Continuing an offseason theme, Kevin Sumlin again emphasized experience and pedigree with his latest coaching move.
The Arizona Wildcats on Monday hired Stan Eggen as their defensive line coach.
Eggen, 66, spent the past four seasons as the defensive line coach at New Mexico. He spent the previous two seasons in the same capacity at Iowa State, where he worked under Paul Rhoads, who last month was named Arizona’s defensive coordinator.
Eggen has been a college assistant for 40 years and has a strong reputation as a teacher. He has coached multiple players who went on to play in the NFL, including Michael Bennett, Von Miller, Red Bryant, Antwan Odom, Johnny Jolly and Aaron Schobel.
“We are excited Stan Eggen has joined the Arizona football family as defensive line coach,” Sumlin said in a statement. “Stan’s personal and professional values, fundamental approach to teaching the game, as well as his track record for development and recruiting make him a great fit for our defense and our entire program.”
Sumlin still needs to hire another assistant on the defensive side of the ball. If Rhoads coaches linebackers, as he intimated at his introductory news conference, the final hire likely would coach safeties.
Sumlin dismissed three assistants during the 2019 season: defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, linebackers coach John Rushing and defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei. Cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin was the lone defensive assistant to be retained.
Arizona finished last in the Pac-12 in points allowed and total defense. The Wildcats also had the fewest sacks in the league. The hope is that Rhoads and Eggen can get the most out of some talented front-seven defenders who didn’t play up to their potential this past season.
“I want to thank Coach Sumlin and (Rhoads) for the opportunity to become a part of the Arizona football family,” Eggen said. “I can’t wait to get started immediately, representing such a great institution and getting to know our student-athletes. Tina (Eggen's wife) and I are excited to be able to make our home in the Tucson community.”
Eggen coached Bennett, Miller, Bryant and Jolly while at Texas A&M from 2003-07. Bennett and Miller are still active in the NFL. Miller is a three-time All-Pro for the Denver Broncos and was named MVP of Super Bowl 50.
Eggen coached Odom at Alabama (2001-02) and Schobel at TCU (1998-2000). Eggen joined the Horned Frogs’ staff after his first stint at New Mexico (1997).
Before working for Rhoads at Iowa State, Eggen served as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Louisiana Tech. Rivals has named Eggen one of the top 20 recruiters in the nation on multiple occasions.
Despite the hiring of Rhoads and the pending addition of Eggen, Arizona failed to secure a commitment from four-star Gilbert defensive end Jason Harris, who’s set to sign with Pac-12 South rival Colorado.
The UA still hopes to add several players to its 2020 signing class. The school would like to have the final defensive hire in place by Jan. 17, when the next recruiting contact period begins, although Sumlin consistently has stressed finding the right fit over rushing the process to accommodate the calendar. The second signing period starts Feb. 5.
One of Eggen's former players at New Mexico, defensive tackle Aaron Blackwell, has entered the NCAA transfer portal. Blackwell played at Liberty High School in Peoria and Mesa Community College before attending New Mexico. He missed most of this past season because of a knee injury.
Eggen played safety at Moorhead (Minn.) State and began his coaching career at North Dakota. He has coached in 12 bowl games.