Dean Hood, a familiar name for football fans around the Commonwealth, returns to the Bluegrass to join Mark Stoops’ staff as the special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach, it was announced Wednesday. Hood spent 13 years at Eastern Kentucky in Richmond, Kentucky, including eight seasons as the head coach from 2008-15.
“I could not be more excited to have Coach Hood join our staff,” Stoops said. “He brings extensive experience and knowledge as a head coach, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Having watched him at Eastern Kentucky, I developed great respect for him and I know he is held in high regard by the high school coaches in the state. He is a welcome addition to our program.”
Hood, who has 29 years of college coaching experience, spent the 2016 season as the assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Charlotte. Prior to that, he was the head coach at EKU, leading the Colonels to two Ohio Valley Conference Championships, three FCS Playoff appearances and an overall record of 55-38 (59.1). In 2008 he was named the OVC Coach of the Year and in 2011 he was the American Football Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year. He also was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, which goes to the best coach in FCS football, in both the 2008 and 2014 seasons.
With Hood at the helm, EKU produced nine All-Americans, one OVC Offensive Player of the Year, one OVC Defensive Player of the Year, one OVC Freshman of the Year and 26 first team all-conference performers. Three of his former players have seen success in the professional ranks as Matt Langel is a tight end for the Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots; Noah Spence, a defensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was named to Gil Brandt’s 2016 NFL All-Rookie Team after charting 22 tackles, including 5.5 sacks in 2016 and Jordan Berry is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting punter who set the team’s single regular-season record highest punting average (40.2) in 2016.
“I am from northeast Ohio and I take a lot of pride from being from there,” Hood said. “Being from Ohio I have followed the Stoops family for a long time and they are known for being tough, hard-working and family oriented. All of those things are important to me as well. When I was coaching at Wake Forest and we had to play against Florida State, I noticed how well the defense played once Coach Stoops got there. They were very tough to play against. Also, being 17 miles away at EKU, I was always impressed with him and the discipline of his program. I was impressed with how he presented himself in the media and public with an honest and let’s-go-to-work attitude and how they have put together a really good strategic recruiting plan. I’m excited and honored to be a part of his staff.”
Before EKU, Hood spent seven years (2001-07) as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Wake Forest and his defensive units were known for creating turnovers and scoring touchdowns. The Demon Deacons forced 186 turnovers during his tenure, more than two per game.
In 2006, Hood helped the Demon Deacons win the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship for the first time since 1970 with an impressive 11-3 record (the most wins in school history). His defense ranked second in the conference, allowing just 15.4 points per game, while leading the league in interceptions with 22, second most in the nation. Against the run, Wake yielded just 105.8 yards per game, 21st nationally and the third lowest total in Wake Forest history. Wake Forest earned its first and only BCS Bowl bid, facing Louisville in the FedEx Orange Bowl.
The following season, Wake Forest led the ACC with 35 forced turnovers on its way to finishing 9-4 and capturing the Meineke Car Care Bowl title with a 24-10 win over Connecticut.
Hood’s defenders earned All-ACC mention 14 times. That list included four NFL draft picks – Calvin Pace, Montique Sharpe, Eric King and Josh Gattis.
Hood’s first coaching stop was at Fairmont (W.Va.) State working with the defensive backs (1987-88). The 1988 team won the WVIAC championship and led the nation with 31 interceptions. He then spent time at Colgate (1989), Glenville (W.Va.) State (1990-93) and Ohio University (1999-2000).
At Glenville, Hood helped the 1993 team finish 10-3 with an appearance in the NAIA Division I championship game and his defense led the nation in scoring, allowing just 9.2 points per game, 118 passing yards per game and 223 total yards per game.
During his two seasons at Ohio as the defensive backs coach, Hood’s 1999 defensive unit charted 17 interceptions, the most in more than a decade. In 2000, Ohio ranked 20th nationally in defense, allowing 18.9 points per game. His defense was one of only five programs in Division I-A that did not allow more than 30 points in a game through the entire season.
He also had a previous five-year stint at EKU as the Colonels’ secondary coach (1994-96) and defensive coordinator/secondary coach (1997-98) under College Football Hall of Fame head coach Roy Kidd.
Hood, a native of Ashtabula, Ohio, earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Ohio Wesleyan in 1986 and a master’s degree in physical education from West Virginia in 1989.
