If you haven’t been following the Washington Football team since their Alamo Bowl loss to Baylor, boy have you missed a lot. After watching a whopping 123 combined points put on the board by the Huskies and Bears, you couldn’t help but wonder how Nick Holt would retain his job as Defensive Coordinator for UW. As expected, two days later Holt as well as Linebackers coach Mike Cox and Safeties coach Jeff Mills were relieved of their duties. But who did the university deem qualified enough to turn around a reeling defense that hasn’t seen success since 2003? Step in Justin Wilcox, former Defensive Coordinator at Tennessee.
Who is Justin Wilcox?
A 35-year-old native of Junction City, Oregon, Wilcox was (unfortunately) a graduate of the University of Oregon where he played defensive back for the Ducks from 1996-1999. Following his college days, and unable to make a final roster in the NFL, Wilcox became a Graduate Assistant on the Boise State coaching staff in 2001. After two seasons in Boise, he was offered the Linebackers coaching position by Jeff Tedford of Cal, which he accepted. Three seasons later, Wilcox found himself back on the “smurf turf,” but now as the Defensive Coordinator for Boise State. Four years at the helm of the WAC’s top-ranked defense, Wilcox alongside head coach Chris Peterson went 49-4 and captured the nation’s spotlight. In 2010 the Tennessee Volunteers came knocking and hired him as their new D-Coordinator. Two seasons in Knoxville and then here we are today, now the new DC on Montlake. Here’s what he said about his new job: “I’m grateful for this opportunity. Washington is a place where you can win big, and I’m excited to work with Coach Sarkisian in developing a championship-caliber football program. Our first order of business is hitting the recruiting trail, and I can’t wait to get started.”
As a Husky fan, you should be excited about this hire, as Wilcox has shown a lot of success with little to work with. Perfect fit, right? Last season he led a Vols defense that ranked 28th nationally in yards allowed (340.5 yds/gm). That’s 85.8 yards better than the sorry excuse that the Huskies fielded. Just for a little perspective, the last time the Huskies held their opponents under that mark was way back in 1996, when Jim Lambright’s defensive prowess was on full display. To make it even more impressive, Wilcox was able to accomplish this with all three starting linebackers being freshman.