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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs announce defensive coaching staff



The Bucs today announced their defensive coaching staff.

Here is the release from the team:


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers today announced that they have hired Ron Cooper as Defensive Backs Coach, Bryan Cox as Front Seven Coach, Bob Fraser as Linebackers Coach, Jeff Hafley as Assistant Defensive Backs Coach, Tem Lukabu as Defensive Quality Control Coach and Randy Melvin as Defensive Line Coach to the 2012 defensive coaching staff.

Cooper begins his tenure with Tampa Bay after spending the last 29 seasons in the college ranks, including two different stints as a defensive coordinator and three as a head coach. Cooper has been with LSU for the past three seasons, overseeing one of the top secondaries in the country that included national award winners in CB Morris Claiborne, CB Patrick Peterson and CB Tyrann Mathieu. Cooper coached the last two winners of the Jim Thorpe Award - Peterson in 2010 and Claiborne in 2011 - given to the top defensive back in college football, as well as the last two winners of the Chuck Bednarik Award - Peterson in 2010 and Mathieu in 2011 - given to the nation's Defensive Player of the Year. As a sophomore this past season, Mathieu was also named as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

All three players earned consensus All-American honors under Cooper, with Claiborne and Mathieu becoming the first cornerback teammates to earn first-team AP honors in NCAA history. This year, Claiborne (Coaches) and Mathieu (AP) each earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, while Peterson (Coaches) earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 before being selected fifth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.

As a unit, LSU's secondary accounted for 16 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries and 12 forced fumbles in 2011, as the Tigers led the nation in turnover margin and ranked fifth in total interceptions with 18. The team allowed just seven passing touchdowns all season, the fewest by a Tiger team since limiting opponents to five in 1989.

In his first two seasons, Cooper made an immediate impact with the Tigers, helping the team to the Capital One Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. In his first year, LSU's pass defense jumped to 29th after ranking 73rd in the nation the previous year. The improvement continued, with the team ranking No. 10 in the country in 2010 and No. 8 in 2011, where the team finished 13-1 and earned an SEC Championship and a trip to the BCS National Championship Game.

Before his time at LSU, Cooper spent five years at South Carolina, serving as the defensive backs coach (2004), outside linebackers/special teams coordinator (2005), secondary/assistant head coach (2006-07) and safeties coach (2008). In 2008, Cooper assisted with a defense that ranked No. 1 in the SEC and No. 2 in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 160 yards per game. With the Gamecocks, Cooper helped the team to appearances in the 2005 Independence Bowl, 2006 Liberty Bowl and 2009 Outback Bowl.

Prior to his stay in South Carolina, Cooper worked the 2003 season as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and 2002 as the secondary coach at Wisconsin. Cooper broke into the head coaching ranks with Eastern Michigan (1993-94) and went on to become head coach at Louisville (1995-97) and Alabama A&M (1998-01). Cooper's 1995 Louisville team led the nation in takeaways and finished No. 9 in the nation in scoring defense. The following season, the Cardinals ranked No. 4 in the country in both total defense and rushing defense. At Alabama A&M, Cooper guided the Bulldogs to the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game in 2000. His squad led the nation in rushing defense and they ranked No. 8 nationally in scoring defense. He also discovered DE Robert Mathis and coached him in his first three collegiate seasons with Mathis still holding the school record for career sacks and tackles for loss.

Before becoming head coach at Eastern Michigan, Cooper served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame (1991-92), helping the Irish to victories over No. 3-ranked Florida in the Sugar Bowl and No. 4 Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl following the 1991 and 1992 seasons.

Cooper also served as the defensive coordinator at UNLV (1990), assistant coach at East Carolina (1989), defensive coordinator at Murray State (1987-88), assistant coach at Austin Peay (1985-86), graduate assistant at Minnesota (1984) and graduate assistant at Appalachian State (1983).

Cox joins the Buccaneers after six years in the NFL coaching ranks with the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins. This past season, Cox worked with new Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan in Miami as the pass rush coach, helping the team to a Top 10 finish in sacks with 41 accounted for by 13 different players. The team finished with four different players having four or more sacks, including Jared Odrick (6.0), Randy Starks (4.5), Jason Taylor (7.0) and Cameron Wake (8.5).

Cox joined the Dolphins after spending the 2009-10 seasons with the Cleveland Browns as defensive line coach. In his first year with the Browns, he helped DE Robaire Smith come back from an Achilles' injury to start in 15 games and finish fifth on the team with 62 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He also oversaw the development of NT Ahtyba Rubin and DE Brian Schaefering, both of whom made their first NFL starts in 2009. Rubin, a second-year performer, recorded 38 tackles and started the final five games as the Browns held their opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in three of them. Schaefering played in the final five games of the season after spending the first 12 weeks on the practice squad, responding with 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his limited action. In all, Cox's defensive lineman accounted for 11.5 sacks in 2009.

Cox started his coaching career with the New York Jets spending three seasons as their assistant defensive line coach (2006-08). In 2008, Cox helped the Jets defense rank seventh in the NFL in both sacks (41.0) and rushing defense (94.9 ypg), during which time DT Shaun Ellis led the team with 8.0 sacks and finished fifth on the team in tackles.

Cox had a stellar 12-year career as a linebacker in the NFL after being chosen by Miami in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft (113th overall). He played the first five years of his career in Miami before spending time with Chicago (1996-97), where Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano was a defensive assistant. Cox then went on to play for the N.Y. Jets (1998-2000), New England (2001) and finished his career with New Orleans (2002). During his career, he appeared in 165 regular season games, including 145 starts. He posted 51.5 career sacks, including a high of 14 in 1992, a figure which led the Dolphins that year and earned him the first of three Pro Bowl selections.

