Arizona Football

Addition of Yates, Williams will make Arizona defense more attractive to West coast targets



Marcel Yates appears to be a no-nonsense, all-about-winning defensive coach who should help the Wildcats improve in that area (YouTube)

Marcel Yates appears to be a no-nonsense, all-about-winning defensive coach who should help the Wildcats improve in that area (YouTube)

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How could Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez pull off the upset and apparently have the better defensive coordinator hire, at least when it comes to recruiting on the West coast, than Pac-12 giant Oregon?

Reports indicate Rodriguez will soon announce Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates as his new defensive coordinator, potentially by tomorrow. Oregon coach Mark Helfrich announced Saturday that former San Diego State and Michigan head coach Brady Hoke is the Ducks’ new defensive coordinator.

Yates, 38, coached the Broncos’ defense this season to a No. 12 ranking in total defense, No. 19 in tackles for lost yardage, No. 11 in red-zone defense and No. 31 in sacks. Hoke is 57 and a year removed from being Michigan’s head coach. The Wolverines had a stout defense under Hoke, ranking 11th nationally in total defense in his last season of 2014, but it is questionable whether he has the southern California contacts that Yates has built with his Los Angeles background.

Rodriguez’s effort to enhance Arizona’s recruiting is the reason why he injected fresh, young blood with revered backgrounds as recruiters and coaching minds into the Arizona program after parting ways with longtime associates Jeff Casteel, 54, as the defensive coordinator and Bill Kirelawich, 68, as the defensive line coach.

Former San Jose State defensive secondary coach and recruiting coordinator Donté Williams, 33, was introduced Sunday by Rodriguez as a defensive assistant. Rodriguez recently promoted another 33-year-old coach, Jahmile Addae, as his cornerbacks coach.

With the reported hiring of Yates, addition of Williams and promotion of Addae, it is obvious that Rodriguez has made the necessary moves to enhance his recruiting. According to 247Sports, Williams ranked as the Mountain West’s second-best recruiter in 2014 and 2015 and was leading that category this season.

It is encouraging also that Rodriguez is giving minority coaches important roles based on their track record.

Yates will become Arizona’s first African-American defensive coordinator. He will be the 12th defensive coordinator for Arizona in the Wildcats’ Pac-10/12 existence. One of Rodriguez’s co-offensive coordinators, Calvin Magee, is also African-American.

Dino Babers, offensive coordinator under Dick Tomey from 1997-2000, is the only other African-American to be a coordinator at the school. Babers is now the head coach at Syracuse after a successful stint at Bowling Green.

Yates’ youth, personality and forthright manner will connect the most with recruits and their parents. He knows all about what a strong work ethic means to achieving goals and overcoming hardships.

The former Boise State defensive back from 1997-99 became the Montana State assistant secondary coach two years after his career was completed with the Broncos. After two seasons there, he became Boise State’s cornerbacks coach from 2003-05 and the Broncos’ defensive backs coach from 2006-11. Texas A&M hired him as its co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach from 2012-13. He returned to Boise State in 2014 to become the defensive coordinator.

Along the way, Yates has persevered through a lifelong stutter. While at Montana, he worked as a cab driver to make ends meet.

“Football to me is a joy; I don’t find it hard,” Yates told the Idaho Statesman. “Probably the biggest challenge for me is my stutter in public speaking. It’s something I’ve always dealt with. Growing up, I was always good in math because you don’t have to talk. Over the years, it’s gotten better.


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“What we look for in our defensive players are guys that want to work hard, that are smart on and off the football field, obviously they have to be athletic, good feet, good hips, physical … guys who want to work, who want to win. Also they need to be guys that love the game. We look for safeties with two aspects: mental and physical. First with the mental, we want guys who want to play at the next level who are smart. Safeties here are pretty much the quarterbacks of our defense. As far as the physical, we are looking for guys that are between the height of 5’10” and 6’3″, guys who want to tackle, obviously for a safety you can never be too physical.”

Marcel Yates on his defensive philosophy while at Boise State during a YouTube video interview



Offensive Coordinator
Mike Gottfried (1977)
Tony Yelovich (1978-79)

Defensive Coordinator
Bob Valesente (1977-79)


Offensive Coordinator
Steve Axman (1980-84)
Chuck Stobart (1986)

Defensive Coordinator
Moe Ankney (1980-85)
Chris Allen (1986)


Offensive Coordinators
Ben Griffith (1987-88)
Rip Scherer (1989-90)
Pat Hill (1990-91)
Duane Akina (1992-95)
Homer Smith (1996)
Dino Babers (1997-2000)

Defensive Coordinators
Larry MacDuff (1987-96)
Rich Ellerson (1997-2000)


Offensive Coordinators
John Mackovic (2001-03)
Mike Deal (2003)

Defensive Coordinators
Larry MacDuff (2001-02)
Mike Hankwitz (2003)


Offensive Coordinators
Mike Canales (2004-06)
Sonny Dykes (2007-09)
Bill Bedenbaugh (2009-10)
Seth Littrell (2009-11)

Defensive Coordinators
Mark Stoops (2004-09)
Greg Brown (2010)
Tim Kish (2010-11)


Offensive Coordinators
Rod Smith/Calvin Magee (2012-)

Defensive Coordinators
Jeff Casteel (2012-15)
*Marcel Yates (2016-)
* Reports indicate his hire. Not official yet.


Marcel Yates' addition to Rich Rodriguez's staff as defensive coordinator should boost Arizona's presence in Yates' hometown of Los Angeles (YouTube)

Marcel Yates’ addition to Rich Rodriguez’s staff as defensive coordinator should boost Arizona’s presence in Yates’ hometown of Los Angeles (YouTube)

“The more relaxed I am, the more I don’t think about it, the better off it is. When I worry about it and stress about it it gets to be pretty bad. When it’s one-on-one, in a home setting (recruiting), that comes natural to me. It’s funny, when I was growing up I’d go to speech therapists and I wouldn’t stutter because it was one-on-one. There was nothing uncomfortable with that. For me, it’s more group settings or public settings. Usually once I get going and relax a little bit it’s OK. It’s my biggest challenge.”

About his experience as a cab driver in Bozeman, Yates told the Statesman that he feared for his life when he picked up a 6’6” cowboy at a bar. The man said almost nothing except his destination, which was well outside the city in the mountains. “I’m thinking, ‘This dude is going to hit me upside the head, kill me and chop me up,’ ” Yates said. “I tell him the fare and he gives me a $40 tip and shakes my hand and says, ‘Thank you.’ It just goes to show, stereotypes. He gives me my biggest tip ever.”

Some Arizona fans have already asked me if Rodriguez is completely abandoning Casteel’s 3-3-5 defense for the 4-2-5 alignment Yates has used at Boise State. Nobody outside of Rodriguez’s staff knows for sure. Rodriguez’s comments recently that he has an idea of what he wants his defense to be indicates he and Yates will work together to do what’s best for Arizona’s personnel and recruiting targets. He may not entirely adopt the 4-2-5 alignment. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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