Kentucky football co-defensive coordinator Jon Sumrall hired as Troy head coach

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  • Mark Stoops
    American football player and coach
  • Brent Jones
    American football player

LEXINGTON — For the second time in his Kentucky football tenure, Mark Stoops is losing an assistant coach to the Troy head coach job.

UK co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Jon Sumrall was named Troy's new head coach late Thursday. Sumrall will follow the same path as former UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who worked on Stoops' UK staff for two years before going to Troy as head coach.

"Jon Sumrall exceeded all the criteria we had when searching for a new leader for our football program," Troy athletic director Brent Jones said in a news release. "He is a proven winner and a dynamic recruiter that will continue to build upon our championship legacy. In Jon, we have a leader who is energetic, intense and brings a level of passion that is unmatched. He fully understands our championship expectations and has a comprehensive plan to take Troy Football to the top of the Sun Belt Conference and the Group of Five."

More on Jon Sumrall: A career-ending injury helped pave path for return to Kentucky as a coach

A Huntsville, Alabama, native, Sumrall played for Kentucky for four years before an injury ended his career a season early. He immediately started his career as a graduate assistant coach for Kentucky then made stops at San Diego and Tulane before Brown hired him for his inaugural Troy staff in 2015.

Sumrall spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Troy before leaving for the inside linebackers job at Ole Miss in 2018. He returned to his alma mater in 2019 and was promoted to co-defensive coordinator last spring.

At Kentucky, Sumrall has been one of the Wildcats' most prolific recruiters, landing multiple four-star prospects from the deep south, including freshman linebacker Trevin Wallace, sophomore nose guard Josaih Hayes and Ole Miss linebacker transfer Jacquez Jones.

"I call him a father figure if I wanted to," Wallace said of Sumrall before the season. "We got so close. It’s great getting close to a coach like that.

"...What makes him a good recruiter is he will never let up off the glass. He’s always full throttle, full throttle. Plus, he was a coach that got my parents. He wouldn’t even talk about football all the time. He would ask how life was going or how your family was doing."

Under Sumrall's leadership, Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis developed from a lightly recruited three-star prospect into a 2021 NFL draft first-round pick.

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Kentucky's inside linebacker depth was left in dire straits when Davis left college a year early for the draft. Linebacker Chris Oats had been confined to a wheelchair after a stroke, and projected Davis replacement D'Eryk Jackson was sidelined by an Achilles' tendon injury late in spring practice.

Sumrall then called on his experience at Ole Miss to land Jones, whom he had coached as a freshman, as a transfer. With Wallace and fellow freshman Martez Thrower, another Sumrall recruit, earning more snaps as the season progressed and Jones and senior weakside linebacker starter DeAndre Square considering returning to use their extra year of eligibility, inside linebacker now looks like one of the deepest positions on Kentucky's roster.

"Troy University and the Troy community left an indelible mark on our family," Sumrall said in the release. "I am humbled and extremely grateful to Dr. (Jack) Hawkins, Brent Jones and the entire selection committee for their trust in me to lead this storied football program. Ginny and I fell in love with Troy and can't wait to return home and reconnect with the tremendous fan base. Troy Football has a proud tradition of success, and I look forward to leading this program back to a championship level."

Email Jon Hale at jahale@courier-journal.com; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Jon Sumrall: Troy University hires UK football assistant as head coach

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