Jon Heacock just closed the circle on his coaching career.
Hired in 1983 as a graduate assistant at the University of Toledo, the veteran defensive coach is returning to the place that launched his rise in the profession. Heacock, 53, is Toledo’s new defensive coordinator, a title the Ohio native held at three other stops in a career that next season turns 31. He will also coach safeties, just as he did last season at Purdue.
Heacock, like Rockets head coach Matt Campbell, hails from northeast Ohio, spending his formative years in Beloit before attending Muskingum College in the central-east section of the state. He is known best, perhaps, as Jim Tressel’s successor at Youngstown State. Heacock compiled a 60-44 record in nine seasons and in 2006 led the Penguins to the Division I-AA semifinals. As an assistant to Tressel, Heacock collected three national championships.
Heacock’s brother, Jim, was Tressel’s defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
“You’re always as a football coach admiring work of other people, and I certainly admired his work from afar,” Campbell said.
Next season will be Heacock’s 12th as a coordinator. He was at the controls of defenses at Kent State (2011-12), Indiana (1997-99) and Youngstown State (1992-96, 2000). His work at Kent, where the Golden Flashes won 11 games in 2012 to break a 40-year bowl spell, caught Campbell’s attention. Heacock’s unit was third in the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense and sixth in yards. A year earlier the Flashes were fourth in scoring and second in yards. In both years they ranked in the top four on third down and in the red zone — two areas of emphasis for Campbell.
Heacock followed his college teammate Darrell Hazell from Kent to Purdue last offseason. The Boilermakers were winless in the Big Ten, finishing 1-11 overall.
It is believed Purdue discouraged Hazell from bringing his coordinators for the same positions. Thus, Heacock coached defensive backs. He made $200,000, almost $90,000 more than the salary of the coach he’s replacing, Tom Matukewicz.
Heacock’s Purdue biography lists his having recruiting ties in the Midwest and Florida.
“He has great wisdom for the game and brings another perspective to the coaching staff,” Campbell said.
Heacock’s previous stint at Toledo in 1983 involved his working with the defensive line. The Rockets went 9-3 in Dan Simrell’s second season as coach.
Campbell said special teams coordinator Stan Watson will take over as linebackers coach, a position Matukewicz manned before leaving to be Southeast Missouri’s head coach. The transition should be seamless, as Watson coached outside linebackers the last two years.
Campbell could be searching for a new special teams coordinator to lighten Watson’s load.
3 UM players leave
Three players will not return to the Michigan football program for the 2014 season.
A UM spokesperson confirmed Saturday that Thomas Rawls, Josh Furman and Richard Ash have been granted releases from the program.
Rawls, a junior running back from Flint, had 12 yards and a touchdown in nine games, and told MLive.com that he plans to transfer to Central Michigan for his senior season. Rawls finished with 333 yards and five touchdowns in three seasons.
Furman, a safety and a redshirt junior from Annapolis, Md., had eleven tackles in eight games in 2013 and had 29 tackles in three seasons.
Ash, a defensive tackle and a redshirt junior from Pahokee, Fla., had three tackles in eight games in 2013.
South wins Sr. Bowl
MOBILE, Ala. — Derek Carr and David Fales both threw touchdown passes and Auburn's Dee Ford racked up two sacks in the South's 20-10 victory over the North in the Senior Bowl on Saturday.
The University of Toledo’s David Fluellen rushed for 44 yards on eight carries for the North.
Defenses dominated the showcase event. Ford polished off his week by twice sacking Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas in the first half and Chris Davis had an interception.
Ford was named the game's MVP. Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood caught a 24-yard TD pass from Fales of San Jose State and received the South's most outstanding player honors.
Wisconsin's James White scored on a one-yard run with 6:04 left in the game for the North's only touchdown. He was selected the North's MOP after rushing for 62 yards on 11 carries.