At Ohio Wesleyan, he was a three-time all-North Coast Athletic Conference selection as a defensive back. He was elected captain two seasons and was a first-team All-American as a senior. In 2001, he was inducted into the OWU Athletic Hall of Fame.
He and his wife, Crystal, originally from Richmond have four children – two sons, Trey and Daven, and two daughters, Jada and Cordia.
LeBlanc joins UK staff
Derrick LeBlanc has been named the defensive line coach at Kentucky, Stoops also announced Wednesday.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here at Kentucky with Coach Stoops and his staff,” LeBlanc said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to teach the young guys at UK and coach in the Southeastern Conference. Coach Stoops is a great defensive mind and he’s a great teacher of the game. On the outside looking in, there’s always been the potential to win at Kentucky and Coach Stoops has found a way to get it going in that direction and I’m looking forward to working with him and these players.”
LeBlanc joins the Wildcat program after one season as the defensive line coach at North Texas. He was a part of the Mean Green’s remarkable turnaround from winning just one game in 2015 to five wins and an appearance in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2016. The Mean Green defense ranked 13th nationally in defensive turnaround in points per game, allowing 41.2 ppg in 2015 and 32.6 in 2016. They also ranked third in Conference USA in pass defense, allowing just 200.2 yards per game. LeBlanc went to North Texas after one season as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss.
“I’ve known Derrick and watched his progress as a coach,” Stoops said. “I was super-impressed with his interview, with the organization of his teaching and how good he is as an instructor. Fundamentals are important at every position but especially in the defensive line and I believe Derrick will be a great teacher of proper technique and fundamentals.”
During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, LeBlanc helped revitalize the defensive line at Southern Miss. In his first year he managed a defensive line led by Khyri Thornton, who was named second team All-Conference USA and selected in the third round (85th overall pick) to the Green Bay Packers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Under LeBlanc’s tutelage, Thornton recorded 39 tackles, including 16 solo tackles and 23 assisted tackles. He also coached first-team All-Conference USA selection Rakeem Nunez-Roches, now going into this third season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
LeBlanc joined the Golden Eagle staff after spending the 2012 season coaching the defensive line at the University of Wyoming for head coach Dave Christensen. Though his tenure there was brief, LeBlanc made a lasting impact on the Cowboy program, coaching defensive tackle Mike Purcell to All-Mountain West Conference first team honors. Purcell was third on the team in tackles, a tough mark to achieve for an interior lineman, with 83 while recording eight tackles for loss. Purcell was also one of two Wyoming seniors selected to play in a postseason collegiate all-star game. He currently is a nose tackle for the San Francisco 49ers.
LeBlanc went to Wyoming from LSU, where he was an assistant strength and conditioning coordinator from 2008-11 under head coach Les Miles. He also assisted with on-campus recruiting and during his four years with the Tigers, the team captured the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl Championship, faced Penn State in the Capital One Bowl following the 2009 season, defeated Texas A&M for the Cotton Bowl Championship following the 2010 season and in 2011 captured the SEC Championship and earned a berth in the BCS National Championship Game.
Prior to LSU, LeBlanc was the defensive line coach and academic coordinator at Arkansas Tech for the 2005 season. He went from there to Missouri State in Springfield, Mo., coaching the defensive line in 2006 and 2007.
LeBlanc’s first full-time college coaching position was at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark. He coached the defensive line and was the school’s strength and conditioning coordinator for four seasons from 2001-04.
He began his coaching career in 1997 at Breaux Bridge High School in Breaux Bridge, La., where he was the offensive and defensive line coach for three seasons from 1997-99. LeBlanc broke into the college ranks in 2000 when he accepted a graduate assistant position at LSU. There he assisted then-defensive line coach Pete Jenkins in coaching the defensive line, as well as assisting the strength and conditioning staff.
LeBlanc, a native of Breaux Bridge, La., was a four-year football letterman at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., from 1992-96. He played both defensive and offensive line during his playing career, and earned Southland Conference All-Academic honors as both a junior and senior. He graduated from Northwestern State with a degree in business administration and earned a master’s degree in sports administration from LSU.
He and his wife, Niema, have two sons, Dayton and Derrick, and one daughter, Kennedy.
From UK Athletics