LEXINGTON, Ky. — Cincinnati co-defensive coordinator Steve Clinkscale has been tabbed Kentucky’s defensive backs coach, it was announced by Coach Mark Stoops on Tuesday.
“I am very impressed with Coach Clinkscale’s knowledge and the way he handles himself with players,” said Stoops, who has an extensive history as a defensive backs coach. “He is well-seasoned in terms of experience. Coaches I greatly respect – Coach (Eddie) Gran and Coach (Darin) Hinshaw – who worked with him in Cincinnati speak very highly of him.”
Clinkscale joins the Kentucky coaching staff after serving three seasons with Cincinnati as secondary coach, including the 2015 campaign as co-defensive coordinator.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Clinkscale previously spent a year as the cornerbacks coach at Illinois (2012), after a three-year run with Toledo. He also served as an assistant with Western Carolina in 2008, after opening his coaching career at his alma mater Ashland University (2001-07) in Ohio.
“I’ve been wanting to work with Coach Stoops since he’s been at Kentucky,” Clinkscale said. “This is a great opportunity for me and my family and I’m getting to work with someone who is like-minded. We speak the same language when it comes to defense. I was walking through the training facility with my wife and I told her ‘this feels like a dream come true.’ I’m very happy and I can’t wait to get on the practice field.”
In his three seasons at Cincinnati, Clinkscale helped the Bearcats advance to three straight bowl games – Belk Bowl (2013), Military Bowl (2014) and Hawai’i Bowl (2015). As the main defensive play-caller in 2015, his defense ranked third in the American Athletic Conference, allowing only 217 passing yards per game. Junior UC linebacker Eric Wilson blossomed under Clinkscale’s guidance as he charted a 106-tackle season, while safety Zach Edwards starred with 94 tackles and three interceptions.
Edwards excelled under Clinkscale’s tutelage in 2014, amassing 121 tackles, two interceptions and six pass break-ups. During UC’s nine-win season in 2013, Edwards shined as a freshman with 73 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
Before joining the UC staff, Clinkscale spent a season on the staff at Illinois as the cornerbacks coach, helping the Fighting Illini rank in the Top-20 nationally in pass defense, surrendering under 200 yards passing per game.
He joined the Illini staff after spending three seasons at Toledo, including the final two as the cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator. Under his leadership, Toledo’s cornerbacks played a key role in the Rockets’ defensive resurgence, while special teams were a strong suit as well. The kickoff return team ranked 11th in the nation in 2010 and the punt return unit ranked 17th in 2011.
In 2011, Clinkscale helped the Rockets become a national leader in takeaways, as Toledo ranked 16th in turnovers gained. UT also ranked third in the nation in turnover margin and 29th in third-down defense in 2011. Clinkscale guided the Rockets to a No. 17 finish in punt return average in 2011, which helped Toledo to a 9-4 campaign and a victory in the Military Bowl.
Clinkscale also helped develop Toledo’s Eric Page into one of the most electrifying return men in college football, as Page was named a third-team All-American by Phil Steele and a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player. Page also was named first-team All-Mid-American Conference as a receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner.
Toledo went from allowing 37.7 points per game in 2009 to 28.5 in 2010. The Rocket defense also increased its turnovers from 21 to 34, the fifth-highest takeaway total in the nation in 2010, and tied for eighth-most interceptions in the country with 20. Toledo also finished 11th in the nation in kickoff return average, helping propel Toledo to an 8-5 season and its first bowl appearance in five years.
With the Rockets in 2010, Clinkscale helped guide junior Desmond Marrow as he returned to the lineup after a nearly two-year absence. Marrow responded with an outstanding season, with 72 tackles, three interceptions and six pass breakups. On special teams, Clinkscale helped coach Page, who averaged 31.1 yards per return, earn numerous first-team All-America honors. He was the only player in the FBS to return three kickoffs for touchdowns.
Clinkscale went to Toledo with eight years of college coaching experience: one year at Western Carolina (2008) and seven seasons at Ashland University (2001-07). In his only season at Western Carolina, he worked with the Catamount defensive backs in addition to serving as Western’s academic liaison.
During his seven seasons at Ashland, Clinkscale served mostly as a secondary coach, spending his final season as the linebackers coach. He also served as the academic liaison at AU, where the football team routinely posted combined GPAs of 3.0 or better.
Clinkscale mentored two All-Americans (Devin Conwell and Toure Carter) and two Cactus Bowl (NCAA Division II all-star game) participants at Ashland. Conwell was named the 2005 GLIAC Defensive Back of the Year.
Clinkscale was a four-year starter and a team captain at Ashland. He played in the 2000 Snow Bowl, the Division II all-star game that was the predecessor to the Catcus Bowl. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sports science, with a concentration in therapeutic recreation in 2000.
Clinkscale and his wife, Jasena, have four sons: Isaiah, Elijah, and twins, Zion and Zivon.
STEVE CLINKSCALE FILE
Sons: Isaiah, Elijah, and twins, Zion and Zivon
2000, B.S. Ashland (DB) – 2000
Kentucky – defensive backs – 2016
Cincinnati – co-defensive coordinator, defensive backs – 2015
Cincinnati – defensive backs – 2013-14
Illinois –cornerbacks coach – 2012
Toledo – special team coordinator, cornerbacks – 2009-11
Western Carolina – defensive backs – 2008
Ashland University – defensive backs, linebackers – 2001-07
CLINKSCALE’S BOWL HISTORY
2010: Toledo – Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
2011: Toledo – Military Bowl
2013: Cincinnati – Belk Bowl
2014: Cincinnati – Military
2015: Cincinnati – Hawai’i