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New Mexico State football head coach DeWayne Walker announced early Wednesday evening that David Elson has been hired as the Aggies’ new defensive coordinator.
“We are very excited to have Coach Elson coming on board here at NM State,” Walker said. “We see everything very much the same when it comes to schematics and philosophies on the defensive side of the ball. I’m confident that Coach Elson will work hard to improve the defensive side of our football team.”
“I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to work with someone with the background like Coach Walker has,” Elson said. “I have followed his career over the years since the first time we met when he was with the Washington Redskins. To be a part of the turnaround at New Mexico State going into the fourth year under Coach Walker, it obviously starts with defense. Coach Walker and I share a lot of common beliefs and I feel this is a great fit and I can’t wait to get started.”
Elson most recently was the defensive coordinator at Franklin-Simpson High School in Franklin, Ky., as he helped the Wildcats to the Class 4A state championship game in 2011, while his defense allowed 16.5 points per game.
In 2010, Elson was the Defensive Quality Control Coordinator at Indiana University.
Elson served as head coach at Western Kentucky for seven seasons, guiding the Hilltopper football team through the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision. WKU began the move in 2007, and became a full-fledged FBS member in 2009.
Elson was named the school’s head football coach, March 5, 2003, after serving as defensive coordinator for WKU’s 2002 NCAA I-AA national championship team. He replaced Jack Harbaugh, who retired after 14 years at the helm of the program. He was the longest-tenured assistant on Harbaugh’s staff, working seven years on the Hill with defensive backs, the last two as defensive coordinator.
At the time of his hiring, Elson was the youngest head coach in Division I football. He won 39 games during his seven seasons at the helm, and was part of 100 total victories over 14 seasons on the Hilltopper staff. Prior to making the move the FBS, WKU advanced to the NCAA 1-AA playoffs on six occasions – including a string of five straight appearances from 2000-04.
While the Toppers became eligible for the Sun Belt Conference Championship and a bowl berth beginning in 2009, Elson experienced plenty of success in his 14 years at WKU. The Hilltoppers finished with a winning record in 12 of those seasons, and claimed the 2002 NCAA Division I-AA National Championship while winning Ohio Valley and Gateway Football Conference titles in 2000 and 2002, respectively. Elson was the defensive coordinator on the 2002 National Championship team. WKU advanced to postseason play two more times after he was named head coach.
Not only did the Hilltoppers reach the top spot in the national polls twice during the 2005 season, they posted top-15 finishes following both the 2003 and 2004 campaigns. That included finishing seventh at the end of his initial season, after he matched the legendary E.A. Diddle for the most victories by a WKU first-year head coach after leading the Toppers to a 9-4 record while helping the Hilltoppers advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs. The following year, Elson was a finalist for the 2005 Eddie Robinson national Coach of the Year Award after guiding WKU to a 9-3 finish, including a 6-1 mark in the Gateway Football Conference, despite losing 25 seniors from his first squad.
Although he started as a defensive backs coach and served as defensive coordinator in 2001 and 2002 prior to his promotion, Elson has proven he can win relying on both sides of the ball while building a solid special teams unit.
Prior to WKU, Elson served as a graduate assistant coach in 1994 and 1995 at Southern Illinois while earning a master’s degree in education. He is a 1994 graduate of Butler, where he was a three-year letter winner and started at strong safety his final two seasons. The Bulldogs were conference champions in both his sophomore and junior years.
A native of Indianapolis, Elson and his wife Kathy have three daughters, Lauren, Jessica and Maggie.
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