Kentucky made the hirings of Dean Hood and Derrick LeBlanc official on Wednesday, filling the two vacant positions on Mark Stoops' coaching staff.
Hood, a familiar name around the Commonwealth, will be the Wildcats' new outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. He spent 13 years at Eastern Kentucky, including eight years as head coach from 2008-15. Prior to that, he was defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Wake Forest for seven years.
He fills the position created when D.J. Eliot departed for Colorado and Matt House moved into the defensive coordinator's role.
“I could not be more excited to have Coach Hood join our staff,” Stoops said in a statement released by UK. “He brings extensive experience and knowledge as a head coach, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Having watched him at Eastern Kentucky, I developed great respect for him and I know he is held in high regard by the high school coaches in the state. He is a welcome addition to our program.”
Hood also brings a connection to perhaps UK's main out-of-state recruiting zone.
“I am from northeast Ohio and I take a lot of pride from being from there,” he said. “Being from Ohio I have followed the Stoops family for a long time and they are known for being tough, hard-working and family oriented. All of those things are important to me as well. When I was coaching at Wake Forest and we had to play against Florida State, I noticed how well the defense played once Coach Stoops got there. They were very tough to play against.
"Also, being 17 miles away at EKU, I was always impressed with him and the discipline of his program. I was impressed with how he presented himself in the media and public with an honest and let’s-go-to-work attitude and how they have put together a really good strategic recruiting plan. I’m excited and honored to be a part of his staff.”
LeBlanc (pronounced LUH-blon) will serve as new UK's new defensive line coach following the departure of Jimmy Brumbaugh to Maryland.
He previously served in the same role at North Texas. The Mean Green were one of the nation's most-improved defenses in 2016, trimming almost nine points per game off their average the previous season.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here at Kentucky with Coach Stoops and his staff,” LeBlanc said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to teach the young guys at UK and coach in the Southeastern Conference. Coach Stoops is a great defensive mind and he’s a great teacher of the game. On the outside looking in, there’s always been the potential to win at Kentucky and Coach Stoops has found a way to get it going in that direction and I’m looking forward to working with him and these players.”
LeBlanc previously served as defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Pearl River Community College in Mississippi. He has also coached at Southern Miss, Wyoming and LSU.
“I’ve known Derrick and watched his progress as a coach,” Stoops said. “I was super-impressed with his interview, with the organization of his teaching and how good he is as an instructor. Fundamentals are important at every position but especially in the defensive line and I believe Derrick will be a great teacher of proper technique and fundamentals.”