OLLEGE STATION -- Veteran defensive coach Mike Elko has been named the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher announced.
Elko, one of a select group of defensive coordinators nationally that has overseen a top 50 defense the past six seasons, comes to Texas A&M after one season of directing Notre Dame's defense.
"I am excited to bring one of the top defensive minds in the nation onto our staff here at Texas A&M," Fisher said. "No matter where Mike has worked, he has consistently produced defenses that have been among the nation's best."
In his lone season in South Bend, the Irish's defense ranked in the top half nationally in all four major defensive categories as the Irish finished with a 10-3 record, which included a 21-17 win over LSU in the 2018 Citrus Bowl. Elko was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, which is given annually to the top assistant coach in college football.
Notre Dame's defense showed marked improvement in total defense under Elko with an average of 369.2 yards allowed per game. Additionally, the Irish improved at least 20 spots in the national rankings in rush defense (72nd to 51st), pass-efficiency defense (79th to 46th), scoring defense (62nd to 31), third-down defense (60 to 37th), turnovers gained (104th to 50th), sacks (117th to 82nd) and tackles for loss (102nd to 58th).
Elko arrived at Notre Dame following three seasons as the defensive coordinator/safeties coach at Wake Forest from 2014-16.
In 2016, the Demon Deacons' defense ranked in the top-20 of the FBS in fumbles recovered (third), turnovers forced (10th), sacks (12th), defensive TDs (17th), red zone defense (17th) and scoring defense (20th). Wake Forest was one of four schools in the FBS to rank in the top-20 in turnovers forced, sacks and scoring defense in 2016 (the other three schools -- Alabama, Clemson and Washington -- qualified for the College Football Playoff).
Elko was instrumental in the development of All-ACC and ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year runner-up Jessie Bates III, who finished with 93 tackles and five interceptions, including two that were returned for TDs in 2016.
Elko's 2015 Deacon defense ranked 38th in the nation, allowing just 363.8 yards per game. The Deacons also ranked among the national leaders in red-zone defense and pass defense. Wake Forest's shutout of Boston College was the first by the Deacons in nine years.
In 2014, Elko's defense proved to be one of the strengths of the Demon Deacon club. Wake Forest finished 12th nationally in passing yards allowed and was a top 40 team in total defense. Wake Forest had five defensive players earn All-ACC honors.
Elko spent five seasons as Bowling Green's defensive coordinator. The Falcon defense led the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense, total defense, rush defense and pass defense in each of his last two seasons. In 2013, four BGSU defensive players were named to the All-MAC first or second team.
Elko's Bowling Green defense excelled at forcing turnovers and stopping opponents on third down. Over his five seasons as defensive coordinator, the Falcons forced 106 turnovers or 1.7 per game. Bowling Green held opponents to just 35.9 percent third down conversions over those five seasons. In both 2012 and 2013, the Falcons ranked in the top 10 in the nation in both total defense and scoring defense.
The 2012 season was a banner year for the BGSU defense, finishing the season ranked sixth in the country in total defense (296.6) and 10th in scoring (16.7). The Falcons held the opposition to under 100 yards rushing in nine contests as BGSU had six different players earn All-MAC Honors, including three first-team members (Chris Jones, Gabe Martin, BooBoo Gates). Jones would go on to be named a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
The 2012 defense would finish as the fourth-best third down defense in the nation, allowing a first down just 28.1 percent of the time. Their fourth down defense was just as good, finishing fifth in the country at 26.3 percent. They would end the season ranked 11th in sacks (38), 12th in rushing defense (106.5), 13th in pass defense (190.1) and fifth in first downs allowed (15.1). All of this was accomplished with just two senior starters.
Prior to Bowling Green, Elko was the defensive coordinator at Hofstra from 2006-08. He also served on Clawson's staffs at Fordham in 2002-03 and at Richmond in 2004-05.
Elko coached the No. 1 passing defense in the Colonial Athletic Association with Hofstra, holding teams to just 136.8 yards per game through the air.
Hofstra's defense ranked first in the CAA and 11th in the FCS in rushing defense, second in the conference and 15th in the country in total defense, and fourth in the CAA and 37th in the FCS in scoring defense in 2007.
Elko's coaching experience includes time at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, where he served as defensive coordinator and at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, directing the secondary. He began his coaching career at Stony Brook in 1999 where he guided the linebackers in the fall and the defensive backs in the spring.
Elko is a 1999 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in history. As a safety, he helped the Quakers to the 1998 Ivy League title.
Mike and his wife Michelle, have three children, Michael, Andrew and Kaitlyn.
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