Oklahoma officially announces Zac Alley as Sooners co-defensive coordinator

What was reported more than a week ago is no official as the University of Oklahoma announced the hiring of Zac Alley as Sooners co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Alley comes to the Sooners after helping Jacksonville State finish top 10 in turnovers per game and interceptions per game. The Gamecocks were 33rd in the nation in points allowed per game, helping Jacksonville State win nine games in their first season at the FBS level.

“This a tremendous opportunity,” said Alley in the Sooners official release. “Oklahoma is an elite and historic program that has consistently competed for championships. The opportunity to come to OU and work for someone I really respect and who thinks like I do on defense and who wants to be aggressive and get after people on that side of the ball is exciting.

“Everything I do is based on what Coach Venables did at Clemson. That’s been the foundation for how I’ve built defenses. I always respected how he handled himself as a coach and as a man, and I wanted to emulate that as best I could. From the moment I met him, I always wanted to be like him, have a career like his, lead the best defense in the country like him. He’s obviously had a huge influence on me and I’m excited to be back with him.”

More: Social Media Reacts to the report of Zac Alley as OU’s next defensive coordinator.

Oklahoma’s new defensive coordinator has familiarity with Brent Venables after spending time with the Clemson Tigers from 2011 to 2018 as both a student assistant and graduate assistant. He then spent two seasons at Boise State, coaching the inside and outside linebackers before taking the defensive coordinator job for the University of Louisiana-Monroe and head coach Terry Bowden.

The strong relationship with Brent Venables and the success Alley’s had at his previous stops provide the Sooners continuity on defense and a rising star to help lead the defense.

More: What does Zac Alley bring to the Sooners?

“I’m incredibly excited to welcome Zac to our coaching family here at Oklahoma,” said Venables in the release. “He’s going to fit in really well from a cultural, chemistry and philosophy standpoint. Obviously, there’s a familiarity and comfort based on our background together at Clemson. He’s exceptionally hard-working and tough, and has earned his way up the professional ladder by going out on his own and establishing himself. He’s incredibly bright, innovative and passionate.

“Our players are going to love him. He’s got great humility and confidence, and is always finding ways to get better. He’s coached linebackers and the defensive line, he’s been exposed to the secondary and he was an award-winning special teams coordinator at Boise State. Wherever he’s been he’s molded his units into better versions, and he’ll do the same here. He really fits in well with our staff.”

Oklahoma’s defense took a positive step in 2023, improving in scoring defense, turnovers, and total defense. They are an ascending group that will need to take another step as they prepare for their first season in the SEC.

The Sooners keep the rest of their defensive staff intact while also returning stars Danny Stutsman, Billy Bowman, and Woodi Washington. Oklahoma also brings in one of their best defensive recruiting classes in the modern era for Alley and the Sooners to work with.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire