LSU’s Brian Kelly finds new defensive coordinator in Blake Baker of Missouri

Baker formerly served as LSU's linebackers coach under Ed Orgeron for two seasons

LSU football coach Brian Kelly has hired Missouri's defensive coordinator Blake Baker to serve in the same capacity in Baton Rouge.

Blake Baker, who helped Missouri to an 11-win season and a Top 10 national ranking in 2023, has been named LSU’s defensive coordinator, head coach Brian Kelly announced on Friday.

Baker joins the LSU staff after serving as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Missouri for the past two seasons. Baker coached the linebackers at LSU in 2021. Prior to that, he served as the defensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.) in 2019-20 and at Louisiana Tech from 2015-18. He brings eight years of defensive coordinator experience to the LSU program.

Yahoo reported that Baker will have a three-year contract and be the nation’s highest paid assistant coach at a reported annual salary of $2.5 million. His new deal at Missouri called for $2 million a year.

“Blake brings a wealth of experience and success as a defensive coordinator throughout his career, including the last two years in the SEC at Missouri,” Kelly said. “His ability to develop and motivate his players while putting together highly successful defenses sets him apart in his field. I am excited to welcome Blake and his family back to Baton Rouge.”

Baker’s hiring is contingent on a satisfactory background check and approval from the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Baker’s 2023 Missouri defense played a huge role in the Tigers going 11-2 overall and capping the season with a 14-3 win over No. 7 Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. Missouri’s 11 wins were the most for the school in nearly a decade. In the win over Ohio State, Missouri held the Buckeyes without a touchdown for the first time since the 2016 season.

As a unit in 2023, Missouri ranked No. 4 in the SEC in scoring defense (20.8 points per game) and No. 5 in the league in both rushing defense (122.8) and total defense (336.1). Missouri led the SEC and ranked No. 4 nationally in fumbles forced (17) and they were No. 11 in the nation in sacks with 39. The Tigers were also among the Top 20 in the nation in fumbles recovered (No. 16 with 10) and tackles for loss (No. 18 with 88).

Missouri’s 2023 defense featured three players who earned All-SEC honors – defensive end Darius Robinson, linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper and defensive back Kris Abrams-Draine.

In his previous season at LSU in 2021, Baker’s top linebacker was All-America Damone Clark, who went on to become a fifth round NFL Draft pick and is currently a starter for the Dallas Cowboys. Clark had a breakout season under Baker in 2021, ranking No. 2 in the nation in tackles with 135 tackles to go along with 5.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Clark was a finalist for the Butkus Award that year.

Baker joined Miami in 2019 after four years as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Louisiana Tech. In his first year with the Hurricanes in 2019, he oversaw a Miami defense that ranked No. 13 nationally in total defense and 12th in the nation in yards allowed per play. The 2019 Hurricane defense also ranked among the Top 20 in the nation in rush defense (No. 10), redzone defense (No. 16) and pass defense (No. 18).

Two linebackers – Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman – from Baker’s 2019 defense earned All-ACC recognition. Quarterman was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. His 2020 defense featured first team All-America defensive end Jaelan Phillips.

Prior to arriving in Coral Gables, Baker spent four seasons (2015-18) as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Louisiana Tech where the Bulldogs had one of the nation’s top defenses when it came to impact plays. In 2018, Louisiana Tech ranked No. 4 in the nation in sacks per game, No. 12 in tackles for loss and No. 33 in turnovers gained.

Baker’s star defender at Louisiana Tech was All-America Jaylon Ferguson, who led the nation in sacks (17.5) and ranked No. 2 nationally in tackles for loss with 26.5 in 2018. Ferguson was a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

As a unit, Louisiana Tech led Conference USA in rush defense in 2015 and finished second in the league in total defense that year. The Bulldogs were third in C-USA in rush defense in 2016.

Prior to being elevated to defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech, Baker coached the safeties for the Bulldogs in 2014. He spent the 2013 season as the safeties coach at Arkansas State.

Baker got his start in collegiate coaching at Texas, where he was a graduate assistant for the Longhorns from 2010-12. At Texas, Baker worked with the linebackers and defensive backs, two position groups that featured eight All-Big 12 selections over that span. He also coached All-America linebacker and Lott Trophy finalist Emmanuel Acho and 2011 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Quandre Diggs.

Prior to joining the Texas staff, Baker worked as wide receivers coach in 2019 at Clear Springs High School in Houston, Texas, before taking over duties as linebackers coach the following spring.

The Houston native was a four-year letterman and three-year starter at linebacker for Tulane from 2000-04. In 42 career games, he racked up 145 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six sacks. He helped lead the Green Wave to a win in the 2002 Hawaii Bowl. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Tulane in 2008.

Baker is married to the former Roslyn Jones of Mandeville and the couple has a daughter, Anderson, and two sons, Byron and Brady. His wife is a former All-SEC soccer player for LSU.

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Tiger Rag News Services

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