Joe DeForest named USC OLB Coach

December 21, 2018

LOS ANGELES—Joe DeForest, who has 29 years of collegiate coaching experience, including as a defensive analyst at USC this past season, has been promoted to outside linebackers coach at USC, Trojan football head coach Clay Helton announced today (Dec. 21).

DeForest’s hire completes the Trojans’ fulltime assistant coaching staff.  With DeForest’s hiring, Helton said that Johnny Nansen now will coach the inside linebackers while continuing in his role as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.  Helton also said that Keary Colbert now will be the wide receivers coach and Tim Drevno now will be the offensive line coach, while special teams coordinator John Baxter also will coach the tight ends.  Clancy Pendergast remains in his role as defensive coordinator.


Earlier this month, Helton announced the hirings of Kliff Kingsbury as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Chad Kauha’aha’a as defensive line coach, Mike Jinks as running backs coach and Greg Burns as secondary coach.


DeForest, 53, came to USC from Kansas, where he spent 2016 and 2017 as the Jayhawks’ special teams coordinator.


Before that, he was at West Virginia for 4 seasons (2012-15).  In his first year, he was associate head coach/defensive coordinator and coached the safeties, then he was the special teams coordinator and safeties coach in his final 3 years.  In 2014, placekicker Josh Lambert was a finalist for the 2014 Lou Groza Award and kickoff returner Mario Alford was an All-American first teamer.  West Virginia played in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl, 2014 Liberty Bowl and 2016 Cactus Bowl.


DeForest spent 11 seasons (2001-11) at Oklahoma State.  He was the special teams coordinator and secondary coach from 2001 to 2004, then was the associate head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach from 2005 to 2011.  He coached 3 Big 12 Special Teams Players of the Year (returner Dez Bryant in 2008, placekicker Dan Bailey in 2010 and placekicker/punter Quinn Sharp in 2011).  Perrish Cox (4 in 2006-09) and Justin Gilbert (6 in 2010-13) set school records for kickoff return touchdowns.  Among the future NFL players he coached were Bailey, safety Markell Martin and cornerbacks Darrent Williams and Jacob Lacey.  He was named a Top 25 recruiter in 2004, 2006 and 2008.


Oklahoma State was third in the nation in kickoff returns in 2001 behind national leader Chris Massey.  The Cowboys were 10th nationally in punt returns in 2004 and eighth in kickoff returns in 2006 as Cox earned Freshman All-American honors as a punt returner.  Punter Matt Fodge won the 2008 Ray Guy Award and Cox was an All-American kick returner while Oklahoma State was second nationally in punt returns, sixth in punting and 18th in kickoff returns.  In 2010, Bailey won the Groza Award, Sharp was an All-American first team pick and the Cowboys had 2 kick return touchdowns, a punt return TD and 2 blocked punt return scores (as well as 2 interception return TDs by his safeties).


The 2011 Cowboys went 12-1, won the Big 12 title and finished No. 3 in the polls as Sharp and Martin were All-American first teamers, while Sharp also won the Groza Award and was third nationally in punting, fifth in scoring and seventh in field goals.  Oklahoma State played in the 2002 Houston Bowl, 2004 and 2010 Cotton Bowls, 2004 and 2010 Alamo Bowls, 2006 Independence Bowl, 2007 Insight Bowl, 2008 Holiday Bowl and 2012 Fiesta Bowl.


DeForest started coaching in college at Rice for 4 years (1990-93), the first 2 seasons as an offensive graduate assistant working with the running backs and then the next 2 years as the outside linebackers coach.  Running back Trevor Cobb won the 1991 Doak Walker Award.


He then was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at Duke for 7 years (1994-2000).  Punter Brian Morton was second in the nation in punting in 2000, while Kyle Moore was ninth in kickoff returns.  He coached 2 Blue Devils, linebacker Ryan Fowler and long snapper Patrick Mannelly, who played in the NFL.  Duke played in the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl.  Current USC head coach Clay Helton was an assistant at Duke in 1995 and 1996.  


DeForest began his coaching career as the outside linebackers coach at his alma mater Titusville (Fla.) High for 2 seasons (1988-89).


He was a 4-year (1983-86) starting linebacker for Southwestern Louisiana, twice earning All-Southern Conference honors.  He also pitched 2 seasons for the Ragin’ Cajuns’ baseball team.  As a senior, he was named Southwestern Louisiana’s top male athlete.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southwestern Louisiana in 1987.


He was a linebacker and long snapper in 1987 for the NFL’s Houston Oilers (preseason) and New Orleans Saints (3 games).  He was with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders in the 1988 preseason.


He prepped at Titusville (Fla.) High.


He was born on April 17, 1965.  He and his wife, Laura, have a daughter, Ashley.


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