Fisher confirms Eliot is UK’s new defensive coordinator

Kentucky couldn’t announce it officially yet, but a few of the Cats’ defenders took to Twitter on Wednesday to say that D.J. Eliot will be their new defensive coordinator.

Then Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed it a few hours later at a news conference for the Orange Bowl.

Eliot, the defensive ends coach at FSU and a long-time assistant to new Cats coach Mark Stoops, is expected to formally be named to the position as early as Thursday.

Kentucky is not allowed to announce any hiring until the position has been closed and the hire has gone through the proper channels, Kentucky spokesman Tony Neely said.

UK linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree apparently couldn’t wait for the formality of all that. On Wednesday afternoon, the sophomore tweeted: “Coach Eliot is official!”

Freshman lineman Pat Graffree later added: “Got a D Coordinator, need a O Coordinator so we can put this thing together!”

In his news conference on Wednesday afternoon at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Fisher also said that both Eliot and Stoops plan to return to Tallahassee between now and Jan. 1 to assist Florida State in its bowl preparation.

The Seminoles are scheduled to play Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Eliot, 36, has been the defensive ends coach at Florida State since 2010 and helped Stoops rebuild the Seminoles into a national power defensively.

The Edmond, Okla., native has had several stops along the way with Stoops, including Wyoming (where he played linebacker for three seasons and coached) as well as Houston and Miami.

This will be Eliot’s first coordinator position.

Eliot also previously has worked at Texas State, Tulsa and Rice. While at Rice from 2007-09, he also served as recruiting coordinator. He could offer a direct channel into Texas, an area UK hasn’t emphasized in recruiting since the Hal Mumme era.

Behind Stoops and Eliot (who were hired there in 2010), Florida State went from one of the 20 worst teams in the nation defensively to an Orange Bowl and the nation’s second-highest rated defense this season.

Defensive ends had much to do with that success, including several highly regarded ends in Brandon Jenkins, Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine.

In his first radio show on Monday night, Stoops implied that Eliot would be joining him in Lexington: “The person I’m going to hire, I have great trust in and we’re very familiar with each other.”

After the Seminoles got past the Georgia Tech triple option for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship last weekend, Stoops was quick to credit his defensive ends coach with the win.

“I really got to give a shout-out to Coach Eliot who did a lot of the game-planning for this particular game,” Stoops said. “He had played these types of offenses more than I have the past couple of years prior to his arrival at Florida State, and had a good feel for them.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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