A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ky. Coach Mark Stoops elevates Steve Clickscale, Jon Sumrall with expanded defensive coaching rolls


Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has announced that defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale and inside linebackers coach Jon Sumrall have been elevated to defensive passing game coordinator and co-defensive coordinator, respectively.

“Coach Clinkscale has had major input in our defensive scheme since his arrival here at UK,” Stoops said. “He’s not only had a major role in our program defensively but in recruiting as well. He’s brings a lot of experience to our staff as he has been a defensive coordinator and he will only continue to build on that here.”

“I’m also pleased to announce that Jon Sumrall has earned the title of co-defensive coordinator,” Stoops said. “He is more than capable of being a Power 5 defensive coordinator. He has turned down multiple opportunities to do so and stay at his alma mater because he loves this place.”

Clinkscale is entering his sixth season on Stoops’ staff.

In his first season in 2016, Clinkscale’s defensive backs snagged all 13 of UK’s interceptions. All-Southeastern Conference safety Mike Edwards, now a Super Bowl champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, paced the unit with 100 tackles, three pickoffs and eight pass breakups. Cornerback Derrick Baity and safety Blake McClain also had three picks apiece.

In his second season, Clinkscale’s DBs had nine of UK’s 11 interceptions, and once again, Edwards was the leading tackler. The safety led the entire defense with 97 tackles and four INTs and was named first-team All-SEC by Phil Steele’s College Football.

The 2018 season was one to remember as Kentucky went 10–3 overall and the Wildcats were ranked 12th in the final AP Poll, the most wins and highest poll finish for the program since 1977. Once again, Edwards shined for the Cats in the secondary. He ended his career with 10 career interceptions and ranked ninth nationally in career INTs. His two career pick-sixes ranked third among all active players. He also became just the second DB in school history to chart 300 or more career tackles, and he became a three-time All-SEC selection.

Four of Clinkscale’s defensive backs from 2018 earned a spot in the NFL as UK cornerback Lonnie Johnson was drafted by the Houston Texans in the second round. Edwards was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 36th pick in the third round of the NFL draft. Baity and Chris Westry went on to sign free-agent contracts.

In 2019, Clinkscale faced a huge rebuilding task after losing the top six defensive backs from the 2018 season. The young UK secondary responded with a remarkable performance, ranking second in the nation in fewest touchdown passes allowed (9) and third nationally in passing yards allowed per game (167.8). UK advanced to its fourth straight bowl game, defeating Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl.

In 2020, Kentucky capped the most unusual of seasons with an impressive victory in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, the program’s third consecutive bowl victory, tying the school record set from 2006-08. The 23-21 victory over No. 24 NC State also marked the second win over a ranked team in the 2020 season. UK also defeated No. 18 Tennessee.

The Wildcats intercepted 16 passes on the season, including three in the Gator Bowl. The 16 interceptions led the SEC and ranked third nationally. Eight of them came from the secondary. Clinkscale tutored cornerback Kelvin Joseph, who led the team with four interceptions and earned fourth team All-SEC honors by Phil Steele. Kentucky also led the SEC in passing defense (224.6 yards per game) and ranked third in pass efficiency defense in 2020.

Sumrall, a three-year letterwinner at middle linebacker at Kentucky from 2002-04, enters his third season at his alma mater. Like Clinkscale, Sumrall’s passion for the game is contagious and he has an outstanding ability to connect with players.

In 2020, starting linebackers Jamin Davis and DeAndre Square were two of the top three tacklers in combining for 162 total tackles. Davis made a huge impact under Sumrall’s tutelage, making 102 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three interceptions, two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry, one blocked kick, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. He ranked fourth in the SEC in tackles per game (10.2) and was a first-team All-SEC selection by ProFootballFocus and a second-team All-SEC choice by Phil Steele.

In his first season in 2019, Sumrall oversaw an effective four-man rotation at the middle and weakside linebacker positions. Square was second on the team in tackles with 69, while Kash Daniel was third with 58. Chris Oats (46) and Davis (32) completed the group. UK’s defense helped keep every opponent at or below 30 points, the first time the Wildcats had done that since 1979. UK ended the season with a thrilling win over Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl, UK’s fourth straight bowl appearance.

From UK Athletics


Related Posts

Leave a Comment