The University of Connecticut football program announced Saturday morning Billy Crocker was hired to become the Huskies' new defensive coordinator. He filled the same role at Villanova for the past five seasons.
UConn Football confirmed the staff addition on its official Twitter feed. Aman Kidwai of Storrs Central passed along the contract information and a statement from head coach Randy Edsall:
Crocker is coming off a banner year guiding the Villanova defense. The Wildcats led the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in both total defense (259.8 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (15.0 points allowed per game) en route to a 9-4 record and a playoff appearance.
The former United States Coast Guard Academy defensive back and baseball player spent a total of 12 years at Villanova in various defensive capacities. He also spent two seasons on the Albany staff, where he worked with the running backs.
In a 2015 interview with Mike DiMauro of The Day, Crocker credited Coast Guard coaches Chuck Mills and Bob Estock for putting him on the path to success:
They're the ones who showed me this could be a career. It always struck me how serious they were. They opened my eyes to the profession. This isn't some side job. I mean, I had no intention of going to Coast Guard. But the people around me saw the bigger picture of a great opportunity at a great academic place.
His experience recruiting in the Northeast will be another key benefit for UConn. His official Villanova bio noted he specialized in the areas of Central and Southern New Jersey for the Wildcats. That's also prime real estate for the Huskies.
All told, Crocker represents a high-upside hire for Connecticut. While being the team's defensive coordinator is the most marquee coaching role he's held to date, his success at Villanova proved he was ready to make the jump to an FBS program.
He'll be tasked with helping bolster a Huskies group that ranked 65th in both total defense and scoring defense during the 2016 campaign. UConn also finished 110th out of 128 FBS teams in sacks per game.