he was a unanimous All-American. The first was linebacker Nick Bunting, the 2006 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year at Tulsa, Eliot’s one season at the school. Brandon Jenkins, a fifth round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2013, exited school at Florida State ranking ninth in school history in career sacks (22.5). He was a preseason All-American entering his senior year before missing the majority of 2012 with a Lisfranc injury.

Overall at Kentucky, he coached 11 Wildcats who earned All-SEC recognition and in three of his four years with the school one of his linebackers recorded over 100 tackles in a season. Avery Williams, currently on the Tennessee Titans roster, was the first in 2013 with 102 tackles and Josh Forrest, now with the Los Angeles Rams, topped that in 2014 with 110 tackles, a figure that ranked No. 3 in the SEC that season.

Eliot got his start in coaching along the Rocky Mountain Front Range at his alma mater, Wyoming, as a graduate assistant in 1999.  From there he went to the University of Houston as a graduate assistant for two years before landing in a similar position at Miami for the 2002 season; the Hurricanes went 12-0 and were ranked No. 1 at the end of the regular season before falling 31-24 in double overtime to Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game.

That 2002 campaign at Miami is one of many highly accomplished seasons Eliot has seen in his career.  In his second of three seasons at Rice, he helped the Owls go 10-3 and win the 2008 Texas Bowl, the programs first bowl win since 1950 and first 10-win season since 1949.

Eliot helped lead a defensive turnaround at Texas State, as the Bobcat defense went from giving up 34.8 points per game to only 20.3.  Texas State also dropped from allowing 394.6 yards per game to 313.9.

His presence at Florida State also helped lead a revival of FSU’s defense. The year prior to his arrival, the Seminoles ranked 108th in total defense and rushing defense. However, by 2012, FSU ranked second nationally in total defense (254.1 yards per game) and sixth in scoring defense (14.7 points per game).

In his three seasons at Florida State, the ‘Noles went 31-10 and he helped FSU tie for the national lead in sacks with 48 in 2010. In his second season FSU limited opponents to just 2.35 yards per carry, which led the nation in that category. His defensive ends on the 2012 team, Werner and Cornellius Carradine, combined for 24 quarterback sacks and 31 tackles for losses overall when FSU finished 12-2.

At Kentucky, the Wildcats set a new school record for defensive touchdowns scored in a season with six in 2014; UK recorded 23 takeaways that year.  UK jumped 45 places in the total defense rankings from 2013 to 2014 under Eliot, finishing in the top half of the nation in that statistic. In 2015, UK ranked 28th in the FBS in passing defense by giving up only 198.1 yards per game, the schools best pass defense in five years.

This past fall, sophomore Jordan Jones became the first player in UK history to have at least 100 tackles, 14.0 tackles for a loss and 4.0 sacks, all of which came during the season when he garnered second-team All-SEC honors by the AP and league coaches. Sophomore safety Mike Edwards finished the regular season leading all SEC defensive backs in tackles with 93 and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, including two off Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in the Cats’ 41-38 victory over No. 11 Louisville.

Eliot graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science from Wyoming in 1999 and in 2002 he earned a master’s degree in Education at Houston.  He and his wife, Miekel, have one son, Dawson, and three daughters, Drue, Page and Reace.

Spring football for the Buffs starts on Wednesday, Feb. 22 and will conclude on Saturday, March 18 with the annual spring game.

D.J. Eliot‘s Coaching History

2017-PresentColoradoDefensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2013-16KentuckyDefensive Coordinatory/Linebackers2016 TaxSlayer Bowl (L)
2010-12Florida StateDefensive Ends2013 Orange Bowl-BCS (W)
2011 Champs Sports Bowl (W)
2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl (W)
2007-09RiceRecruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line2008 Texas Bowl (W)
2006TulsaLinebackers2006 Armed Forces Bowl (L)
2003-05Texas State2004-05 – Linebackers
2003 – Defensive Backs
2005 NCAA Division I-AA playoffs (2-1 record; reached the semifinals)
2002Miami (Fla.)Graduate AssistantBCS National Championship Game (L)
2000-01HoustonGraduate Assistant
1999WyomingGraduate Assistant

NFL Draft Selections Under D.J. Eliot
– 2016 – OLB Josh Forrest, 6th Round (190th overall), Los Angeles Rams
– 2015 – OLB Bud Dupree, 1st Round (22nd overall), Pittsburgh Steelers
– 2015 – OLB Za’Darius Smith, 4th Round (122nd overall), Baltimore Ravens
– 2014 – LB Avery Williamson, 5th Round (151st overall), Tennessee Titans
– 2013 – DE Bjoern Werner, 1st Round (24th overall), Indianapolis Colts
– 2013 – DE Tank Carradine, 2nd Round (40th overall), San Francisco 49ers
– 2013 – LB Brandon Jenkins, 5th Round (162nd overall), Washington Redskins
– 2011 – DE Markus White, 7th Round (224 overall), Washington Redskins
– 2011 – DE Cheta Ozougwu, 7th Round (254th overall), Houston Texans
– 2012 – DE Scott Solomon, 7th Round (211 overall), Tennessee Titans
– 2008 – LB Chris Chamberlain, 7th Round (228th overall), St. Louis Rams




30 Replies to “Meet D.J. Eliot – CU’s new Defensive Coordinator”

  1. I’m sorry but this hire feels like the old Colorado of the last 12+ years. Very disappointed! One Question to ask yourself…when Jim left and went to Oregon every O.C. Said crap! Do you think any O.C. In the PAC-12 is really concerned? The “rise”just plateaued with this hire! We couldn’t find a young up and coming coach with better credentials? Nobody anywhere in the college world is saying this is great hire except in boulder.

