By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU will have at least one staff opening this offseason.
Defensive line coach Pete Jenkins will retire after LSU’s bowl game, the school announced Sunday through an official release. Outside linebacker coach Dennis “Meatball” Johnson will take over as defensive line coach after the bowl game.
“We are forever grateful for Coach Jenkins and his 15 years of service to LSU,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said via an official statement. “Coach Jenkins is one of the most respected coaches in football when it comes to defensive play.
“The LSU football program benefitted and improved because of Coach Jenkins. Our defensive line played at an extremely high level throughout the 2017 season due to the teaching, technique and expectations he instilled on his players.”
The news doesn’t come as a big surprise. Jenkins, age 76, only came out of retirement last season upon Orgeron’s request. He wanted his self-described mentor to replace him as Orgeron took the interim coach job and Jenkins agreed to stay on once Orgeron was promoted to full-time boss.
“When I came back last year, my hope was to be helpful to Coach O,” Jenkins said. “He’s been so good to me. I really appreciate the opportunity to come back. Being 76 (years old), I wouldn’t have come back to for anyone but Coach O. I feel great about the direction Coach O has the program headed and the things that he’s doing.
“There are so many special memories for me and my family at LSU. I’ve been truly blessed. There’s no place better on a Saturday night than Tiger Stadium and I will always be a Tiger. The timing is right. I just can’t express how much LSU football means to me.”
This latest stint has been Jenkins’ third at LSU. He first joined the Tigers in 1980 and remained with the program for 11 years, serving as defensive line coach and taking on defensive coordinator duties in 1982 and then again from 1987-90.
After his first 11-year run with the Tigers, Jenkins returned to LSU in 2000 and served as defensive line coach for two years.
“Outside of my family, the greatest thing that has happened to Pete Jenkins is LSU football,” Jenkins said. “It was my dream to be able to coach at LSU and I’ve been fortunate enough to do it on three different occasions.”
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