University of Louisville head coach Jeff Brohm officially hired Steve Ellis as the cornerbacks coach on Friday.
“Steve has done a great job developing cornerbacks throughout his career,” Brohm said. “He’s a tremendous teacher of technique and a tireless recruiter. Steve brings tremendous credentials to our defense and will be a great addition to our defensive staff.”
Ellis joins the Louisville staff after two productive seasons coaching the cornerbacks at East Carolina. Under Ellis’, the Pirates netted a combined total of 25 interceptions over a two-year span, which represented ECU’s highest per-game clip (1.19) since the 2013 and 2014 campaigns when they averaged 1.23 interceptions per game.
Leading the Pirates to a bowl game for the first time since 2014, the 2021 Pirates stood 14th nationally and second in the American Athletic Conference with 15 interceptions – seven of which were collectively tallied by Ja’Quan McMillian (5) and Malik Fleming (2) – two of Ellis’ pupils.
Under Ellis’ watchful eye, McMillian captured the 2021 NCAA FBS Statistical Championship in passes defended (1.75), while also standing fourth nationally in total interceptions, fifth in interceptions per game (0.42) and 22nd in fumbles recovered (0.67) to go along with his 56 tackles – which was second among all Pirate defenders. McMillian was a five-time 2021 Second-Team All-America selection (FWAA, Associated Press, The Sporting News, The Athletic and Phil Steele Magazine), a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and an All-AAC choice for the second-straight year.
In his initial season with the Pirates, Ellis provided an immediate impact to the Pirates’ secondary as his young position unit accounted for half of the team’s interception total with five.
Ellis spent 19 years coaching at the Division I level, which included a 2019 assignment as defensive backs coach at South Florida, 10 seasons at Middle Tennessee State and six campaigns at Nicholls (La.) State, his alma mater.
While in working under former UofL head coach Charlie Strong at USF, Ellis played an integral role helping a Bulls’ unit that stood among the Top 20 nationally in five statistical categories during the 2019 season – redzone defense (4th/67.4 percent), tackles for loss (5th/8.3 pg), fumbles recovered (10th/12), pass defense (15th/189.5 ypg) and turnovers gained (15th/24).
As ten-year assistant at Middle Tennessee, Ellis was part of seven bowl appearances while serving as cornerbacks coach (2009-2018), defensive coordinator (2011-14) and recruiting coordinator (2015-2018).
As defensive coordinator at MTSU, Ellis orchestrated an impressive turnaround as the Raiders improved 48 spots in the national rankings in scoring defense, 29 in rush defense and 10 in total defense in 2012 (a year later, the Blue Raiders stood fifth at the FBS level in turnovers gained and 17th in red zone defense).
In his last four seasons with the Raiders, Ellis helped lead the squad to postseason showings at the Bahama Bowl (2015), Hawai’i Bowl (2016), Camellia Bowl (2017) and New Orleans Bowl (2018), the latter following a Conference USA East Division title and league championship game appearance.
Ellis began coaching career in 2003 at Nicholls State, first working with the safeties before assuming duties as linebackers coach (2004-05) and defensive coordinator (2006-08).
After capturing the 2005 Southland Conference title at Nicholls State, the 2006 Colonels ranked 19th nationally in total defense and his 2007 unit topped the league in interceptions, total and pass defense.
During his six-year tenure Nicholls State, he directed the efforts of three FCS All-America selections, seven first-team all-conference performers, a conference player-of-the-year (third-round Baltimore Ravens draft pick Lardarius Webb), a defensive player-of-the-year (Kareem Moore) and two newcomer-of-the-year award winners. He was also a two-time participant in the NFL Coaches Fellowship Program, learning from Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau in 2008 before enjoying a similar experience with the Buffalo Bills in 2010.
As a player, Ellis was a three-year starter, a three-year all-conference standout and team captain as a defensive back at NSU, wrapping up a playing career in 2002 with over 200 tackles and five interceptions before earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 2003.
He and wife Regina are the parents of three children – Caleb, Aubrey Grace and Ava Rose.
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