  2. Since we are spinning theories, here is mine. MM knew JL would not stay long. So he hired JT a young rising DC from small program to work under JL and learn how it is done at a big program. JT was supposed to be DC successor some day. The time comes, but he gets himself in trouble. MM and RG are caught off guard. Here we are. Maybe this guy will be better anyway.

  3. Yo Stuart,

    It’s really hard to know what to think about this guy D.J. Eliot.

    Mostly because he worked for Mark Stoops, who is radically overpaid at Kentucky. The “Stoops” name is overvalued because his older brother Bob Stoops is a great coach. Stoops (Bob) has won more games at Oklahoma than anyone, and that’s saying a lot.

    At OU, Bob has won 190 games (winning nearly 80% of the time), and a national championship in his 2nd year there. Since then, however, Oklahoma has been consistently good, and the Stoops name has been golden. Not so true for the other Stoops brothers. Mark and Mike Stoops have a combined record of only 60 wins and 80 losses. Despite that abysmal record, the younger “Stoops” still get head coaching gigs based on Bob’s work at OU.

    I am hoping that D.J. Eliot will blossom once being out from under the influence of a lesser Stoops (Mark) and that Mike MacIntyre will help him really come into his own. The defensive players at Colorado know how to play under a great coordinator like Leavitt. Maybe they can help Eliot grow into the same kind of leader. Pretty please let it be so.

    I know it’s a big swig of kool-aid, but at this time of year we have to hope for the best and see what takes the field in 2017.

    Welcome to the Buffs D.J. Remember that you have some big shoes to fill, but maintaining a great D is a lot easier than building one from scratch. Kick some Pac-12 butt.


    1. Forgot this tidbit of info when I was writing the above. The “Lesser Stoops” (Mark and Mike), put together have less than 1/3 of the wins that Bob does, and 66% more losses. Bob will have to coach for another 12 years to have the same number of losses as his siblings do now. Yikes. And for that outstanding work, Mark made $3.5 Million last year at Kentucky (compared to $2 million for Mac).

  4. I never in a million years saw a 10 win season last year so lets give him the benefit of the doubt. If the D is choking 2 years from now, then we can say “I told ya so!”

  5. This site needs a little work, but I do enjoy visiting and reading the articles! With that said I have not posted here before, but have read a lot of these recent comments about coach Eliot. Give the guy a damn chance! I do think people may be bitter about the last two games, and should be!
    Colorado accomplished so much more than anyone even expected! Can we give our coach and AD a chance! I get what we read and the allegations of him losing the play calling abilities after two games, but ask yourself: Have you ever met coach Eliot, or even just talked to the guy? Do you know anything about this guy?? No we judge as fans the stats and numbers and what other people say but in sports there is always something more, always!!! Even location and family life! Just asking give him and his family a chance first. We love numbers but I want to make a prediction to you and say that Oregon is not top 8 in the conference in defense! Not top 8.

  6. Just passionate, but let’s give someone a chance first. You never know. We as fans look at resumes and assume ( I get the whole allegation of him being pulled from play calling two games in ) but without knowing the individual or circumstances you just don’t know. We as Buffs should welcome coach Eliot and trust in our coach of the year! I love opinions, but they don’t matter!! If it fails it falls on Mac, he knows, different people work better with other people. I will make a bet right now!!!! Right now!! Oregons defense will not be in the top 8 of the conference.

    1. Top 8 in what? Total Defense? Scoring? Rushing? Passing? Efficiency?

      It is a bet.

      Shroom lovers don’t see it.

      Go Buffs

  7. I know I’m a cranky old skeptic….but this bio seems to be much ado about nothing.
    They laud the team’s record he worked for as a grad assistant. whooopeee
    They laud the exceptional players as a position coach…..ok some credit.
    in his only stint as A DC HE STUNK IT UP. Even had his play calling duties revoked after 2 humiliating losses to begin the season.
    Bright young mind? Sounds to me like MM found his yes man and MM be the actual DC.
    I sure hope come December some guys like AZBuff call me out on this post and I am sitting down to a feast of crow. Right now this decision tastes pretty bitter.
    one more thing….I wonder how many guys turned MM down before this

    1. 7 weeks to get him. Wow really kept that secret until the end.

      Mac2 is special coach. Just look at his Staff.

      Go Buffs

      The O has been and will be the issue

      40% of the o staff is down level.

