Nick Holt is in his third season as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He was hired Jan. 2, 2017.
In Holt’s second season at Purdue, junior Markus Bailey led the team with a career-high 115 total tackles, while sophomore Derrick Barnes finished third with 92 stops. Barnes’ classmate, Cornel Jones, led all Boilermakers with 12.5 tackles for loss in 2018. Bailey earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, while Barnes was a honorable mention honoree.
Holt made an immediate impact in his first season with the Boilermakers, helping to cut Purdue’s opponent scoring average by 17.7 points from the previous season (38.2 points per game in 2016 to 20.5 points per game in 2017). Linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley (97) and Markus Bailey (89) topped the team in tackles under Holt’s leadership, with Bentley wrapping up his Purdue career by garnering Foster Farms Bowl Defensive Most Valuable Player honors against Arizona. Both linebackers were named honorable mention All-Big Ten.
A veteran with 32 years of coaching experience, including two as a head coach and 17 as a defensive coordinator, Holt has coached in 16 bowl games, including seven BCS bowls. He was on the USC coaching staff that won the 2003 national championship and was a part of five Pac-10 title staffs.
Holt rejoined head coach Jeff Brohm’s staff at Purdue after leading Western Kentucky to a 51-31 victory over Memphis in the 2016 Boca Raton Bowl as interim head coach.
Prior to being elevated to the interim role, Holt served as the Hilltoppers’ associate head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2013 to 2016. Under Holt’s guidance, the Hilltoppers improved their scoring defense from 121st nationally in 2014 (39.9) to 41st in 2016 (24.6), their total defense from 120th (509.9) to 41st (376.6) and their rushing defense from 111th (220.8) to third (97.2) among FBS schools. In his first season at Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers ranked 15th nationally in total defense (339.2) and 10th in passing defense (177.9).
Prior to joining the Western Kentucky staff, Holt spent three seasons (2009-11) at Washington as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. The Huskies played in the 2011 Alamo Bowl and the 2010 Holiday Bowl. In his first season, Washington cut its scoring defense by nearly 12 points per game and its total defense from 451.8 yards per game in 2008 to 389.5 in 2009. The Huskies finished second in the Pac-10 in passing defense in 2010, allowing 194.4 yards per game.
Holt has had two stints at USC, serving three seasons as the defensive coordinator and line coach (2006-08) and three seasons as linebackers coach (2001-03). During his six combined seasons with the Trojans, USC posted an overall record of 63-14, a Pac-10 record of 41-10, won the 2003 BCS national championship, four Rose Bowls (2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008) and one Orange Bowl (2002). With Holt as the coordinator, the 2006 Trojans finished the season ranked tied for ninth nationally in rushing defense (91.1), 11th in scoring defense (15.2) and 20th in total defense (295.8). In 2008, USC led the nation in scoring defense, allowing 9.0 points per game while holding eight opponents to seven points or less with three shutouts. The 2008 Trojans paced the NCAA in passing defense (134.3) total defense (221.8) and passing efficiency defense (85.75) while ranking second by allowing 221.8 yards of total offense per game, the lowest total by a Pac-10 team since 1971.
In between stints at USC, Holt was the head coach at Idaho during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, posting a 5-18 record. He previously served as the Vandals’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach (1994-97) and defensive line and recruiting coordinator (1990-93). The Vandals made five appearances in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs and had the No. 1-ranked rushing defense in 1994.
Holt also has served as the defensive line coach at Louisville (1998-2000) and as the inside linebackers coach (1988-89) and as a graduate assistant (1986-87) at UNLV. With the Cardinals, Holt developed a defensive line that finished second in the nation and broke the school record with 50 sacks. The 2000 team finished second nationally in rushing defense (79.9), went 9-3, won the Conference USA championship and played in the Liberty Bowl. Louisville also played in the 1998 Motor City Bowl and 1999 Humanitarian Bowl.
