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USF head coach Jim Leavitt announced the hiring of David Blackwell to the position of co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
"We are going to get him going immediately," said Leavitt. "He is a great addition to our staff. He has a proven track record on the field and in recruiting. I have tremendous confidence in the assets he will bring to this program."
Blackwell just completed his sixth season coaching linebackers at Clemson.
He was a part of the Tigers' defensive resurgence in recent years. Clemson was bowl eligible in all six of Blackwell's seasons on staff and most recently, he helped lead the Tigers to the Gator Bowl. Clemson finished in the top 25 of both polls in three of those seasons.
During that time, the program has earned 10 wins over top-25 teams, and the Clemson defense has had a lot to do with that success.
In 2008, the Clemson Tigers finished No. 10 in pass efficiency defense, No. 12 in pass defense, No. 13 in scoring defense and No. 18 in total defense.
Clemson finished in the top 25 in the four major defensive categories each of the last four years, the first time in history Clemson has been in all four stat categories four straight years. Clemson also had a top-20 finish in scoring defense in 2003, meaning the Tigers have been in the top 25 in the most important defensive category four of the five years Blackwell has been on the staff.
In 2007, Blackwell's linebackers contributed to a top-10 national finish in total defense and scoring defense. Nick Watkins, one of Blackwell's inside linebackers, led the team in tackles in 2007 and was in the top 10 in the ACC. He completed his career in the top 10 in school history in tackles (386).
In 2006, Clemson was 13th in the nation in total defense, 16th in scoring defense, 17th in pass efficiency defense, 18th in rushing defense and 24th in pass defense. It was quite an accomplishment for the defense considering it lost preseason All-American linebacker Anthony Waters in the first game of the year due to a torn ACL.
The play of his linebackers had a lot to do with Clemson's strong finish in 2005. Clemson was in the top 25 in seven categories, including scoring defense (#11), tackles for loss (#13), turnover margin (#16), pass efficiency defense (#18), total defense (#20), rushing defense (#25) and sacks (#25).
Leroy Hill's development under Blackwell was consistent over his last two years (2003,04), leading to his selection in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft by the Seahawks. Hill started in the Super Bowl for Seattle as a rookie when he had 7.5 sacks, third-most in franchise history for a rookie and third among NFL rookies in 2005. Hill was named ACC Defensive Player-of-the-Year, AP Third-Team All-American and was a two-time First-Team All-ACC selection under Blackwell's tutelage in 2004.
Blackwell's group was a big reason Clemson finished with a top-25 final ranking and nine wins in 2003. The defense allowed No. 3 Florida State and No. 6 Tennessee just 49 combined rushing yards in Tiger victories at the end of the season and held both teams to 14 points or less.
Blackwell directed Clemson's recruiting efforts during his first three years. Both his 2005 and 2006 recruiting classes were ranked in the top 20 by nearly every service. The 2006 recruiting class had the most Parade and USA Today All-Americans for the Tiger program in 16 years.
The native of Greenville, S.C., has significant experience at the Division I level as both a defensive coach and recruiter. He was the linebackers coach at Pittsburgh from 2000-02. He was a big reason the Panthers went to three straight bowl games during that period. Combined with his career at Clemson, he has been with a bowl-eligible program for each of the last eight years.
The Panthers finished with a 9-4 record and No. 18 ranking in the coaches poll at the conclusion of the 2002 season. Their season included a 38-13 win over Oregon State in the Insight.com Bowl. Thus, Blackwell was an assistant coach on top-25 teams in consecutive years (2002, 2003) with two different programs, and he has been with a top-25 program four of the last six years.
During the 2002 season, Pittsburgh's point-prevention unit was 14th in the nation in scoring defense, 12th in total defense, 15th in pass efficiency defense and 24th in rushing defense. The Panthers were one of a few programs in the country to finish in the top 25 in all four major statistical categories.
Prior to his stop at Pittsburgh, Blackwell was an assistant coach at Illinois State from 1996-99. He had a big part in one of the top turnarounds in Division I-AA during that period. In 1999, Illinois State compiled a school-best 11-3 record and advanced to the semifinals of the Division I-AA playoffs before losing to eventual National Champion Georgia Southern.
Blackwell joined the Redbirds' staff as a defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. He served as recruiting coordinator for four seasons. One of his primary recruiting areas was the state of Florida.
In his first season at Illinois State, Blackwell's defensive line accounted for 38 of the team's 47 sacks, the second-highest total in school history. He coached three All-Americans and 11 all-conference performers at Illinois State.
Blackwell began his coaching career at his alma mater (East Carolina) as rush linebackers coach between the 1993 and 1995 seasons. The Pirates earned trips to the Liberty Bowl in two of those seasons.
On the gridiron, Blackwell played at East Carolina in 1990 as a freshman offensive lineman. His top game came against national power Florida State when he graded 85 percent. In 1991, a season in which East Carolina posted an 11-1 overall record and No. 9 ranking in the final Associated Press poll, Blackwell's playing career was cut short by a neck injury. He remained close to the program and served as a student assistant on the 1992 coaching staff.
Blackwell, a Berea High School alum, went on to graduate with a bachelor's degree in exercise science from East Carolina in 1997.
He is married to the former Melissa Androutsos, who served as the sports information director for men's basketball at Pittsburgh during the couple's time with the Panthers' athletics department. The couple has a son, D.J.
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