Mike Ekeler, linebackers coach at Southern Cal in 2013, has been named Inside Linebackers Coach at the University of Georgia according to an announcement Thursday by UGA head coach Mark Richt.
Ekeler had previously served as linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator at Indiana (2011-12). A native of David City, Neb., he had served as linebackers coach at Nebraska for three seasons (2008-10) under head coach Bo Pelini. During his three years in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers won or shared the Big 12 Conference North Division title all three seasons.
"I was extremely impressed with his knowledge and energy during the interview process," Richt said. "He was highly recommended by many coaches and administrators with whom I talked and we're very excited that he'll be joining our staff."
The move completes the Georgia defensive staff which includes Jeremy Pruitt (Defensive Coordinator/Secondary), Kevin Sherrer (Sam Linebacker and the Star position or nickel back), and Tracy Rocker (Defensive Line and Will Linebacker). Special Teams responsibilities among the staff are still to be determined according to Richt.
"I'm honored to represent the University of Georgia and Coach Richt," Ekeler said. "I'm looking forward to supporting Coach Pruitt and our entire coaching staff in every way I can. Our family can't wait to move to Athens and get started."
As Nebraska's linebackers coach, he was involved with some of the nation's most successful defenses. In 2010, Nebraska was third nationally in pass efficiency defense, fifth in pass defense, ninth in scoring defense and 11th in total defense. In 2009, the Cornhuskers led the country in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense, and were seventh in total defense and ninth in rushing defense.
He coached NFL draft picks Lavonte David (2nd round, Tampa Bay), a 2010 and 2011 All-American first teamer when he set the school season tackles record (152); Phillip Dillard (4th Giants); and Cody Glenn (5th free agent signees Eric Martin (Browns) and Will Compton (Redskins) who are currently on NFL rosters.
Ekeler had worked as a graduate assistant at LSU (2005-07) when Pelini was defensive coordinator and also at Oklahoma (2003-04) when Pelini was co-defensive coordinator with the Sooners. Oklahoma played for the BCS title in both of Ekeler's seasons at Oklahoma posting a two-year record of 24-3. While at LSU, the Tigers led the SEC in six defensive categories and ranked nationally in four in 2006. The 2007 LSU team finished 12-2 and won the BCS National Championship marking the third time in five years that Ekeler had been part of a team playing for the BCS title.
Ekeler graduated from Blair High School in Blair, Neb., where he played both wide receiver and linebacker winning the state championship his junior year. He played linebacker for Bill Snyder at Kansas State from 1991-94 and was named team captain in 1994. He was the only player appointed captain by Snyder during the coach's initial seventeen-year head coaching career at Kansas State.
Ekeler earned his Bachelor's degree in social sciences from Kansas State in 1995. He entered private business where he spent seven years before returning to the game as a volunteer coach at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Neb., from 1999-2001, and as assistant coach at Manhattan High School, Manhattan, Kan., in 2002.
He and his wife, Barbie, have a son, J.J., 12, and daughters Cameryn, 11, Abigail, 9, and Bella, 5.