UNC Officially Introduces Baker

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- North Carolina has hired Brian Baker as its defensive line coach, head coach Butch Davis announced Monday. Baker comes to Chapel Hill after serving the last two seasons as the defensive line coach with the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

A native of Baltimore, Md., Baker played linebacker at Maryland in the early 1980s and coached 11 seasons in the Atlantic Coast Conference at Maryland and Georgia Tech. Baker returns to the college game after spending the last 15 seasons in the NFL with stints at San Diego, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis and Carolina.

"Brian is regarded as one of the top defensive line coaches in the NFL and his experience was appealing because of his background as a college coach in the ACC," said Davis. "He is an excellent communicator and his knowledge of our recruiting areas was critical.

"Hiring Brian was a cooperative effort among Everett Withers and our defensive coaches to bring in the best person for our program. Everett did an excellent job helping identify Brian as a top candidate and we worked together to bring him to Chapel Hill."

"Brian brings a wealth of experience from both his tenure in the NFL and previous years in college," said Withers. "He has coached some of the best athletes in the game and I believe he is a good fit for our team and for this coaching staff."

"I'm excited for the opportunity," said Baker. "I've always considered North Carolina one of the top athletic programs in the country, and I'm thrilled to be a part of a football program led by Coach Davis, who I believe is the best in the business. My personal goal is to be a college head coach in the future and I felt this was an excellent opportunity to get back into the collegiate game."

Baker's enthusiastic and animated style of coaching made an immediate impact during his two seasons with the Panthers in 2009 and 2010. In 2010, Baker coached defensive end Charles Johnson to his best season as a pro. Johnson produced 11.5 sacks, which ranked seventh overall in the NFL and was one more than he had accumulated in his previous three seasons combined. The defensive line accounted for 23.5 of the Panthers' 31 sacks.

Despite an unsettled situation at the left defensive tackle position for much of the 2009 season, Baker developed a line that was productive and efficient. The defensive line was responsible for 24.5 of the team's 31 sacks as the Panthers finished 17th in the league in sacks per pass play. That pass rush provided the impetus for a pass defense that ranked fourth in the NFL in both passing yards and percentage of passes intercepted. Former North Carolina All-America Julius Peppers had 10.5 sacks and forced five fumbles in one season under Baker.

"I had the pleasure of working with Coach Baker while I was with the Carolina Panthers," said Peppers, who now plays for the Chicago Bears. "I learned a lot from him and I believe I improved as a player as a result of being coached by him. I want to personally welcome Coach Baker to Carolina Football. I know the players will benefit from his influence and guidance both on and off the football field."

Baker came to the Panthers following three years with the St. Louis Rams. In 2008, he presided over a Rams defensive line that accounted for 20 of the team's 30 sacks and ranked 11th in the NFL in sacks per pass play. During the 2006 season, Baker coached defensive end Leonard Little, who tied for fifth in the league with 13 sacks, and defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who collected 5.5 sacks - the sixth most by a defensive tackle in the NFC.

Prior to joining St. Louis, Baker spent five years with the Minnesota Vikings, serving as defensive line coach in 2001 and 2004-05 and linebackers coach from 2002-03. He was instrumental in the development of defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who made the Pro Bowl and earned Associated Press All-Pro honors in 2004. That season, Williams led all NFL defensive tackles with 11.5 sacks and teamed with defensive end Lance Johnstone to give the Vikings the third-most prolific sack tandem in the league with 22.5.

From 1997-2000, Baker tutored the defensive line of the Detroit Lions. Under his direction those four years, the Lions defensive line tallied 120.5 sacks, and two defensive linemen were selected to the Pro Bowl: defensive end Robert Porcher in 1997 and 1999 and defensive tackle Luther Elliss in 1999 and 2000. Baker's 1998 and 1999 units finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the league in sacks per pass play, and in 1999 Porcher recorded 15 sacks, the fourth-highest total in team history.

Baker made his NFL coaching debut as defensive line coach for the San Diego Chargers in 1996 after working on the college level for 12 years, beginning in 1984 as outside linebackers coach at his alma mater, Maryland. Next, he went to Army as fullbacks coach in 1986. Baker then moved to Georgia Tech, where he coached outside linebackers from 1987-95, adding defensive coordinator responsibilities in 1995. He contributed to the staff that helped the Yellow Jackets win the National Championship as the nation's only unbeaten team with an 11-0-1 record in 1990.

Baker played outside linebacker at Maryland from 1981-83 and helped the Terrapins win the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1983. He earned his degree in marketing from Maryland in 1985. Baker and his wife, Nevada - an All-ACC track and field performer at Virginia, have three daughters, Nicole (15), Jade (13) and Jasmine (9).

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