Forget, for a second, the offense in Purdue's football plans. New coach Darrell Hazell made a big statement by hiring Greg Hudson as his new defensive coordinator.
Hudson was the assistant head coach and linebacker coach at Florida State, which wound up as the nation's No. 2 defense behind Alabama this past season. Three years ago the Seminoles' defense ranked No. 108.
Hudson previously was the defensive coordinator at East Carolina and at Minnesota. He also was an assistant coach at Cincinnati. He was a linebacker and a baseball catcher at Notre Dame in the late 1980s.
“Greg brings a high level of energy and expertise to our defense,” Hazell said in a university release. “He is an extremely bright coach with the proven ability to stop multiple offensive schemes in a number of top conferences.”
Hazell announced six assistant coaches on Friday afternoon. Three of them came from his Kent State staff: cornerbacks coach Jon Heacock, linebackers coach Marcus Freeman and running backs coach Jafar Williams.
Offensive line coach Jim Bollman comes from Boston College. Wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman comes from Virginia Tech.
Also, Doug Davis is the strength and conditioning coach, while Tommy Cook is the supervisor of football operations. Cook and Davis also come from Kent State.
Bollman was the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Boston College last season after spending 11 years as the offensive coordinator and line coach at Ohio State. He was on the staff of the Buckeyes' 14-0 2002 national title squad.
He helped develop Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith. Fifteen of his lineman played in the NFL. Bollman also coached in the NFL with the Eagles and the Bears.
Bollman and Hazell, a former Ohio State receivers coach, worked together in Columbus.
“I know (Bollman) is among the top line coaches in the nation,” Hazell said. “He has the credentials that matter with players and recruits.”
Freeman was the linebackers coach at Kent State the past two seasons. He was a two-time All-Big Ten player for Ohio State, graduating in 2008.
“Marcus is perhaps the top up-and-coming coach in the profession,” Hazell said. “His teaching method and style is unique.”
Heacock was Kent State's defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach the past two seasons. The Golden Flashes led the nation in turnover margin last season and ranked in the top half of most Mid-American Conference defensive statistics.
Before that he was the head coach at Youngstown State, compiling a 60-44 record with one national semifinal berth. He also was the defensive coordinator at Indiana from 1997-99.
“John is a master at teaching the game,” Hazell said. “The players will understand the concepts and schemes of the defense so well, they will be an extension of the coaching staff on the field. He has recruited the Midwest and Florida with phenomenal results.”
Sherman spent the past seven years as the receivers coach at Virginia Tech. He coached the two best receivers in school history in Jarrett Boykin (184 catches, 2,884 yards, 18 touchdowns) and Danny Coale (165 catches, 2,658 yards, 8 TDs). Virginia Tech was 60-22 with seven bowl appearances, including three Orange Bowls and one Sugar Bowl, during his time there. He also was a receivers coach at Wake Forest and Ohio.
“Great coach, mentor and person,” Hazell said. “He has a real passion to make everyone around him better. His expertise and knowledge of the position places him among the top coaches in the profession. He is a tremendous recruiter who has excelled in assessing and assembling the top prospects east of the Mississippi River.”
At Kent State Williams helped develop one of the nation's best rushing tandems in Dri Archer and Traylon Durham. Archer rushed for 1,429 yards and added 39 catches for 561 yards. Durham rushed for 1,316 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Williams previously was the receivers coach at Howard and Illinois State. He was a standout receiver at Maryland and finished with 90 catches for 1,301 yards.
“Jafar will elevate the play of our running backs to the highest competitive level across the country,” Hazell said. “He has recruited Ohio and Pennsylvania with superb results.”
Davis met Hazell while serving as an assistant strength coach for four years at Ohio State. He designed and implemented the Buckeyes' year-round training program. He previously was the strength and conditioning coach at South Florida.
“Known to be one of the best strength coaches in the country, Doug is a phenomenal motivator with a wealth of old and new training knowledge,” Hazell said. “He has a great relationship with the players he trains. He gets every ounce out of each of his athletes.”
The biggest remaining spot to fill is offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Hazell and athletic director Morgan Burke have said they want to embrace Purdue's passing and offensive tradition. While the offensive coordinator will call the plays, Hazell will have input.
One reported candidate, former Jets quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, has reportedly taken the Chicago Bears quarterbacks coach job.
Hazell also will hire a tight ends coach and a defensive line coach.