Holt has coached/recruited five conference defensive players of the year: Jeff Robinson (1992 Idaho, Big Sky), Ryan Phillips (1995 Idaho, Big Sky), Dwayne White (2001 Louisville, Conference USA), Sedrick Ellis (2006 USC, Pacific-10) and Xavius Boyd (2013 Western Kentucky, Sun Belt).
A native of San Jose, California, Holt was a four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain and Most Valuable Player as a linebacker at the University of the Pacific. He was named to the Associated Press All-West Coast team in 1984 and 1985 and an honorable mention All-American in 1985. He graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in political economics.
Holt (born Oct. 15, 1962) and his wife, Julie, have two sons, Nick and Ben. Ben currently is a redshirt junior linebacker at Western Kentucky.
Anthony Poindexter is in his third season as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. He was hired Jan. 2, 2017.
Poindexter’s second season at Purdue saw safeties Navon Mosley (93) and Jacob Thieneman (74) finish second and fourth on the team in tackles, respectively. Thieneman, an Academic All-District and honorable mention All-Big Ten selection, ended the 2018 season second on the team with five sacks.
In his first season with the Boilermakers, Poindexter helped lead a defense that saw its opponent scoring average plummet from 38.2 points per game in 2016 to 20.5 in 2017. Safeties Thieneman (80) and Mosely (65) finished third and fifth on the team in tackles, respectively. Thieneman was named honorable mention All-Big Ten and secured Purdue’s victory in the Foster Farms Bowl with an interception on Arizona’s final drive.
Poindexter came to Purdue after three seasons (2014-16) as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Connecticut. In 2016, Poindexter coached Senior Bowl-bound safety Obi Melifonwu to All-American Athletic Conference honors. Melifonwu paced the Huskies with 118 tackles, including 73 solo stops, and four interceptions. During the 2015 season, Poindexter directed a unit that ranked seventh in the nation in red zone defense (73 percent), 15th in scoring defense (19.5), 20th in passing defense (189.3) and 33rd in total defense (355.1). Safety Andrew Adams was named second-team All-AAC after leading the Huskies with 103 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and three interceptions.
Prior to UConn, Poindexter spent 11 seasons at Virginia, his alma mater, in a variety of roles. He got his start in collegiate coaching as a graduate assistant in 2003 and subsequently coached the running backs in 2004 and 2005. He served as Cavaliers’ running backs/assistant special teams coach from 2006 to 2008, defensive backs/assistant special teams coach in 2009, safeties and special teams coordinator from 2010 to 2012, and safeties coach in 2013.
In 2013, Poindexter coached All-American safety Anthony Harris to first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors after he led the nation with eight interceptions.
Poindexter’s defensive backs limited the opposition to a 53.7 passing completion rate in 2011, and the Cavaliers ranked 21st in the nation in passing defense in 2009 (184.6 yards per game). Second-team All-ACC safety Ras-I Dowling and cornerback Chris Cook were selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.
As running backs coach at Virginia, Poindexter coached Cedric Peerman, a nine-year NFL veteran, to 1,749 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
An outstanding player in his own right, Poindexter was a two-time consensus All-American (1997 and 1998) and the 1998 ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a safety for the Cavaliers. He is one of only three players in ACC history to be named all-conference three times. He was named the 1998 Brian Piccolo Award winner, presented to the ACC’s most courageous football player. A hard-hitter compared with Ronnie Lott, Poindexter finished his collegiate career with 342 tackles, the second-most among defensive backs in school history. His No. 3 jersey was retired by Virginia in 2009.
Despite tearing his ACL during his senior season, Poindexter was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL Draft and was a member of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV championship team (as was former Purdue cornerback Rod Woodson).
A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, Poindexter (born July 28, 1976) graduated from Virginia in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. He was inducted into the Virginia High School Hall of Fame in 2013. He and his wife, Kimberly, have three children: Morocca, Anthony Jr. and Chloe.
Kevin Wolthausen is in his third season at Purdue and second as an assistant coach working with special teams and the defense. He spent the 2017 season in quality control. He was hired June 1, 2017.
