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Recruiting Area: Fort Worth, Arlington
After spending four seasons at Coastal Carolina serving as defensive coordinator, working with defensive backs, Clayton Carlin joins the Sam Houston State football program to serve as defensive backs coach entering the 2016 season.
While with the Chanticleers, Carlin led a defense that improved from six interceptions in 2011 to 14 in 2012. The Philadelphia native tutored the Big South Defensive Player of the Year during two consecutive seasons as well as the league’s top two pass-breakup players in 2013.
“I’ve known Clayton for probably about 30 years,” head coach K.C. Keeler said. “He has worked my camps and he’s a terrific football coach and a better person. The fact that Justin Roberts and he have both been coordinators is a nice complement to the staff. We’re excited to have him.”
A season ago, Coastal ranked 21st nationally in scoring defense, giving up 20.1 points per game. The program set a school record with two shutouts in one season – 55-0 over Alabama A&M and 46-0 over Garner Webb. During his tenure, the squad made four consecutive playoff appearances, winning a share of three Big South championships and held a No. 1 national ranking in the FCS Coaches Poll.
“What a privilege it is to be here,” Carlin said. “You look at K.C. Keeler and his body of work and what he’s accomplished on the field at three different places and two different levels, that’s as good as anyone in the country. He’s a great family man and that was very appealing to my family.”
During the 2013 season, Coastal Carolina set a school record with 62 pass breakups and 13 interceptions. The unit ranked 45th in the FCS in red zone defense, helped by three blocked field goals, four turnovers on downs and four interceptions.
“Hopefully I can bring some sort of value to the organization based on my experience,” Carlin said. “I think having been a coordinator the last 12 years will hopefully help the organization. My job is to be the best I can be every day and assist Brad (Sherrod) as well as coach Keeler.”
With a bulk of the Chanticleers returning for Carlin’s third season, the Coastal defense ranked 13th in scoring defense – up for 81st the previous year – and 26th in pass efficiency defense. The team also moved up 55 spots in third down conversion defense including holding South Carolina State, Florida A&M and Elon to three points or less in three consecutive games.
“He’s worked out of the 4-2-5 before so it will be a nice compliment to what we already do, talking through adjustments and different ways of handling situations,” Keeler said. “Coastal Carolina played a great defense under him. He’s a nice resource to have for Brad (Sherrod) in terms of game plan ideas.”
Prior to Coastal, Carlin spend two seasons at Bucknell as defensive coordinator. In 2010, he coached the linebackers and in 2011 was promoted to assistant head coach, shifting his focus to the secondary.
In his second year at Bucknell, the Bison defense ranked third in the NCAA in rush defense, allowing just 78.27 rushing yards per game, while leading the Patriot League and ranking 12th in total defense. The unit also ranked 15th in scoring defense.
During his inaugural year with Bucknell, the program led the nation in turnover margin, forcing 22 interceptions and recording 17 fumbles. Carlin spent the previous six years at Cornell where he served two stints at defensive coordinator, spanning four seasons.
In his first year, the Big Red finished seventh nationally in rush defense and 13th nationally in scoring defense (18.1 ppg). He also spent time as the program’s offensive coordinator during the stint in which Cornell ranked 10th nationally in rushing (2005) and averaged better than 27 points per game, the best in 50 years at the program.
Carlin got his start at the Division I level as a graduate assistant at Nebraska under legendary coach Tom Osborne from 1994-96. During that time, the Cornhuskers went 36-2 and won two national titles. It also led to opportunities with New Mexico State, where he spent two stints, mixed in with one year at Villanova and two at Buffalo.
Carlin and his wife, Kathleen, have six children, including daughters Carsen (16) and Julia (14); and sons, Clayton (12), Brady (11), Cole (8) and Conner (6). Carlin received his bachelor’s degree from Juniata College in 1987 and received his master’s in educational administration from Nebraska.
“I’m looking forward to getting around the players,” Carlin said. “That’s what it’s about. It’s about the relationships with the young men. I haven’t had a chance to meet many of them. It has been a whirlwind. I’m looking forward to being on the field.”