As Devils Digest was first to report yesterday on its Devils’ Huddle premium message board, defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales will replace Phil Bennett as ASU’s new defensive coordinator.
2017 was Gonzales' first year as the Aztecs' defensive coordinator and it was a stellar campaign as he led his unit to an 11th total defense national ranking at 303.5 yards yielded per game, as well as being ranked 14th in scoring defense at 18.4-point average.
SDSU also ranked 9th in rushing defense at 110.4 yards per game and 27th in passing yards allowed at 193.10. Gonzales' hire will naturally help ASU's recruiting efforts in Southern California.
Gonzales will replace defensive coordinator Phil Bennett who only joined the Sun Devil staff in 2017, but had to resign his post due to family and medical reasons and move back to his native state of Texas. Bennett will coach through the Sun Bowl.
Gonzales is set to coach the Aztecs through their Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Saturday versus Army and be officially introduced as ASU’s defensive coordinator over the weekend.
ASU head coach Herm Edwards had also hired Western Illinois head coach Charlie Fisher as wide receivers coach and Long Beach Poly High School head coach and former NFL player and Super Bowl champion Antonio Pierce as linebackers’ coach. Those hires are expected to be officially announced over the next 24-48 hours.
Earlier in the week Edwards also promoted two assistant coaches, Rob Likens was promoted from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator, and Dave Christensen, the team’s non-coaching consultant this past season, was hired as offensive line coach
Gonzales, 40, served as San Diego State’s safeties coach for the past six seasons and played for current SDSU head coach Rocky Long a punter and a safety as a player at New Mexico from 1994-98. Gonzales was the school's video coordinator from 2003-05 and started his coaching career as a defensive graduate assistant for the Lobos from 1999-2002. From 2005-08, worked with the safeties, punters, kickers and deep snappers at UNM.
ASU’s new defensive coordinator will inherit a 2018 unit that can lose up to seven players, as linebacker Christian Sam and defensive lineman JoJo Wicker are expected to enter the NFL draft, while defensive lineman Tashon Smallwood, linebackers DJ Calhoun and AJ Latu, and defensive backs J’Marcus Rhodes and Chad Adams are all outgoing seniors who have exhausted their eligibility.
As we were first to report yesterday on our Devils’ Huddle premium message board about the Gonzales hire, we also detailed that Gonzales is poised to bring with him at least one assistant over from his San Diego State staff.
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