EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon head football coach Mario Cristobal announced the addition of outside linebackers coach Cort Dennison and special teams coordinator Bobby Williams to his staff. With Dennison joining the staff, Donte Williams, who was hired in early January, will now coach cornerbacks.
“We are thrilled to add both Bobby and Cort to our staff,” Cristobal said. “Both are exceptional football coaches who will make a positive impact on our football program. Bobby brings a veteran presence, and his head coaching experience is invaluable. His special teams at Alabama were instrumental in helping win a number of games, including a successful onside kick and kickoff return for a touchdown in the 2015 national championship game.
“Cort is a rising star in the coaching industry. He is regarded as one of the top young coaches and recruiters in the country. He coached with (safeties coach) Keith Heyward at Louisville and made a significant impression. We are fortunate to have Bobby and Cort on our coaching staff, as their efforts will make our program better.”
Dennison spent the previous four seasons (2014-17) at Louisville, and he served as the Cardinals’ inside linebackers coach, co-special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 2017 after serving as the assistant secondary coach and recruiting coordinator during the 2016 season. Dennison joined Bobby Petrino’s staff in 2014 as a defensive graduate assistant (linebackers) before working as the director of on-campus recruiting in 2015.
With Dennison directing Louisville’s inside linebackers in 2017, freshman Dorian Etheridge earned ESPN Freshman All-America honors after becoming the first true freshman in school history to lead the team in tackles (83). In 2017, Dennison was named to 247Sports’ 30 Under 30 coaching list while also ranking seventh on InsidetheACC’s Top 10 Recruiters list.
A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Dennison began his on-field coaching career in 2016 as the assistant secondary coach while working with current Ducks’ safeties coach Keith Heyward. The Cardinals finished the season tied for 22nd nationally and third in the ACC with 15 interceptions, and the team ranked 14th in the nation in total defense (322.2 ypg) and 37th in pass defense (207.1 ypg).
Prior to going to Louisville, Dennison worked as a graduate assistant for Petrino at Western Kentucky (2013), where he assisted with the linebackers and contributed to the opponents’ film breakdown and game planning.
Williams comes to Oregon after 10 seasons at Alabama (2008-17), where he worked on staff with Cristobal from 2013 to 2016. Williams served as special assistant to head coach Nick Saban in 2016 and 2017 after working for eight years (2008-15) as the Crimson Tide’s tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
As special assistant to the head coach, Williams helped guide the Crimson Tide to the 2017 national championship as well as a runner-up finish in 2016. Alabama finished with a combined record of 27-2 during Williams’ tenure in that position.
The 2015 season saw tight end O.J. Howard total 602 receiving yards on 38 catches with Williams as his position coach. Howard shined in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game that season, racking up 208 yards and two touchdowns on five catches to earn Offensive MVP honors and lead the Crimson Tide to the national title win over Clemson.
Williams’ special teams unit also proved to be a huge factor in Alabama’s national championship victory, as they successfully executed an onside kick in a tie game with just 10:34 left in the game that led to a touchdown. With less than eight minutes to play, the Crimson Tide returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to extend Alabama’s lead to 38-27 and help seal the national title win.
Before joining the Crimson Tide, Williams spent three seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins (2005-06) and the Detroit Lions (2003) in addition to one season at LSU (2004).
Williams earned experience as a collegiate head coach from 2000 to 2002, as he followed Saban as the head coach at Michigan State. He led the Spartans to a victory over Florida in the 2000 Citrus Bowl after the 1999 season in his first game as the school's head coach. He also guided Michigan State to a 7-5 mark in 2001, his second full season as head coach. That season culminated with a victory over Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Football Classic, making Williams the first coach in Michigan State history to lead his team to victories in his first two bowl appearances.
Before becoming the head coach at MSU, Williams spent 10 years (1990-99) as an assistant at Michigan State under Saban. He started his career at Ball State (1983-84) before spending five seasons at Eastern Michigan (1985-89).
Story provided by UO Athletics.
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