In hiring D.J. Eliot, Mark Stoops gets a top recruiter

By coaxing Florida State defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot to be his first defensive coordinator at Kentucky, as has been reported by, Mark Stoops has hired someone with many recruiting ties west of the Mississippi.

The 36-year-old Eliot is a native of Edmond, Oklahoma who was playing at Wyoming when Stoops was an assistant coach there under Dama Dimel, who had served on Bill Snyder’s staff at Kansas State with Stoops’ brothers, Bob and Mike. When injuries forced Eliot to give up football, he became a student assistant coach and developed a close relationship with Mark Stoops.

The two coached together under Dimel at Houston. Stoops left for Miami to be defensive backs coach and a year later Eliot joined the Hurricanes as a graduate assistant. In 2003, Eliot joined David Bailiff’s staff at Texas State. In 2006, Eliot coached under Steve Kragthorpe at Tulsa. When Kragthorpe left Tulsa for Louisville in 2007, Eliot re-joined Bailiff, this time at Rice.

Eliot spent three years as the Owls’ defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Rice went 10-3 in 2008 and won the Texas Bowl.¬†When Stoops was hired by Jimbo Fisher to be defensive coordinator at Florida State after the 2009 season, Stoops brought Eliot along as defensive ends coach.

That means Eliot has recruiting ties in Oklahoma, Wyoming, Texas and Florida. He was credited with recruiting defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. out of the Houston area to FSU.

He didn’t do a bad job coaching, either. His pupil, defensive end Bjorn Werner, was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. And Stoops credited Eliot with playing a major role in developing the game plan that stopped Georgia Tech’s triple option in the Seminoles’ 21-15 win in the ACC Championship game.

“I really got to give a shout-out to Coach Eliot who did a lot of the game-planning for this particular game,” Stoops said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “He had played these types of offenses more than I have the past couple of years prior to his arrival at Florida State, and had a good feel for them.”

At his introductory press conference on Sunday, Mark Stoops said he had his defensive coordinator targeted and ready to come. It has been thought all along that Eliot was his choice.

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