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Wisconsin football: Justin Wilcox officially named Badgers' defensive coordinator

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It's official: Wisconsin has a new defensive coordinator.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A day after reports stated former USC Trojans assistant Justin Wilcox was finalizing a deal to become the Wisconsin Badgers next defensive coordinator, UW officially confirmed his hiring on Thursday.

The 39-year-old Wilcox spent the last 10 seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Trojans (2014-15), Washington Huskies (2012-13), Tennessee Volunteers (2010-11), and Boise State Broncos (2006-09) to varying degrees of success.

"During my many conversations with numerous football people that I trusted, one name kept surfacing, Justin Wilcox," Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said in a prepared statement. "I am very happy that we were able to get a quality coach like Justin to join our staff. I think he's a great fit for Wisconsin and this program is a great fit for him.

"His addition makes us better. He has tremendous experience at some big-time schools and has coached some really good players. He does a great job putting his players in the best situations so they can be successful."

Wilcox will replace Dave Aranda, who left Wisconsin for LSU earlier in January. He will inherit a defense retaining seven starters in the front seven from the 2015 squad ranked first in the nation in scoring defense, and second overall in total defense.

"It is humbling to be able to work at a place with the personality and character that Wisconsin has," Wilcox said. "The biggest draws to the program were the opportunity to work for Coach Chryst and with the rest of the staff as well as the student-athletes that Wisconsin has in the program. Everything about the culture and tradition of the program, from recruiting, to style of play, to development of players, was appealing to me. This is a special opportunity and I am excited to get started."

For more on Wilcox's defenses and his hire, here's the official press release from Wisconsin's athletic department.

Wilcox named defensive coordinator

Veteran defensive coach fills out Badgers' staff

MADISON, Wis. - Justin Wilcox, who has spent the last 10 years as a defensive coordinator at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington and USC, has been named Wisconsin's defensive coordinator pending University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approval, head coach Paul Chryst announced Thursday.

"During my many conversations with numerous football people that I trusted, one name kept surfacing, Justin Wilcox," Chryst said. "I am very happy that we were able to get a quality coach like Justin to join our staff. I think he's a great fit for Wisconsin and this program is a great fit for him. His addition makes us better. He has tremendous experience at some big-time schools and has coached some really good players. He does a great job putting his players in the best situations so they can be successful."

Wilcox spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at USC. The Trojans won the Pac-12 South title this season and made a second-straight appearance in the Holiday Bowl.

In 2014, USC's defense was in the nation's top 20 in turnover margin, red zone defense and third-down conversion defense. Last year the Trojans led the Pac-12 in third-down conversion defense and scored five defensive touchdowns, good for third-best in the country.

"It is humbling to be able to work at a place with the personality and character that Wisconsin has," Wilcox said. "The biggest draws to the program were the opportunity to work for Coach Chryst and with the rest of the staff as well as the student-athletes that Wisconsin has in the program. Everything about the culture and tradition of the program, from recruiting, to style of play, to development of players, was appealing to me. This is a special opportunity and I am excited to get started."

Before going to USC, Wilcox served as Washington's defensive coordinator the previous two seasons (2012-13). In 2012, the Huskies ranked in the top 40 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense after finishing the previous year ranked lower than 105th in each category. Washington's scoring defense jumped to 29th nationally in 2013, while its pass efficiency defense improved 60 spots to 27th nationally in 2012 and then was 10th in 2013 (first in the Pac-12). Its 41 pass sacks in 2013 were tied for third-most in the nation. The Huskies played in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl and 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl.

Wilcox also spent two seasons as Tennessee's defensive coordinator (2010-11) and four years as the defensive coordinator at Boise State (2006-09). The Broncos went 49-4 during his time at Boise while leading the Western Athletic Conference in total defense and scoring defense each year.

In 2009, Wilcox guided Boise to a No. 14 statistical finish in both total defense and scoring defense and a No. 3 showing in turnover margin. The Broncos bookended the season with two of their most impressive victories clamping down on Pac-10 Conference champion Oregon 19-8 to start the year and then closing with the 17-10 triumph over previously undefeated TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Broncos of 2008 were nearly as tough, finishing 12-1 and winning their second WAC title in three seasons. Wilcox's defense ranked third nationally in scoring, allowing just 12.6 points per game and holding eight of its 13 opponents to 10 points or fewer.

The Broncos also led the WAC in rushing defense in both 2007 and 2006. Boise State was eighth nationally against the run during Wilcox's debut season as defensive coordinator, and his overall defensive scheme was instrumental in helping that 2006 squad to a 13-0 record and the now-famous 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

Wilcox began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Boise State in 2001 and 2002. He then spent three seasons as the linebackers coach at California (2003-05) as the Golden Bears went 26-12 and played in three bowls in that span (2003 Insight Bowl, 2004 Holiday Bowl, 2005 Las Vegas Bowl).

Wilcox, 39, played safety and cornerback at Oregon (1996-99) as the Ducks played in three bowl games (1997 Las Vegas Bowl, 1998 Aloha Classic, 1999 Sun Bowl). In 1999, he was named second-team All-Pac-10 and earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors.

Wilcox earned his bachelor's degree in anthropology from Oregon in 1999. His father, Dave Wilcox, was a Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers (1964-74). His uncle John (Philadelphia Eagles - 1960) and brother Josh (New Orleans Saints - 1998-99) also played In the NFL.

WILCOX SNAPSHOT

BIRTHDAY: Nov. 12, 1976

FAMILY: Single

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, anthropology, Oregon, 1999

COACHING EXPERIENCE: 15 years

YEAR TEAM POSITION BOWL

2001 Boise State Graduate Assistant --

2002 Boise State Graduate Assistant Humanitarian

2003 California Linebackers Insight

2004 California Linebackers Holiday

2005 California Linebackers Las Vegas

2006 Boise State Defensive Coordinator Fiesta

2007 Boise State Defensive Coordinator Hawaii

2008 Boise State Defensive Coordinator Poinsettia

2009 Boise State Defensive Coordinator Fiesta

2010 Tennessee Defensive Coordinator Music City

2011 Tennessee Defensive Coordinator --

2012 Washington Defensive Coordinator Las Vegas

2013 Washington Defensive Coordinator Fight Hunger

2014 USC Defensive Coordinator Holiday

2015 USC Defensive Coordinator Holiday