LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells finalized his coaching staff for the 2020 season Wednesday with the hiring of Derek Jones as the program’s associate head coach, co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
Jones, who previously worked alongside Wells and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson at Tulsa in 2006, arrives in Lubbock following a 12-year stint at Duke, the final two of which were spent as the Blue Devils’ associate head coach. He has coached defensive backs throughout his entire 22-year career, which also includes stops at Memphis (2007), Middle Tennessee State (2005) and Murray State (2000-04).
“Coach Jones has long been one of the top defensive backs coaches in the country, and we couldn’t be happier for him to join our staff,” Wells said. “Our players will love playing for Coach Jones. He has a knack for getting the most out of his players and pushing them to be their best on and off the field. He is an elite recruiter who will have an immediate impact here in that area. We are excited to welcome he, his wife, Naketa, and their girls to our Red Raider Football family.”
Duke rose from among college football bottom-tier teams to one of the top programs in the country during Jones’ tenure. The Blue Devils, who had recorded only 10 wins in the previous eight seasons prior to Jones’ arrival, claimed the ACC Coastal Division title in 2013 and have reached a bowl game in six of the past eight years with Jones on their staff.
Duke set a school record with 10 wins in 2013 and followed with a nine-win campaign in 2014 and then eight wins in both 2015 and 2018 after winning the New Era Pinstripe and the Walk-On’s Independence Bowls. The Blue Devils’ victory in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2015 marked their first bowl victory since 1961.
“My family and I couldn’t be more excited to join Coach Wells and his staff,” Jones said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Wells, and can’t wait to work alongside him and Coach Patterson again as well as the rest of the great staff he has assembled at Texas Tech. Most importantly, I’m looking forward to meeting the great young men on this team and start working to win each and every day. We are extremely excited to be part of Red Raider Nation.”
Jones mentored several Blue Devils into NFL draft picks during his tenure as Ross Cockrell was selected in the fourth round in 2014, while Jamison Crowder heard his name called in the same round a year later. Duke had not previously had a defensive back chosen in the NFL Draft since 1996 prior to Cockrell’s selection.
Cockrell was a two-time selection to the All-ACC first team, a Freshman All-American in 2010 and earned honorable mention All-America accolades in 2012 as he finished with 233 tackles, 12 interceptions and 42 pass breakups over his career. He departed Duke as the school’s all-time leader in total passes defended (54) and remains in the top 10 for career interceptions alongside fellow Jones mentees Breon Borders (2013-16) and Leon Wright (2006-09).
Borders ended his Duke career ranked second all-time with 34 pass breakups and third with 46 passes defended after also picking off 12 pass attempts over his four seasons. An All-ACC honoree, Borders joined fellow Duke defensive backs Matt Daniels (2012) and Leon Wright (2010) in signing NFL free agent agreements following their collegiate careers.
Crowder, meanwhile, excelled on special teams for the Blue Devils under Jones’ watch, earning second team All-America honors by the likes of the Football Writers Association of America, Phil Steele and Sports Illustrated in 2013. He was a second team All-America choice by Lindy’s the following year as an all-purpose player.
Crowder was one of three Blue Devils to garner All-America accolades during Jones’ time as assistant special teams coordinator, a role he helped oversee for the first 10 years of his tenure. DeVon Edwards, who was also one of Jones’ top defensive backs, earned second team All-America honors in 2013 as a return specialist and followed with honorable mention accolades the following two seasons by Sports Illustrated.
Prior to joining the Duke staff, Jones helped push Memphis to a 7-6 overall record in 2007 – a five-game improvement from the previous year – and a berth in the New Orleans Bowl. One of his main pupils off that team, LaKeitharun Ford, was named the squad’s co-MVP after posting 45 tackles and two interceptions for the Tigers.
Jones was the cornerbacks coach during his one season at Tulsa in 2006 where Wells was also the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator and Patterson was in his first year as the Golden Hurricane’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Tulsa led Conference USA in pass defense and total defense that season en route to an 8-5 record and appearance in the Armed Forces Bowl. His cornerback, Nick Graham, earned All-Conference honors that season and later player with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL.
Jones joined the Tulsa staff following one season as the defensive backs coach at Middle Tennessee State and five years as the cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Murray State. Middle Tennessee State ranked 30th nationally in pass defense during Jones’ one season on staff.
Murray State produced seven All-Conference selections at cornerback during Jones’ five seasons as the Racers led the Ohio Valley Conference in pass defense in 2003 and, one year later, ranked 11th nationally in total defense and 23rd in scoring defense.
Jones received his start in coaching as a graduate assistant for football operations and recruiting at Ole Miss, his alma mater, in 1998. He then served as a defensive graduate assistant coach for the Rebels during the 1999 season.
In addition to his role as a football coach, Jones is a published author as his book, Always Play to Win, went on sale in 2017. The book is a collection of quotes designed to inspire and motivate readers to not only have a positive outlook on life but also to strive to approach every situation with a positive attitude.
A native of Woodruff, South Carolina, Jones lettered four seasons as a cornerback at Ole Miss from 1993-96. He garnered All-SEC second team honors twice and was elected a team captain as a senior before eventually playing in the prestigious Blue-Gray All-Star Classic. He also earned All-SEC accolades in track and field as a sprinter.
Jones received a degree in public administration from Ole Miss in 1996. He went on to play professional with the Toronto Argonauts and Edmonton Eskimos for the Canadian Football League and the Nashville Kats of the Arena Football League.
He and his wife, Naketa, have two daughters, Madison and Brooklyn Savannah. Jones has another daughter, Darquisha.
DEREK JONES COACHING EXPERIENCE
2020 – Texas Tech Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator (Secondary)
2018-19 – Duke Associate Head Coach (Defensive Backs)
2015-17 – Duke Assistant Coach (Cornerbacks/Assistant Special Teams Coordinator)
2008-14 – Duke Assistant Coach (Defensive Backs/Assistant Special Teams Coordinator)
2007 – Memphis Assistant Coach (Cornerbacks)
2006 – Tulsa Assistant Coach (Cornerbacks)
2005 – Middle Tennessee State Assistant Coach (Defensive Backs)
2000-04 – Murray State Assistant Coach (Cornerbacks/Recruiting Coordinator)
1999 – Ole Miss Graduate Assistant (Defense)
1998 – Ole Miss Graduate Assistant (Football Operations/Recruiting)