February 05, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Florida defensive coordinator and longtime NFL assistant Jon Hoke will join South Carolina as co-defensive coordinator, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity because South Carolina has not publicly announced Hoke's hiring.

Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier had been expected to announce Hoke's position Thursday, however, a fatal shooting on campus earlier in the day postponed a planned press conference.

Hoke served as Spurrier's defensive coordinator with the Gators from 1999-2001. He coached defensive backs with the Houston Texans from 2002-08 and most recently with the Chicago Bears from 2009 through this past season.

Hoke will share leadership duties with Lorenzo Ward, who has led the Gamecocks' defense the past three seasons.

South Carolina's defense took a huge slide backward this past season after rising to one of the best in the Southeastern Conference the previous three seasons.

The Gamecocks were fifth in SEC in total yards allowed at 350 a game in 2013, a total that soared to 432 yards a game this season to finish next-to-last in the 14-team league. South Carolina lost five starters on defense this past year, including the NFL's overall No. 1 pick in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans.

South Carolina's defensive deficiencies showed most greatly with the team surrendering three fourth-quarter double-digit leads in losses to Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee last season.

Spurrier had continually said he would wait until after National Signing Day before determining what coaching changes would occur. Calling on his old assistant in Hoke, 58, was apparently at the top of his list.

Hoke has also coached at North Carolina State, Bowling Green, San Diego State, Kent State and Missouri before joining Spurrier at Florida.

Hoke is the brother of recently fired Michigan coach Brady Hoke.

Spurrier had reached out to Hoke about South Carolina's defensive coordinator spot in 2004 shortly after becoming Gamecocks head coach. Hoke turned him down then and Spurrier went with co-defensive coordinators in John Thompson and Tyrone Nix. That shared leadership lasted just one season before Thompson left.

Ward held the title of defensive coordinator since 2009, although assistant head coach Ellis Johnson was in charge of South Carolina's defense until he left to become Southern Miss head coach after the 2011 season.

Gamecocks trustees planned to meet by conference call Thursday to finalize Hoke's contract. That was postponed by the shooting, in which authorities said two died in an apparent murder-suicide.

University spokesman Wes Hickman said the trustees would most likely not meet to approve the athletic contract before Monday.

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