Defensive coordinator Josh Conklin is leaving The Citadel football coaching staff after being hired on Friday to coach safeties at the University of Tennessee. Denny Doornbos, who coaches the Bulldog defensive linemen and serves as assistant head coach, has been named to replace Conklin as defensive coordinator.
“We wish Josh the best in his new role at Tennessee,” said Citadel head coach Kevin Higgins. “Josh did a great job with our defense the past two seasons. He will make a difference for the Volunteers.”
The past two years Conklin has led a defense that has ranked among the best in the Southern Conference. In his first season in 2010, the Bulldogs ranked third in the conference in total defense, allowing 338.4 yards per game.
A year ago, The Citadel allowed averages of 23.4 points and 343.8 yards an outing to rank second and third, respectively, in the league. Only three conference opponents scored more than 20 points, and only South Carolina reached that total over the second half of the season.
Under Conklin’s leadership, defensive end Erik Clanton tied for 12th in the FCS in sacks in 2010, earning him a contract with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes and a free agent tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cornerback Cortez Allen, who wrapped up his Citadel career in 2010, was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft and played in 15 games as a rookie.
“Josh brings successful coordinator experience and consistent secondary production to our defensive staff,” said Volunteer head coach Derek Dooley. “He comes highly recommended and I believe will be a great fit for our football staff.”
Doornbos is in his third season on The Citadel coaching staff. Last season two of his pupils – defensive tackle Derek Douglas and defensive end Chris Billingslea – were named to the All-Southern Conference team, with Douglas earning first team accolades after ranking fifth in the league with 14.5 tackles for loss.
“We are excited that Denny will be promoted to defensive coordinator,” said Higgins. “He was very instrumental in implementing our current defensive package. He brings a wealth of experience having been a coordinator at West Point and Northern Illinois.”
Doornbos came to The Citadel from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisc., where he was the defensive coordinator. In his lone season on the staff in 2009, the Green Knights posted a record of 9-1, finished second in their conference in total defense and recorded two shutouts, the first at St. Norbert since 1952.
Prior to his stay at St. Norbert, Doornbos spent five seasons at Northern Illinois. He coached the linebackers in 2003 before being promoted to defensive coordinator the following year and staying in that role through the 2007 campaign.
In 2003 Northern Illinois became the first Mid-American Conference team to defeat three BCS schools en route to a 10-2 record. The following year the Huskies went 9-3 and won the Silicon Valley Bowl, won a second straight MAC Western Division title and led the conference in scoring defense in 2005 and earned a berth opposite TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl following the 2006 season.
Doornbos, who has over 30 years of coaching experience, spent 13 years at Army (1986-99) and was defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach for nine years. He was the defensive coordinator at UTEP from 1983-85 and also spent time on coaching staffs at Michigan (1982), Kent State (1981), Boston College (1980) and Illinois (1978-79).