STARKVILLE (HailState.com) – Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen has announced the hiring of assistant coaches Peter Sirmon and Terrell Buckley, while promoting longtime defensive line coach David Turner to assistant head coach.
· Sirmon, the former associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach at Southern Cal, will serve as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
· Buckley, a 14-year NFL veteran, Super Bowl champion and former assistant coach at Louisville, will coach secondary and serve as recruiting coordinator.
· Turner, who enters his seventh season with the Bulldogs, will continue to be in charge of the defensive line while serving his new role of assistant head coach.
“We are excited about the dynamic additions to our staff and are grateful for what David has helped us accomplish,” Mullen said. “They are tremendous recruiters, teachers and leaders who will continue to raise the level of expectations of our program. They will develop our players both on and off the field, preparing them for life and do it in a way our Bulldog fans can be proud of.”
MSU will hire an assistant coach following the departure of Deshea Townsend to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
“We thank Deshea for his three years of service at Mississippi State and wish him all the best as he pursues his dream of coaching in the NFL,” Mullen said. “We have begun a search for an assistant coach who is the right fit for our program.”
Sirmon and Buckley have a combined 21 years of NFL playing experience, 12 playoff appearances and one Super Bowl ring.
Sirmon joined USC’s staff in December 2013 and spent two seasons as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. A seven-year NFL linebacker with the Tennessee Titans (2000-06), he was the Trojans’ interim defensive coordinator during the 2015 Holiday Bowl.
“Peter is one of the bright young defensive minds in all of college football,” Mullen said. “He will relate to our players well, and he has outstanding knowledge of the game with his experience as a college coach and former NFL linebacker. His recruiting prowess is evident by the talent he brought in and developed at his previous coaching jobs. He’s a great fit to lead our defense.”
“This is a great opportunity to join Coach Mullen’s staff and build a championship defense at Mississippi State,” Sirmon said. “It’s been exciting so far on the recruiting trail. We want to continue to build relationships and bring elite talent to Starkville. We have an exceptional core of experienced players coming back, and I am thrilled to get to know each of them.”
Buckley, a Pascagoula, Mississippi, native returns to the state that launched his illustrious career. He was one of the most dynamic players in Mississippi history, guiding Pascagoula High School to a 1987 football state championship and undefeated season. He was inducted into the Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame in June 2015.
“It’s time to bring Terrell back to his home state of Mississippi,” Mullen said. “Terrell is very passionate about this state from his childhood in Gautier and Pascagoula to recruiting as an assistant coach the past several years. He understands what it means to be a Mississippian. He brings an impressive resume to Mississippi State – both as a coach and as a former NFL and All-American cornerback.”
“It’s special to be back in Mississippi and be a Mississippi State Bulldog,” Buckley said. “The opportunity to come back and work at a place where you were born and raised doesn’t come true for a lot of folks. I am blessed that it has for me. I’m excited to get to work with Coach Mullen, our staff and our players here.”
Buckley spent the past two seasons coaching cornerbacks at Louisville and helping the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl appearances, including a Music City Bowl victory over Texas A&M in December. In both of his seasons, Louisville was tops in the Atlantic Coast Conference in interceptions and turnovers gained.
Buckley’s two starting cornerbacks – Trumaine Johnson and Shaq Wiggins -- earned honorable mention All-ACC honors as sophomores this season. Despite a young secondary in 2015, Louisville ranked 14th nationally in interceptions with 14. The Cardinals also led the league in turnovers gained (26, 20th nationally) and were second in the ACC in passes defended (66, 30th nationally).
Sirmon’s leadership in his two seasons as recruiting coordinator in Los Angeles helped the Trojans haul in the nation’s top signing class in 2015 according to Scout.com and the No. 10 signing class in 2014. USC inked 12 top-100 recruits in the winter of 2015.
In 2015, Sirmon’s guidance propelled outside linebacker Su’a Cravens to All-Pac-12 first-team honors. Inside linebacker Cameron Smith was selected as the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in addition to being named a freshman All-American by USA Today. Smith was second nationally in interceptions by freshmen linebackers with three – all of which came in a 42-24 rout of No. 3 Utah on Oct. 25.
Turner continues to produce elite NFL defensive linemen in Starkville. In his six previous seasons, he has coached the likes of Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox, Chicago’s Pernell McPhee, Carolina’s Kyle Love, Washington’s Preston Smith, Green Bay’s Josh Boyd and 2016 draft prospect Chris Jones.
Cox is a back-to-back NFL All-Pro selection and will make his first Pro Bowl appearance later this month. Smith’s nine sacks led all NFL rookies and ranked second among rookies in Redskins history. McPhee was selected as the Bears’ most valuable defensive player after signing a five-year contract last spring.
In 2015, Turner developed junior defensive end A.J. Jefferson into one of the top pass rushers in the SEC. Jefferson ranked among the league’s top 10 in tackles for loss (13.5). The squad shattered the school record for tackles for loss with 98, which ranked No. 13 nationally.
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