D.J. Eliot always will have fond memories of Kentucky and his time as its defensive coordinator, but he is excited to start a new chapter in a familiar place.
Speaking to the Herald-Leader by phone on Thursday night, just a few minutes after Colorado made it official that he was the school’s new defensive coordinator, Eliot said it was an exciting offer for his family.
“Colorado’s always been a special place for me and my wife,” he said, noting that his wife, Miekel, is from the state and that her parents live just 20 minutes from the campus.
“It’s a chance for us to not only move home but be involved in a program that has great tradition and a head coach that has done an excellent job at San Jose State and Colorado,” said Eliot, who is scheduled to start there on Friday. “We’re fired up about it.”
As for his relationship with Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops, whom he has known for more than 18 years, Eliot said nothing has changed.
“We’re wonderful; we’re doing great,” he said. “He can’t get rid of me as a friend.”
The Kentucky defensive coordinator, who came with Stoops from Florida State in 2012, had a difficult start to the season. The Cats gave up 500 or more yards in the opening two games, causing Stoops to take over the defensive play-calling duties.
By the end of the year, UK was ninth in the Southeastern Conference in total defense, yielding 434.2 yards per game and 11th in the league in scoring defense, permitting 31.3 points per game.
Next season, UK returns nine starters on defense and nine of its 11 tackles leaders, including the top four in Jordan Jones, Mike Edwards, Courtney Love and Denzil Ware.
“They’re going to do well,” Eliot said. “I feel like we’re leaving with Kentucky headed in the right direction. We’ve turned the corner.”
His family enjoyed its time in Lexington, Eliot said.
“We just have had a tremendous four years of living here and being a part of the University of Kentucky,” he told the Herald-Leader.