  8. Give the guy a chance. I get everything based on pass resumes and what people say because we have never heard of the guy. Colorado had an amazing year, sucked the last two games, but amazing year. Lets give coach and RG a damn chance. So quick to judge before you see anything at all. This is not just his philosophy he is bringing coach Mac knows. Holy crap. I want to ask you haters as well, how many time have you seen coaches get hired for a ton of money for other successes and then fail at another program. I think we all hate how the season ended and we give a lot of credit to Jim, but a lot falls on Mac as well and George and I have faith. Go Buffs and Rise Up cause I’m an Atl Buff! One last word, would be interesting to see if he could sway some of his recruits to CU ( could be interesting ) to CU the rise is real!!! To Atlanta Rise up!!

  9. I guess it could be wondered which choice this was? First? Fifth. What?
    Guess it doesn’t matter really.

    It is what it is and it belongs to the Buffs now.

    Players loved Leavitt. Well hopefully in the last 14 days before signing day he can:

    1. Get a lesson from Chev on twitter and crank it up.
    2. Turn on his Leavitt personality and offer all the KY recruits immediately
    3. Meet the D players and win em over immediately.
    4. Do well at his press conference. (Gonna get some tough questions? HMMM)

    Can’t wait. Gonna have to.

    Go Buffs.

  10. Since he has it’s own headline.

    I waited to see Lindgren’s offense. Once I did, then I knew.

    I waited to see Baer’s deffense. Once I Did I knew

    I waited to see Leavitt’s defense. Once I Did I knew.

    I will wait to see Eliot’s defense. Then I will know.

    But I must say this link is ”Is the look of Lindgren


    Go Buffs

    1. VK this hire is as intriguing as the last. Leavitt certainly had a stronger overall resume, along with a disturbing indictment. JL kept his nose clean while at CU, and for that I am grateful.

      Eliot has a similar issue in that he shows completely opposite abilities. The FSU experience screams competence, while the “demotion” at KY indicates incompetence.

      Eventually we will know.

    2. Yeah, but I think most of us might look like that if we had to endure any of the Stoops brothers sideline behavior.

    3. I keep seeing this picture everywhere. It has an ominous “Sgt. Carter/Gomer Pyle” feel to it. I trust Mac, I just hope he wasn’t in the 11th hour mode when he pulled the trigger on this one.

  11. Welcome DJ! You come on board with a solid foundation, great starters and a great current recruiting class. Welcome to the PAC-12.

  12. I’m the type of person who says, “don’t knock it til ya try it…” So, I won’t make any judgements on this hire until a few meaningful games are played.

    With that said, on paper, this hiring is not what I had in mind. Would’ve rather seen Ryan Walters come home. He’s an up and coming star. I’ve known him since elementary school (Whittier elementary in boulder) and always knew he was going to do big things in the sports world. He’s co-DC at Mizzou and bleeds buffalo black and gold, just like his father, Marc, who is also a great man.

    Ok, DJ, strut your stuff. Bring out the best in the squad and prove all the naysayers wrong. I won’t judge you until you’ve been battle tested.


  13. I’m really disappointed by this DC hire. Reading the Kentucky reaction to this news, there was no love lost for DJ Eliot leaving (it was felt it was a good thing for Kentucky football). Compare the angst in Colorado when Leavitt left with the reaction in Kentucky over DJ leaving and it is like whew, Colorado did us a huge favor. His resume doesn’t come close to comparing with Leavitt’s. There is absolutely no indication or explanation why he would be considered for this position. His body of work doesn’t seem to indicate he deserves to be a PAC-12 DC. I still contend that Mac’s relationship with Leavitt was acrimonious and so he was looking for someone younger that he would relate to better. Also, why did it take so long to hire Eliot when he has been available since the end of their season? I have to believe Mac was looking for an NFL coach whose team was still playing and when he could get him, he settled for Eliot. Of course Mac will say he was recruiting and didn’t have the time to pursue the new DC. This is a real head scratcher.

    As everyone has pointed out, Eliot wasn’t even calling the plays for the Kentucky defense over the last 10 games of last season. Really… and now he’s our new DC. That doesn’t give anyone confidence this guy can get it done! And to look at the stats the Kentucky defense put up, they were mired down in the bottom half (familiar territory for Colorado before JL) of college Div 1 football. What is there to make Mac believe in this guy. Mac has done wonders with his hires so I have to believe he knows what he is doing this time. I’m ready to be surprised!

    Go Buffs!

  14. Much more encouraging resume this time around. Thank you for elaborating. I’m still curious why his play calling duties were taken away two games into this past season, however. Can you elaborate on what happened there, Stuart? Certainly Coach Mac is going to allow him to call plays again!? Seems like he’s more of a Colorado-type guy who just might stay around for more than two years.

    1. A 44-35 loss to Southern Mississippi; a 45-7 loss to Florida; then 42 points surrendered in a 62-42 shootout with New Mexico State.
      I’m sure Eliot will be asked about his “reduced role” in play calling when he starts his interviews with the local media, but I’m not sure how you can make the start of the 2016 season look or sound good.

      1. I and many others, I’m sure, will be listening carefully to his response to that question. I may be even more interested, however, in hearing Coach Mac’s response to the same question.

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