It was a tough blow to the Ole Miss football staff when linebackers coach Jon Sumrall left for an open position on the Kentucky staff last month. The former Troy assistant was part of Neal Brown’s early teams that started his mini-dynasty in South Alabama and he was also a co-defensive coordinator in New Orleans at Tulane before making his mark in Oxford.
The biggest loss, though, will be Sumrall’s presence on the recruiting trail. He signed four-star Lakia Henry and was heavily-involved when the Rebs flipped three-star defensive tackle LeDarrius Cox from Tennessee and signed Brandon Mack after flipping him from Pittsburgh.
Alas, Matt Luke has found his replacement and SPOILER he is another former coordinator. North Texas co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Jeff Koonz has agreed to leave his post in the Lone Star State to join the Ole Miss staff as inside linebackers coach next to newly-hired Tyrone Nix, per Chuck Rounsaville of the Ole Miss Spirit.
The newest member of the staff has enjoyed stints at Auburn, Texas, Iowa State, Louisiana Tech, and Cincinnati before he made his way to Denton, Tex. to join Seth Littrell’s staff. He was promoted to co-defensive coordinator after coaching linebackers last year. In 2018, he helped lead E.J. Ejiya to a breakout senior season. He finished 4th in the FBS with 23.0 tackles for loss and was 5th in C-USA with 123 total tackles.
During those previous stops, the Wallkill, N.Y. native was on staff with the likes of Tommy Tuberville, Mack Brown, and Gene Chizik.
Koonz is an Auburn graduate who became a GA under Tuberville where he coached teams that went to the 2002 Capital One Bowl, a 2003 Music City Bowl, the 2004 SEC Championship Game, and the Sugar Bowl after a perfect 13-0 campaign.
After he left The Plains, he was a GA/linebackers coach at Texas 2006 on Chizik’s defense in 2006. After the Longhorns defensive coordinator took the Iowa State head gig, Koonz followed him, coaching the secondary and special teams for two seasons in Ames. And then he returned to Texas once again where he was a DQC guy for Will Muschamp on the 2009 team that won the Big 12 and played against Alabama in the BCS title game.
After just one year in Austin, he left to join Skip Holtz’s staff at Louisiana Tech. In 2011, Koonz’s two starting linebackers, Adrien Cole and Jay Dudley, accounted for 230 total tackles (65 percent of Tech’s tackles for the season). Cole led the Bulldogs with 128 tackles and 13 tackles for a loss, leading to a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference and the WAC Defensive Player of the Year selection.
And finally before he made it to North Texas, he was the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Cincinnati, where he rejoined forces with Tommy Tuberville. There his defense in 2016 finished 78th in total defense, 58th in pass defense, and 90th in rush defense. Furthermore, per Bill C’s S&P+ rankings, the Bearcats defense looked like this:
- 53rd S&P+ overall
- 16th isoPPP+
- 44th SD+
- 49th DB havoc
- 50th rushing S&P+
Koonz is yet another former coordinator joining the staff and that will be yet another feather in the cap for Matt Luke’s staff, especially on the defensive side as they are trying to revamp the Landshark defense. His recruiting resume isn’t exactly what you like, but his coaching resume has plenty to like. He has extensive experience on Power 5 staffs that have been to big-time bowl games, won conference titles, and he’s been on the sidelines at a national championship game.
Another solid get for the Rebels.