Wolthausen’s first season as an assistant at Purdue saw tackles Lorenzo Neal and Anthony Watts anchor the defensive line on the interior. Neal wrapped up his junior season with 30 tackles, including 3.0 for losses with a sack, a pair of PBUs and a blocked kick en route to honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. Watts, a sophomore, took over the starting spot alongside Neal inside and posted 42 tackles, including 3.5 for losses with a sack. Watts broke up a pair of passes and hauled down his first career interception. Ends Kai Higgins and Giovanni Reviere had 30 and 28 tackles, respectively.
On special teams, senior kicker Spencer Evans connected on 78.3 percent of his field goal attempts (18 of 23), while freshman Rondale Moore’s 744 combined kick return yards helped lead him to winning the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player.
Wolthausen, who spent the 2012 season as defensive line coach at Purdue, returned to the Boilermakers after coaching the previous three seasons at Connecticut. He served as the Huskies’ special teams coordinator and linebackers coach in 2016 following two seasons as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. The Huskies played in the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl.
In 2013, Wolthausen served as special teams coordinator at Florida International.
In his first stint at Purdue, Wolthausen helped guide the Boilermakers to the 2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl. Defensive tackle Kawann Short amassed 15.5 tackles for loss, including seven sacks, en route to earning second-team All-America honors. Short was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Wolthausen originally joined the Boilermakers from the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, where he served as defensive line coach. The Locomotives won UFL championships in 2009 and 2010 and lost in the title game in 2011.
Prior to spending the 2007 season with the Atlanta Falcons, he coached four years (2003-06) at Louisville. Starting with the Cardinals as the linebacker coach, he moved to defensive line and became co-defensive coordinator in 2006.
In 2005, Wolthausen mentored defensive end Elvis Dumervil to consensus All-America honors. Dumervil, who broke the NCAA record with six sacks in a game against Kentucky, was named the 2005 Big East Player of the Year, while also winning the Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendricks awards. Dumervil was selected in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Wolthausen began his coaching career in 1980 as student assistant at Cal State Northridge before returning to his alma mater, Humboldt State, as a part-time defensive assistant from 1980 to 1982.
Wolthausen moved on to Arizona as a graduate assistant for the 1983 and 1984 season before becoming full-time with the Wildcats as outside linebackers coach in 1985 and defensive line coach in 1986.
In 1987, Wolthausen followed head coach Larry Smith from Arizona to USC, where he helped guide the Trojans to three Rose Bowl appearances in six seasons (1987-92).
After two seasons as defensive line coach at Oklahoma in 1993 and 1994, Wolthausen moved to Arizona State. The 1996 Sun Devils came up just shy of winning at least a share of the school’s first national title after falling to Ohio State 20-17 in the final seconds of the 1997 Rose Bowl. ASU finished the year ranked fourth nationally with an 11-1 record.
Wolthausen (born Dec. 27, 1957) played linebacker at Humboldt, earning all-league honors in 1979, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1981. He and his wife, Michel, have a son, Noah, and a daughter, Quinn.
Reggie Johnson is in his third season as defensive line coach. He was hired Jan. 2, 2017.
Johnson’s second season at Purdue saw tackles Lorenzo Neal and Anthony Watts anchor the defensive line on the interior. Neal wrapped up his junior season with 30 tackles, including 3.0 for losses with a sack, a pair of PBUs and a blocked kick en route to honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. Watts, a sophomore, took over the starting spot alongside Neal inside and posted 42 tackles, including 3.5 for losses with a sack. Watts broke up a pair of passes and hauled down his first career interception. Ends Kai Higgins and Giovanni Reviere had 30 and 28 tackles, respectively.
Johnson’s first season finished with defensive tackle Gelen Robinson earning third-team All-Big Ten honors. Robinson wrapped up his collegiate playing career with a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss, including four sacks. Defensive end Danny Ezechukwu was feted with honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after amassing 50 total tackles, including nine for loss and five sacks. Defensive tackle Neal enjoyed a breakout season, totaling 22 tackles, including 5.5 for loss and a pair of sacks, en route to honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades.
