UL Defensive Coordinator James Willis Accepts Job With Saints
Louisiana Ragin' Cajun defensive coordinator James Willis is leaving the football staff after two seasons at the DC position.
Willis has accepted a job with the New Orleans Saints as a defensive assistant/linebackers coach.
Ragin' Cajun head coach Mark Hudspeth made the announcement today, releasing the following statement in a University press release.
"I'm excited for James and his opportunity. Obviously, as a player in the National Football League, he has to be excited to have the opportunity to go back and coach at the highest level. We appreciate the work that James did here at UL and wish him and his family the best in the future.
"You know you have good people on your staff when other universities hire your coaches to be head coaches and the NFL comes calling for your coaches as well."
In two seasons at UL, Willis led a defense that ranked in the upper half of the Sun Belt Conference, finishing as high as third overall in 2013.
Prior to coaching at Louisiana, Willlis coached at Rhode Island (2004), Temple (2005), Auburn (2006-2008), Alabama (2009), and Texas Tech (2010). He played linebacker in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Seattle Seahawks, and spent one season in the now defunct XFL, with the Birmingham Thunderbolts (where he was league defensive MVP).
With the Saints, Willis will share the same position as coach Brian Young, who is also listed as a defensive assistant/linebackers coach.
According to multiple reports, Willis briefly accepted a job in February of 2014 to become linebackers coach at Florida State, but hand a change of heart and decided to remain with Louisiana.
UL has not announced Willis' successor, though there are several options.
Newly hired defensive backs coach Melvin Smith currently holds the title of co-defensive coordinator. Mike Lucas, who was hired last month as well as an outside linebackers coach served as defensive coordinator at Northwestern State last year.
Of course, the Cajuns could hire someone new, rather than promote someone currently on the staff.
The defensive coaching staff at the start of the 2015 season will be entirely different from the staff that started the 2014 season.
Willis sent out the following tweet around 9:00 am this morning. Perhaps it was a farewell to his team.