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February 9, 2013

The West Effect

North Carolina's 2013 staff has been completed with the hiring of Ron West, who replaces David Duggan as the team's linebackers coach, while also assuming the title of 'co-defensive coordinator.'

West will be returning to the Atlantic Coast Conference from Arizona State, where he spent the 2012 season.

West is reunited with several current Tar Heel coaches that he's previously worked with, and the Clemson graduate returns to the league that he's been associated with for more than 30 years.

The advantage for North Carolina with this hire is not only the fact that they're getting a coach with more than three decades' experience, but he's specifically used to working in the 4-2-5 scheme and is familiar with coaching 'Bandits' and developing them into highly-effective players at multiple schools.

He's also infinitely familiar with recruiting in the ACC region, having spent over a decade at Clemson. He's still got plenty of connections throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and while he's been out of the region for a few years, he should be able to get back up to speed relatively quickly.

With six year's tenure working with Vic Koenning specifically, he'll be well-tuned as to what he's looking to accomplish defensively, and how he wants to practice.

He'll also be more familiar with Koenning's approach to gameday in terms of calling in plays and making mid-game adjustments, which should make the transition a little easier.

West will have plenty of personnel to work with at UNC, including four returning 'Bandits' (Darius Lipford, Norkeithus Otis, Shakeel Rashad, and Junior Gnonkonde) that will be fighting it out for playing time this spring.

He'll also likely spend time working with some of the other Carolina linebackers who will be competing at linebacker, including Tommy Heffernan, Travis Hughes, and P.J. Clyburn, among others.

West, a native of East Point (Ga.), played at Clemson during Charley Pell's resurgence of the Tigers in the late 1970s, and returned to his alma mater when Tommy Bowden got the head job in Death Valley after the 1998 season.

Before joining Bowden at Tulane in 1997, West spent four seasons at Baylor University (1993-1996), where he worked with a young offensive coach named Larry Fedora.

Starting out as Clemson's offensive line coach in 1999, West eventually moved to outside linebackers coach of the Tigers in 2005, when Vic Koenning arrived as defensive coordinator.

Koenning and West put together some of the better defenses in the ACC in 2006 and 2008 at Clemson, but it wasn't enough to keep Bowden his job, and when he departed the two drifted away briefly before uniting at Illinois in 2010.

According to his bio page at Illinois, In 2010, West guided sam linebacker Nate Bussey, a seventh round NFL draft pick and an All-Big Ten honorable mention selection after totaling 83 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and an interception returned for a touchdown.

In 2011, bandit Michael Buchanan had a breakout season with 64 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. He ranked fifth in the Big Ten in sacks and eighth in TFLs.

Koenning, West, and Keith Gilmore were all together at Illinois in 2011 when the Illini had one of the best defenses in that school's history, and naturally they're looking to do it again in Chapel Hill.

It's another solid hire for Fedora, who has now replaced two departing coaches in Duggan and Deke Adams with replacements in Gilmore and West who have approximately 60 years of combined coaching experience between them.






 

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