Johnson joined the Boilermakers after spending the 2016 season at Western Kentucky, where he coached the defensive ends. The Hilltoppers’ four primary defensive ends racked up 98 tackles, including 22 for loss and 11 sacks, with six pass breakups, two fumbles recovered and an interception.
Prior to Western Kentucky, Johnson spent two seasons as defensive coordinator, linebackers and defensive line coach at Alabama A&M (2014-15), two seasons as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Alabama-Birmingham (2012-13) and four seasons as linebackers coach at Arkansas (2008-11). Previously, he served four seasons as linebackers coach (2004-07), one season as defensive line coach (2003) and two years as a graduate assistant (1997-98) at Louisville, his alma mater. Johnson had a three-year stint at Alabama A&M, where he served as special teams coordinator and defensive coach (1998-99) and inside linebackers coach (2000) and spent two seasons at UTEP as defensive ends (2001) and linebackers (2002) coach.
Johnson has coached in nine bowl games, including the 2005 Gator Bowl, 2006 Orange Bowl, 2010 Sugar Bowl and 2011 Cotton Bowl.
In 2003 at Louisville, Johnson helped mentor future All-American, Bronko Nagurski Award and Ted Hendricks Award winner Elvis Dumervil, as well as freshman and future first-round NFL Draft pick Amobi Okoye. Dummervil went on to an NFL career that has seen him selected to the Pro Bowl five times and set the Baltimore Ravens’ franchise record for sacks in a season with 17. Okoye, who was the youngest player ever drafted at the age of 19 when he was selected by the Houston Texans with the 10th overall pick in 2007, played six seasons in the NFL with the Texans and Chicago Bears.
Johnson was a four-year letterwinner as a linebacker at Louisville from 1987 to 1990. As a senior, he played on a team that went 10-1-1, including a 34-7 victory over Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl. Johnson graduated from Louisville in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and earned a master’s degree in education from Louisville in 1998.
Johnson (born April 14, 1969) and his wife, Eulice, have two children, Sydney and Jordan.
Defensive Quality Control
Dan Rowe is in his third season as defensive quality control. He was hired Feb. 21, 2017.
Rowe came to the Boilermakers from Washington State, where he spent the 2016 season as a defensive graduate assistant. The Cougars went 8-5 and played in the Holiday Bowl.
Before his lone season at Washington State, Rowe spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Western Kentucky under current Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm. The Hilltoppers went a combined 20-7 overall, including victories in the 2014 Bahamas Bowl, 2015 Conference USA Championship Game and 2015 Miami Beach Bowl. Western Kentucky’s scoring defense improved from 39.8 points per game (120th in the Football Bowl Subdivision) in 2014 to 25.9 (50th) in 2015, while finishing second in the nation with 31 turnovers created in his final season on staff.
Prior to Western Kentucky, Rowe served one season as assistant offensive line coach at Northern Michigan (2013), one season as a defensive and special teams graduate assistant at Wyoming (2012) and two seasons as a defensive assistant and video coordinator at Yale (2010-11).
A 2010 cum laude graduate from the University of New Hampshire, Rowe earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology: sports studies, with a minor in education. He began his coaching career as an undergraduate student assistant with the Wildcats.
Defensive Graduate Assistant
Jontavius Morris is in his first season as a defensive graduate assistant.
In three seasons at UAB, Morris started 19 of 35 games and tallied 54 total tackles. In his junior year in 2015, he finished with 20 tackles, including two for loss, blocked a kick and returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown against North Texas. Morris graduated from UAB in 2016 with a degree in healthcare management
After transferring from UAB, Morris spent one season a defensive tackle on Western Kentucky’s 2015 Conference USA championship team. He finished his lone season with the Hilltoppers with 34 total tackles, including five for loss, with a pair of sacks, three PBUs and a fumble recovered.
Defensive Graduate Assistant