A new name has surfaced with the Tigers' defensive line coaching vacancy, CUTigers.com learned.
According to several sources, Troy defensive ends coach Mike Pelton has now emerged as one of the leading candidates for the position.
"All I can say is I have an interview with (Bowden and Koenning) pretty soon," said Pelton when reached by CUTigers.com. "I'd love the opportunity to work with Coach Vic again. He's a great defensive coach and someone I respect very much. I'd love to come to Clemson."
Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning confirmed with CUTigers.com Wednesday that Pelton would indeed go through the interview process. Koenning also said that Memphis linebackers coach Chris Rumph will also interview for the position and that another candidate "cancelled."
"At this point, there are no leading candidates, because no one has interviewed yet," added Koenning.
Pelton is an attractive fit at Clemson for several reasons. Obviously, he has considerable experience as a defensive line coach, where he has coached defensive ends the last five years at Troy. He has also worked for current Tigers' defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, who came from Troy just last year.
Pelton, 35, is also a good recruiter who was responsible for recruiting North Central Alabama, West Central Florida and Texas Junior Colleges during his time at Troy.
In addition, under his tutelage, Pelton has developed such talents as Demarcus Ware, drafted in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, and Osi Umenyiora, drafted in the 2004 second round by the New York Giants.
The former second-team All-American out of Auburn (1991-94), Pelton played in the NFL for two seasons with the Chiefs ('95) and Colts ('96). He originally joined the Troy staff as a graduate assistant in 1999 before moving to Valdosta State as a defensive line coach in 2000. He then came back to Troy the following year where he served as a defensive ends coach until now.
Pelton has also worked two summers as part of the NFL's Minority Internship program, working with the Falcons in 2002 and the Redskins in 2004.
The Tigers are looking to fill their defensive line coaching position after Marion Hobby left Clemson for the New Orleans Saints last week.
Spring practice for Clemson begins March 4, however it is unclear whether or not a replacement for Hobby will be announced by that time.
Official Mike Pelton Bio
Mike Pelton just ended his fifth season with the Trojans overall and his fourth working in his current capacity with the defensive ends. During that short time, Pelton has helped produce two of the most dominant rush ends in school history in Demarcus Ware, drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, and Osi Umenyiora, drafted in the 2004 second round by the New York Giants. Both players received various all-conference and all-independent honors under his tutelage.
During Pelton's tenure, the Trojan defense has been consistently among the national leaders in several defensive categories. It ranked eighth nationally in rushing defense and 16th in total defense during the 2004 season after coming in 26th and 39th, respectively, in those categories the year before. In 2002, the Trojans' defense finished that season ranked fourth nationally in total defense, allowing just 276.83 yards per game to opponents. The Trojans were ranked 11th in pass defense, allowing 171.58 yards per game, and 13th in rushing defense (105.25 ypg). In scoring defense, the Trojans ranked 30th, allowing only 21 points per contest.
As a unit, the Troy defense ranked fourth nationally in total defense in 2002. The Trojans allowed just 276.83 yards per game to opponents in 12 games, ranking behind only Texas Christian (240.25), Kansas State (249) and Alabama (257.31), respectively. Troy was ranked 11th in pass defense, allowing 171.58 yards per game, and 13th in rushing defense (105.25 ypg). In scoring defense, the Trojans ranked 30th, allowing only 21 points per contest.
In 2001, Pelton coached two of the team's top seven tacklers in juniors Jose Gamboa and Davern Williams, who finished with 65 and 61 stops, respectively, to lead all linemen. Williams was taken in the seventh round of the NFL Draft in April 2003 by the Miami Dolphins.
Pelton worked at Troy as a graduate assistant in 1999 and then returned to the Trojans in 2001 after spending 2000 as the defensive line coach at Division II powerhouse Valdosta State.
A four-year letter winner at Auburn from 1991-94, Pelton earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference and second-team All-America honors in 1994. During his career, the Tigers won a school-record 20 consecutive games during his final two seasons and posted an 11-0 record in 1993. While at Auburn, Pelton was the recipient of the Zeke Smith Award as the team's Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.
He once recorded 23 tackles in a game against Vanderbilt, on Oct. 12, 1991, which is tied for third most in school history.
At Valdosta State in 2000, Pelton helped coach a defensive unit that finished second in the conference in pass defense. The Blazers posted a 10-2 record and finished in a three-way tie for the conference championship with Delta State and West Georgia. They lost to eventual national champion Delta State in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
Pelton has also worked two summers as part of the NFL's Minority Internship program, working with the Atlanta Falcons in 2002 and the Washington Redskins in 2004.
A native of Goshen, Ala., Pelton was drafted in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1995 NFL Draft. He moved to the Indianapolis Colts a year later as a free agent.
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