SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College announced on Tuesday the hiring of Josh Conklin as head football coach. Conklin, who spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh, was an assistant coach at Wofford from 2007-09, working with the secondary.
Conklin has additional experience at Florida International, Tennessee, The Citadel and South Dakota State University, serving as the defensive coordinator at Pitt, Florida International and The Citadel. He has worked with the 4-3, 4-2 and 3-4 defensive packages during his career.
Wofford will hold a press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 3, at 1 p.m. in the Harley Room to introduce Conklin to the Wofford community.
“Josh is the complete package,” said Wofford College Director of Athletics Richard Johnson. “Having worked here as an assistant under (recently retired head coach) Mike Ayers, he has the Wofford DNA we were looking for along with a great depth and breadth of external experience. For the past three seasons as a defensive coordinator in the ACC, he has matched wits with some of the best offensive minds in college football. We are thrilled to have him carry on the legacy of Mike Ayers and Wofford football.”
“Our family is very excited to be at Wofford College,” said Conklin. “I hope that we can continue the success that Mike Ayers has built. Following in his footsteps is a great honor and we are excited to be coming back to Wofford.”
“We are delighted to have the experience and background of Coach Conklin, who knows and understands what is special about Wofford football – success on the field and in the classroom,” said Wofford president Dr. Nayef Samhat. “I am pleased to welcome Josh and his family back to Wofford College.”
Conklin served as Pitt’s defensive coordinator for three seasons. Under Conklin's watch, Pitt has featured one of the most productive pass rushes in the country. The Panthers ranked sixth nationally in sacks in 2016, averaging 3.31 per contest. Pitt compiled 111 sacks the past three seasons.
In 2017, the Panthers ended the season with a 24-14 upset of undefeated and No. 2 ranked Miami. Pitt had four sacks in the game and held the Hurricanes to 45 rushing yards. Senior cornerback Avonte Maddox was recognized on the All-ACC third team, while junior linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu and junior safety Jordan Whitehead received honorable mention All-ACC honors.
Conklin’s 2016 unit also boasted lofty national rankings in rush defense (16th, 119.6 yards per game) and defensive touchdowns (eighth, four TDs). The Panthers had a 43-42 win over eventual national champion Clemson in Death Valley to highlight an 8-5 season that culminated in the trip to the Pinstripe Bowl. In his first season as defensive coordinator, Pitt posted an 8-5 record and earned a berth in the Military Bowl.
Defensive end Ejuan Price enjoyed the finest two years of his career playing in Conklin’s defense. Price racked up 24.5 sacks over the 2015-16 seasons and was twice selected first-team All-ACC. As a senior, he led the conference and ranked second in the country in tackles for loss (1.8 per game) en route to second-team All-America honors. Price was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the 2017 NFL Draft. In the secondary, safety Jordan Whitehead was an All-ACC selection each of his first two seasons and was the league’s 2015 Rookie of the Year.
Conklin joined Pitt after building an impressive resume as FIU’s defensive coordinator for two years (2013-14). In his final season, he was nominated for the prestigious Broyles Award after overseeing a unit that ranked first nationally in fumble recoveries (19), second in defensive touchdowns (six), fourth in turnovers gained (33), eighth in turnover margin (plus-11 overall; 0.92 margin per game) and 35th in total defense (363.8 yards per game).
Prior to FIU, Conklin was the safeties coach at the University of Tennessee (2012) and defensive coordinator and safeties coach at The Citadel (2010-11). While at The Citadel, Conklin coached cornerback Cortez Allen, a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2011-15.
Conklin’s defenses at The Citadel annually ranked among the best in the Southern Conference. The Bulldogs were especially stingy in scoring defense in 2011, holding their opponents under 20 points in seven of 11 contests (64 percent).
From 2007-09, Conklin coached the defensive backs at Wofford. He added special teams to his responsibilities in his final season working with the Terriers.
In Conklin’s initial two years, Wofford had 33 interceptions. The Terriers led the Southern Conference in 2007 with 20 interceptions and ranked second in 2008 with 13. Wofford advanced to the FCS playoffs in each of those seasons. In 2007, the Terriers won the second Southern Conference title in school history and led the league in scoring defense. After an historic win at Montana in the first round of the playoffs, the Terriers were defeated in the quarterfinals by Richmond. Cornerback Brian Kemp was named second-team All-Southern Conference.
The 2008 season was capped with a loss to James Madison in the first round of the playoffs to end the year at 9-3. Safety Jason Leventis and cornerback Mychael Johnson earned second-team All-Southern Conference honors as the team was second in the league in interceptions. While working with the specialists in 2009, punter Chris Tommie was named first-team All-Southern Conference with a 43.8 average.
Conklin’s coaching career was launched at South Dakota State, where he served as a graduate assistant in 2003 and 2004. He then was promoted to a full-time post with the Jackrabbits, coaching the secondary and special teams in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, SDSU finished 21st in the nation and ranked second in the conference in pass defense.
Conklin is a 2003 graduate of Dakota State University. He was a starting linebacker and Academic All-American for the Trojans. A native of Gillette, Wyoming, Conklin was born June 19, 1979.
In addition to his bachelor’s in physical education from DSU, Conklin also earned a master’s in sport administration from South Dakota State. He and his wife, Molly, have two children – son Clark and daughter Millie. His brother-in-law, Al Clark III, was a four-year letterman at Wofford and graduated in 2002, while his father-in-law, Al Clark Jr., was also a four-year football letterman at Wofford and graduated in 1976.
Conklin becomes the 23rd football coach in the history of the college, which began playing the sport in 1889.
COLLEGE COACHING EXPERIENCE
Wofford Head Coach (2018- )
Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator (2015-17)
Florida International Defensive Coordinator (2013-14)
Tennessee Safeties (2012)
The Citadel Defensive Coordinator and Safeties (2010-11)
Wofford Defensive Backs (2007-09), Special Teams (2009)
South Dakota State Defensive Backs and Special Teams (2005-06)
Graduate Assistant (2003-04)
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh head coach
“I would like to thank Josh Conklin and his wife, Molly, for their tremendous commitment and contributions to the Pitt football program the past three years. We are all thrilled that Josh has received this opportunity to be the new head coach at Wofford, a place he and his family are very familiar with given his past tenure there. Everyone at Pitt holds Josh in the highest regard as a person, teacher and coach. We know that Wofford will achieve great things under his leadership.”
Kevin Higgins, Wake Forest assistant head coach and receivers coach, former Citadel head coach
“What an excellent hire for Wofford. Josh Conklin is an outstanding football coach. He is bright, extremely organized and has a tremendous work ethic. His communication skills and football expertise will allow Wofford to continue its excellence both on and off the field.”