Steve Spurrier said repeatedly that today’s sports story should be focused on the top ranked USC women’s basketball team playing at second ranked UConn, but for Gamecock fans that have spent months wondering what was going to be done to galvanize a historically bad defense, this day belongs to Jon Hoke.
The HBC introduced Hoke as his new co-defensive coordinator, a title he will share with Lorenzo Ward. Hoke has spent 13 seasons as an assistant in the NFL. His last college gig was running the Florida defense for the final three seasons Spurrier was in Gainesville.
“I’m really happy and excited to return to college football and especially at the University of South Carolina with Coach Spurrier again,” said Hoke. “I’m looking forward to working with Coach Ward and the defensive staff, and our plan is to return our defense to one of the best in the SEC.”
To make room for Hoke on the staff, Grady Brown has been moved to an off the field position. Spurrier said he could add another off the field coach down the road. Spurrier said Hoke will be in charge of calling the plays. Right now the plan is for Hoke to be on the field and Whammy to be in the box on game day.
Jon Hoke Bio:
A 32-year coaching veteran, Hoke has spent the past 13 seasons as an NFL defensive backs coach, first with the Houston Texans (2002-08), then with the Chicago Bears (2009-14). He previously worked for Coach Spurrier for three seasons (1999-2001) at the University of Florida as the Gators’ defensive coordinator/secondary coach. He added the title of assistant head coach in his final two campaigns (2000-01) at Florida. In his final season with the Gators, the Florida defense ranked first in the SEC in total defense, scoring defense, and pass efficiency defense and was second in rushing defense.
While in Chicago, cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman were named to a total of four Pro Bowls under Hoke’s tutelage. From 2009-13, Chicago ranked third in the NFL in interceptions (97), second in interception return yards (1,569) and led the league with 19 interception return touchdowns. During his time with the Texans, Houston defensive backs accounted for 82.8 percent (72 of 87) of the teams’ interceptions, seventh-highest percentage in the NFL during that span and third-highest in the AFC. In 2002, he coached cornerback Aaron Glenn to the Pro Bowl.
Hoke has extensive experience in the collegiate ranks as well. He began his coaching career at Bowling Green in 1983 as the Falcons’ secondary/special teams coach. He spent four seasons in Bowling Green before taking a position as the defensive backs/special teams coach at San Diego State from 1987-88. He spent the next five years as the defensive backs coach at Kent State (1989-93), adding the title of defensive coordinator in his final season with the Golden Flashes. He mentored the defensive backs at Missouri for five seasons from 1994-98 before joining Coach Spurrier’s staff in Gainesville in 1999.
A four-year letterman at Ball State (1976-79), Hoke garnered all-MAC honors as a defensive back while earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He logged a brief stint in the NFL as a player, seeing action in 11 games for the Chicago Bears in 1980, recording seven tackles.
A native of Kettering, Ohio, Hoke and his wife, Jody, have four children: Mallory, Kyle and twins Kendall and Carly.
Lorenzo Ward joined Spurrier and Hoke at Monday’s press conference. You can listen to the Q&A below.