Fraser brings 27 years (1985-2011) of coaching experience to the Buccaneers, and spent the last six seasons at Rutgers University, where he served as defensive coordinator/defensive line (2011), co-defensive coordinator/linebackers (2009-10), linebackers coach (2007-08) and assistant to the head coach (1998-05). Over the past three seasons, Fraser led the Scarlet Knights to some of the top-ranked defenses in the nation, including the 14th-ranked defense in 2011 and the 18th-ranked defense in 2009.

In 2011, the team also ranked eighth in scoring defense, ninth in passing defense, 15th in sacks and eighth in tackles for loss nationally. Fraser saw two players in his defensive unit earn first team All-Big East in 2011, including LB Khaseem Greene, who was also named Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year, the first such award in school history.

Prior to joining the Rutgers staff, Fraser served nine seasons as linebackers coach (1998-2005) at Colgate University, coaching three Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year honorees, nine All-Patriot League selections and two All-Americans. Fraser started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Allegheny College, in 1985 and 1986, and later served in the same role at Rutgers for the 1987 and 1988 seasons. He returned to Allegheny two more times (1989-91, 1997), earning a NCAA Division III National Championship in 1990, with stints at Holy Cross (1992-95) and Northeastern (1996) in between.

Hafley joins the Buccaneers after one season as the secondary coach at Rutgers (2011) and five seasons at Pittsburgh as the secondary coach (2008-10) and defensive assistant/cornerbacks (2006-07). In his lone season with Rutgers, he led the ninth-ranked passing defense in the country, coaching DB Duron Harmon to first-team All-Big East honors and CB Logan Ryan to second-team All-Big East honors. In Hafley's final two seasons at Pittsburgh, he coached four players that earned All-Big East accolades, and, in his first season, he helped mentor NFL Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis, who went on to be a Jim Thorpe finalist, All-American and the 14th overall draft selection of the N.Y. Jets.

Prior to his time at Pittsburgh, Hafley served as defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator (2004-05) and defensive assistant/defensive tackles (2002-03) at the University of Albany after spending the 2001 season at Worcester Polytechnic as running backs coach. During his time at Albany, he coached S Kurt Campbell, who became the first player in the school's history to be selected in the NFL Draft. Hafley also played collegiately for four years as a wide receiver at Siena College, where he later began his coaching career while recovering from three separate surgeries that kept him off the playing field.

Like Fraser and Hafley, Lukabu joins Tampa Bay from Rutgers University, where he was the outside linebackers coach for the past two seasons (2010-11). In 2011, Lukabu was instrumental in LB Khaseem Greene's standout season, in which the latter led the team with 144 tackles and earned conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Before joining the Scarlet Knights, Lukabu spent two seasons as linebackers coach (2008-09) at the University of Rhode Island, and mentored a pair of notable players in Matt Hansen, a second-team All-Colonial Athletic Association and All-New England Sports Writer honoree, and Rob Damon, a third-team Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) All-American and third-team All-CAA recipient.

Lukabu began his collegiate coaching career with Rutgers working in player development (2006-08). A former linebacker himself, Lukabu was a three-year starter at Colgate University and, in 2003, captained the national runner-up squad that finished 15-1 and ranked second in the nation. That same season, he was named a third-team AP All-American and was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the National Defensive Player of the Year.

Melvin brings 29 years of coaching experience - including six at the NFL level - to the Buccaneers. Melvin worked as defensive line coach under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots (2000-01), and later as defensive line coach under Romeo Crennel with the Cleveland Browns (2005-08). While with New England, Melvin was part of a Patriots team that won Super Bowl XXVI, the first world championship in the franchise's history. In that game, the Patriots defense held the St. Louis Rams - then the league's top scoring offense - to a mere 17 points.

Most recently, Melvin spent the 2011 season coaching the defensive line for the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League, helping the team to a Grey Cup Championship. During the team's campaign, Melvin's dominant defensive line accounted for 38 of the team's 54 sacks, leading to three of his players being named West Division All-Stars.

Melvin also has extensive experience at the collegiate level, having worked as defensive line coach at Rutgers (2002-04, 2010) and Temple (2009), defensive ends coach at Purdue (1997-99), defensive tackles coach at Wyoming (1995-96) and defensive line coach at Eastern Illinois (1988-94).

At Temple, Melvin helped DE Adrian Robinson to a 12-sack season on the way to Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. The Owls' defensive unit was ranked 18th in the nation in rushing defense and tied for 23rd in sacks.

In 2002, his first season with Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights allowed 23.5 fewer rushing yards per game than the previous year. That progression continued in the next season as the Melvin-led defensive front allowed nearly 44 fewer yards per game in 2003, than it had in 2002.

While at Wyoming, the Cowboys recorded a Western Athletic Conference-best 33 sacks in 1995, and followed it up with another league-best 46 sacks in 1996. During that time, Melvin also gained valuable experience coaching in the pros, starting out with the Denver Broncos in 1995 and with the New York Jets in 1996-97 as part of the NFL's minority coaching fellowship program.

As a starter on the Eastern Illinois defensive line for three seasons, Melvin received AP All-America recognition (Division II) in 1979 and 1980. He was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1995.

Bill Sheridan, Defensive Coordinator
Ron Cooper, Defensive Backs Coach
Bryan Cox, Front Seven Coach
Bob Fraser, Linebackers Coach
Jeff Hafley, Assistant Defensive Backs Coach
Tem Lukabu, Defensive Quality Control Coach
Randy Melvin, Defensive Line Coach

[Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 2:18pm]


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