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Pitt

Wofford introduces Pitt's Josh Conklin as new head coach

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, 12:45 p.m.
Pitt defensive coordinator Josh Conklin during the first day of spring practice Thursday, March 16, 2017 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt defensive coordinator Josh Conklin during the first day of spring practice Thursday, March 16, 2017 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Josh Conklin has been a linebacker, academic All-American and defensive coordinator.

Now, he is a first-time head coach at Wofford, one of the strongest programs in the FCS. As an added bonus, the school in Spartanburg, S.C., means a lot to his family.

No wonder Wofford director of athletics Richard Johnson called Conklin, Pitt's defensive coordinator since 2015, “the complete package.”

Conklin, 38, is not coming home — he was born in Gillette, Wyo. — but he was at Wofford from 2007-09 as a defensive backs and special teams coach.

Plus, his brother-in-law, Al Clark III, and father-in-law, Al Clark Jr., were four-year Wofford lettermen in 2002 and 1976, respectively.

“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,” Johnson said in a statement.

“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.”

Ayers retired last month after 30 seasons at the school, leading Wofford to its second consecutive 10-3 record and its seventh Southern Conference championship since 2003.

“Our family is very excited to be at Wofford College,” Conklin said. “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.”

In Conklin's first Wofford tenure, he helped direct a defense that intercepted 33 passes in two seasons.

Conklin, a graduate of Dakota (S.D.) State, has been at Pitt for the past three years, hired in 2015 as Pat Narduzzi's first defensive coordinator.

A year later, Pitt ranked sixth nationally in sacks, averaging 3.31 per contest. Pitt's rush defense was 16th in the nation that year, allowing an average of 119.6 yards per game. Overall, Pitt recorded 111 sacks over the 2015, '16 and '17 seasons.

Conklin joined Pitt after building an impressive resume as Florida International's defensive coordinator for two years (2013-14). In his final season, he was nominated for the prestigious Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant.

In 2014, Conklin's FIU defense ranked first nationally in fumble recoveries (19), second in defensive touchdowns (six) and fourth in turnovers gained (33).

He also was defensive coordinator at The Citadel from 2010-11.

“What an excellent hire for Wofford,” said Wake Forest assistant head coach Kevin Higgins, who was The Citadel's coach when Conklin was there. “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.”

Narduzzi gave Conklin his blessings.

“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,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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