Clayton White joins WKU football as defensive coordinator

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU head football coach Mike Sanford added the fourth member of his first WKU coaching staff on Thursday as former Hilltopper assistant coach Clayton White has been named defensive coordinator.

Clayton White is pictured while coaching at North Carolina State. He has been named the new defensive coordinator for Western Kentucky University football. (Photo courtesy of North Carolina State.)

A 15-year coaching veteran, White comes to The Hill following a four-year stint at his alma mater, NC State, where he served as co-special team coordinator and safeties coach. Under White’s direction, safety Josh Jones led the Wolfpack in tackles with 109 and interceptions with three. NC State’s defense ranked No. 24 nationally, allowing just 352.8 yards per game, and No. 8 nationally in rush defense, limiting opponents to 108.5 yards per game on the ground. It was the second consecutive season the Wolfpack defense posted a Top 30 rating nationally.

“I am very excited to bring Clayton White back to The Hill to run our defense,” Sanford said. “His experience at the highest levels of football has allowed him to cut his teeth under some of the best defensive minds in the game. We will play a sound and aggressive defensive scheme under his direction.”

“My wife, Kelly, and I are extremely excited to be back on The Hill with Coach Sanford,” White said. “It is a place that loves athletics and has great all-around support from the administration and the community. I’m on edge to get the staff going and hit it full to continue the great tradition that has been set. I cannot wait to get to Bowling Green.”

In 2015, the Pack defense ranked 29th in the FBS in total defense, 39th in rushing defense, 36th in passing yards allowed, 29th in first down defense, 42nd in interceptions, 34th in third down defense and 35th in TFL and sacks. NC State was also one of only two schools in the FBS to finish in the Top 20 in both Kickoff Return and Punt Return. NC State defensive back Dontae Johnson, a White disciple, was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.

Prior to his time in Raleigh, White spent two seasons at Connecticut (2011-12) coordinating the special teams and leading the running backs. While in Storrs, the Huskies tied for the national lead with three punt returns for touchdowns and led the Big East with a 12.5 punt return average, good for No. 18 nationally. Running back Lyle McCombs was named an FWAA Freshman All-American under White’s direction, becoming just the second Husky to rush for more than 1,000 yards in his freshman campaign.

White spent one season in Bowling Green on Willie Taggart’s first staff in 2010 with current head coach Mike Sanford and recently announced safeties coach Jami DeBerry. As White helped to build the WKU program during the FCS-to-FBS transition, he assisted in signing future WKU stars including Cam Thomas, Xavius Boyd, Bar’ee Boyd and Tyree Robinson in the signing class of 2010.

A three-year run at Stanford preceded his first stint on The Hill where he coached the Cardinal defensive backs, including future NFL Pro Bowler Richard Sherman, and future NFL players Michael Thomas, Johnson Bademosi and Delano Howell. The Cardinal rose to as high as No. 14 in the polls in 2009 and reached a bowl game for the first time since 2001 that year.

White also had stints at Western Michigan (2006) and Western Carolina (2004-05) following a three-year NFL career with the New York Giants (2001-02) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003). A three-year letterman at linebacker at NC State (1998-00), White ended his career with his name across the Wolfpack record book in several categories including career tackles for loss (33), single-season tackles for loss (16) and tackles in a single game (23).

A 2001 graduate with a degree in sport management from NC State, White and his wife Kelly have two children, Chase and Macy.


Born: Dec. 2, 1977
Hometown: Dunn, N.C. (Triton HS)
College: NC State, ‘01
Wife: Kelly
Children: Chase and Macy

College: NC State (1998-00)
Pro: New York Giants (2001-02), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003)

2003: Sanderson (N.C.) HS (Defensive Backs)
2004-05: Western Carolina (Defensive Backs/Special Teams)
2006: Western Michigan (Defensive Backs/Special Teams)
2007-09: Stanford (Defensive Backs)
2010: WKU (Co-Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Backs)
2011-12: Connecticut (Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs)
2013-16: NC State (Co-Special Teams Coordinator/Safeties)

1998: MicronPC (NC State, Player)
2000: MicronPC (NC State, Player)
2006: International (Western Michigan, Coach)
2009: Sun (Stanford, Coach)
2014: St. Petersburg (NC State, Coach)
2015: Belk (NC State, Coach)
2016: Independence (NC State, Coach)

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