Gophers secondary has mixture of experience and youth as team prepares for 2017 seasosn
Head coach P.J. Fleck announced the hiring of nine assistant coaches, four staff members
Maurice Linguist was named defensive backs coach at the University of Minnesota in January 2017.
Linguist comes to Minnesota after spending one season at Mississippi State where he coached the safeties.
In 2016, he coached a quartet of talented, play-making safeties in Brandon Bryant, Kivon Coman, Mark McLaurin and Jamal Peters. Those four players combined to make seven of Mississippi State’s 14 interceptions.
Bryant was a hard-hitting safety who finished fourth on the team in tackles with 62 and also made one interception and broke up two passes. Coman was fifth on the team with 58 tackles and he also made two interceptions and broke up two passes. McLaurin finished eighth on the team with 51 tackles, while adding five pass breakups, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Peters added 18 tackles, two interceptions, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
From 2014-15, Linguist was the defensive passing game coordinator at Iowa State. In 2015, he mentored freshman cornerback Brian Peavy, who earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors and was a finalist for Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Peavy led the Cyclones in tackles with 82 – second-among Big 12 freshmen – and he was tops among conference freshmen in passes defended with 12. That figure also ranked second nationally among FBS freshmen.
In 2014, Linguist’s squad picked off 10 passes led by Sam E. Richardson’s four interceptions, which ranked 31st nationally.
Although his unit was young, Linguist tutored a pair of underclassmen to All-Big 12 recognition in 2014. Free safety Kamari Cotton-Moya was named the Big 12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year and sophomore cornerback Nigel Tribune was a second-team All-Big 12 selection by the Associated Press.
Cotton-Moya, who was a first-team freshman All-America pick by the FWAA, led the team in tackles with 77. Tribune ranked sixth nationally in pass breakups with 13.
Linguist was the defensive passing game coordinator at Buffalo from 2012-13. He was a key contributor in Buffalo’s 8-5 record, a second-place finish in the MAC East (6-2) and an appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2013. The Bulls were solid on defense, especially in the secondary as they ranked second in the MAC with 15 interceptions. Buffalo was also second in the league in scoring defense (24.4) and total defense (382.8).
One of Linguist’s star players was Najja Johnson, who earned first-team All-MAC honors at cornerback in 2013 after recording 38 career pass breakups, the second-best total in school history.
In Linguist’s first season at Buffalo (2012), his starting cornerbacks, Johnson and Cortney Lester, ranked first and second in the MAC in interceptions. Johnson had five and Lester had four. The Bulls led the MAC in opponent pass completion percentage (55.4) and ranked second in the conference in pass defense.
Prior to his stint at Buffalo, Linguist spent three years at James Madison, coaching the safeties, and helping the Dukes to an 8-4 regular season record and a second round appearance in the NCAA FCS Playoffs. In addition, The Sports Network selected the James Madison 2012 recruiting class as the best in the nation (FCS).
Linguist also served as defensive backs and special teams coach at Valdosta (Ga.) State, helping the program to a 9-3 record and a No. 12 ranking in Division II in 2008.
Linguist, a native of Mesquite, Texas, began his coaching career at his alma mater of Baylor, tutoring strong safeties and rover backs as a graduate assistant in 2007.
As a senior at Baylor, he was the team’s defensive most valuable player as a strong safety, an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection and an academic All-Big 12 honoree. He started 24 of 42 career games for the Bears from 2003-06 and was a four-year letterwinner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications (2006) and a master’s degree in health, human performance and recreation (2007) during his tenure at Baylor.
Linguist and his wife, Stacie, were married in June 2014. Stacie is a lawyer and practices at Faegre Baker Daniels Law Firm. The couple has one daughter, Maura.
LINGUIST AT A GLANCE
2017-present: Minnesota - Defensive Backs
2016: Mississippi State - Safeties
2015: Iowa State - Defensive Passing Game Coordinator
2014: Iowa State - Defensive Backs
2013: Buffalo - Defensive Passing Game Coordinator
2012: Buffalo - Defensive Backs
2009-11: James Madison - Safeties
2008: Valdosta State - Defensive Backs / Special Teams
2007: Baylor - Graduate Assistant / Safeties
Playing Experience: Baylor (safety), 2003-06
Birthday: April 1, 1984
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
High School: Mesquite High School, 2002
Alma Mater: Baylor, 2006 (communications); Baylor, 2007 (health, human performance and recreation)
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