Sidelines with John Clay

Josh Allen’s award speaks to Mark Stoops’ shrewd hiring of assistant

It was a Big Monday for Josh Allen.

First, Kentucky’s star outside linebacker was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. Then Monday night, Allen won the Bronko Nagurski Award from the Charlotte Touchdown Club for being the nation’s top defensive player.

Mark Stoops was there for the presentation, and the UK coach brought along a couple of coaches who played large roles in Allen’s development. One was defensive coordinator Matt House. The other was outside linebackers coach Brad White.

Surely one of the keys to Kentucky’s defensive surge in 2018 was the shrewd hiring of White. When a new NCAA rule allowed football programs to add a 10th full-time assistant, Stoops hired White, who had played at Wake Forest when current UK assistant Dean Hood was the Deacons’ defensive coordinator.

More than that, White had spent the previous six years on the defensive staff of the Indianapolis Colts. First as a quality control assistant and then an assistant linebackers coach, White worked his way up the ranks to become outside linebackers coach from 2015 through 2017.

White worked under Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. In 2001, when Pagano followed University of Miami head coach Butch Davis to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, Davis’ successor, Larry Coker, hired Mark Stoops to be his secondary coach. When Pagano was fired as the Colts’ head coach after last season, Stoops hired White.

Though the two had not worked together previously, Stoops like White’s NFL experience and his reputation for being a terrific technician and teacher. The UK coach felt White could help Allen get to the next level in his development. And the assistant coach did just that.

First, Allen worked in the off-season to put on an extra 20 pounds. He carried that weight throughout the season and finished with an SEC-best 14 sacks. He also recorded 18.5 tackles for loss. According to Pro Football Focus, which named Allen to its All-American team, the UK linebacker was the best edge rusher in the nation. Allen is also PFF’s pick to win the Butkus Award for the nation’s best linebacker.

And surely the job Stoops, House and White did in developing Allen played in a role in Louisville Moore four-star defensive end JJ Weaver committing to UK last Friday. Weaver is ranked the No. 13 weakside defensive end nationally by Rivals.

Oh yeah, Stoops was also named SEC Coach of the Year by the AP on Monday. Another recruiting plus.

Bronco Nagurski Award Winners

1993Rob WaldropArizona
1994Warren SappMiami
1995Pat FitzgeraldNorthwestern
1996Pat FitzgeraldNorthwestern
1997Charles WoodsonMichigan
1998Champ BaileyGeorgia
1999Corey MooreVirgnia Tech
2000Dan MorganMiami
2001Roy WilliamsOklahoma
2002Terrell SuggsArizona State
2003Derrick StraitOklahoma
2004Derrick JohnsonTexas
2005Elvis DumervilLouisville
2006James LaurinaitisOhio State
2007Glenn DorseyLSU
2008Brian OrakpoTexas
2009Ndamukong SuhNebraska
2010Da’Quan BowersClemson
2011Luke KuechlyBoston College
2012Manti Te’oNotre Dame
2013Aaron DonaldPittsburgh
2014Scooby WrightArizona
2015Tyler MatakevichTemple
2016Jonathan AllenAlabama
2017Bradley ChubbNC State
2018Josh AllenKentucky
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