Michigan football finalizes defensive coaching staff, announces two new hires

Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
·3 min read

Michigan football's defensive staff is complete.

The Wolverines officially announced Wednesday night they hired Maurice Linguist and George Helow as assistant coaches, and retained Shaun Nua as defensive line coach and Brian Jean-Mary as linebackers coach.

Linguist, 36, will be the defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator. Helow will coach safeties. Mike Macdonald is the new defensive coordinator.

“Maurice and George are outstanding additions to our defensive coaching staff,” said coach Jim Harbaugh in a statement. “They are highly regarded and well-respected coaches who have worked with some of the top defensive minds in college football. Their experience at some of the top programs in the country will benefit our team and student-athletes. Michigan Football welcomes Maurice, George and their families and look forward to them joining our football family and university community.”

Nua has been Michigan's defensive line coach for the past two seasons but his contract expired just over one week ago.

Jean-Mary finished his first season in Ann Arbor after signing a two-year deal last offseason that paid him $415,000 in his first season and will pay him $450,000 in the second season.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive line coach Shaun Nua celebrate after the defense holds off Iowa on fourth down in the final seconds of U-M's 10-3 win on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at Michigan Stadium.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive line coach Shaun Nua celebrate after the defense holds off Iowa on fourth down in the final seconds of U-M's 10-3 win on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at Michigan Stadium.

The Wolverines experienced an upheaval on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, beginning with the firing of defensive coordinator Don Brown. Bob Shoop, who never coached in a game with the Wolverines, is no longer on staff, as is cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich.

Michigan replaced Brown, Shoop and Zordich with Macdonald, Linguist and Helow.

Linguist, who played at Baylor from 2003-06, rose through the college ranks quickly as an assistant coach after coaching the defensive backs for the Dallas Cowboys this past season. Previously, he was the cornerbacks coach at Texas A&M, where he earned a reputation as a top recruiter by helping sign five-star prospect Jaylon Jones and five other top-100 recruits. Linguist has also coached at Minnesota (2017), where he recruited receiver Rashod Bateman, and Mississippi State (2016), in addition to stops at Iowa State (2014-15) and Buffalo (2012-13).

“I have always had an appreciation and an admiration for Coach Harbaugh and his accomplishments at the University of Michigan," Linguist said. "The University of Michigan is full of college football's best traditions, and I cannot wait to get started. I look forward to leading and serving the young men in the program, developing life-long relationships, and competing at the highest of levels on the field. My family and I look forward to getting to Ann Arbor, and we are beyond excited to join the Michigan family.”

Helow, who played at Mississippi from 2006-10, spent the 2020 season as the special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Maryland. Before that, he coached at Colorado State for four seasons (2016-19) as the safeties coach and a defensive quality control coach and graduate assistant during his first two seasons.

In 2019, Helow helped coach a secondary that finished as the seventh-best pass defense nationally, allowing 181.6 yards per game. Before joining Colorado State, Helow worked as a graduate assistant at Georgia (2014-15) and Florida State (2013) and as an intern at Alabama (2012).

“I am incredibly excited and grateful to be joining the Michigan Football program, a school with a rich tradition and history of winning," Helow said. "I am looking forward to developing great players who are also upstanding citizens. This is an outstanding opportunity to work with Coach Jim Harbaugh, one of the best in the business, and the great coaching staff that he has assembled at Michigan. I can’t wait to get to work.

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football finalizes defensive coaching staff with 2 new hires