One of Mark Stoops’ top assistants is a candidate for a similar role on the Michigan coaching staff. Jim Harbaugh is looking for a new co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach after Maurice Linguist accepted the head coaching position at Buffalo. According to one report from The Athletic, Steve Clinkscale is Harbaugh’s top choice.
Recently elevated to defensive passing game coordinator, Clinkscale is set to earn $500,000 annually through the summer of 2022. Linguist was in Ann Arbor for only a few months, but was signed on to earn $680,000 this year. Even though Harbaugh is perpetually sitting on a hot seat, Coach Clink could see a significant raise if he decides to move north.
Clinkscale is not the first Stoops assistant considered a coaching candidate elsewhere. Unlike his peers, negotiation news has been eerily quiet around the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. An integral part of Stoops’ staff since 2016, he’s earned the right to receive a raise that matches Michigan’s counteroffer.
An Elite Recruiter
Steve Clinkscale has been Kentucky’s best recruiter not named Vince Marrow. If not for the Big Dog, we could easily consider him one of the best to ever do it in Lexington.
With Clinkscale leading the way, Kentucky established a talented pipeline in the state of Michigan. In 2018 he successfully recruited the Great Lakes State’s most talented player, Marquan McCall, then followed it up a year later by bringing in Justin Rogers, the highest-ranked UK signee in the internet era. Clinkscale was the lead recruiter for three starters on this year’s team — LB DeAndre Square, S Yusuf Corker and OT Jeremy Flax. Outside of Kentucky and Ohio, no state has produced more Wildcats in recent years than Michigan.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Coach Clink gets more credit on the recruiting trail than what he does on the football field. That happens when the head coach rose is a secondary specialist. Stoops is not the only one responsible for the defensive backs’ recent success.
In the last three years four UK defensive backs have been selected in the NFL Draft. Excluding Super Bowl Champion Mike Edwards, Clinkscale played a significant role in recruiting all of them. He’s also helped develop UK’ s defensive backs into the SEC’s best.
Kentucky’s pass defense has finished first in the SEC over the last two seasons. In 2020 the Wildcats were also tops in interceptions with 16. The three biggest wins of the season — Tennessee, Mississippi State and the Gator Bowl vs. N.C. State — were on the backs of the UK pass defense, combining for 12 takeaways through the air and three defensive touchdowns. Under Clinkscale’s tutelage, the secondary has become the strength of UK’s defense.
Mic’d up: @coachclink
A behind-the-scenes look at spring practice with our defensive passing game coordinator/DBs coach pic.twitter.com/Hn2eJxbUA0
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) March 27, 2021
UK currently has six four-star commitments in the 2022 recruiting class. Three of them were recruited by Clinkscale, Michigan athlete Jeremiah Caldwell and the Wade twins. Losing Clinkscale would certainly stall the Cats’ coveted momentum on the recruiting trail and potentially fracture the Top 10 class.
Additionally, mid-May is a bad time to look for a new football coach. The coaching carousel slowed to a crawl in February. Finding a suitable replacement to help prepare two new starting cornerbacks for the SEC who’s also a savvy recruiter will be more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. Stoops and the UK administration need to do what they can to keep Coach Clink in Lexington.