College Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hires Jess Simpson To Be D-Line Coach

The University of Miami has found its new defensive line coach.

The school made an official announcement Friday, confirming Wednesday’s report, that it has hired Jess Simpson to be its new defensive line coach.

“We are excited to welcome Jess to our Miami family,” Canes head coach Mark Richt said in the release. “He has proven to be a great leader of men, and he brings a high level of energy, enthusiasm and expertise to our coaching staff.”

Simpson spent one season (2017-18) working as a defensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons. Before that, he had a one-year stint as Georgia State University’s defensive line/assistant head coach.

The most impressive part of Simpson’s resume comes from his time as a high school coach. The Auburn alum and former player spent 12 seasons at Buford High, leading his team to seven state titles and a 162-12 record in that span – etching his name in the Peach State’s prep football record books.

“On every front, we are really excited,” Simpson said. “This is really turning the page and starting a new chapter for me and my family. Ultimately it was about the people and certainly this decision – to work for Mark Richt and having this opportunity at Miami in the defensive line room – was too good to pass up.”

Simpson will replace Craig Kuligowski, who left Coral Gables to join Alabama’s coaching staff as its D-Line coach.

Replacing “Coach Kool” – a well-respected and highly-regarded defensive line coach with an extensive resume of successful pupils under his tutelage – will be no easy task for Simpson.

Miami’s defensive line saw significant gains – both individually and collectively – under Kuligowski’s direction.

Simpson will inherit a defensive line that was hit hard by graduation (Chad Thomas and Anthony Moten) and early departures (RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton) but still has some talented pieces.

UM appears to be set at the defensive end spots with Joe Jackson poised to enter his junior season and Demetrius Jackson, who is rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, returning for his senior year.

Where Simpson will have to show his coaching chops is on the interior. The Canes will have to replace both its starting interior linemen and will likely be relying on some young players to do it. Big sophomore Jon Ford (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) should – must – see playing time this season and four-star incoming freshman Nesta Silvera (6-foot-1, 305 pounds) will probably have to contribute right away for the Hurricanes as well.

It would be a big plus if senior Gerald Willis, who missed the entire 2017 season after taking “a leave of absence” to deal with personal issues, can show he’s ready to play football again and get back to the form that made him a five-star recruit back in 2015.

“Just saying that sentence – ‘working in the defensive line room at the University of Miami’ – is such a mouthful because of the greatness that has come from that room,” Simpson said. “I know the rich tradition of success, the types of players and defensive linemen that have come through the room and had an impact at this level and on the NFL level. We have some super talented kids in our room, incredible kids coming to join us this fall and then even more in the future. We have something special going on, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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