Northern Illinois has hired well-traveled coach Derrick Jackson as its new defensive coordinator.
Jackson, who also will serve as associate head coach and safeties coach, most recently served as the cornerbacks coach for Purdue for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Jackson previously made a stop in DeKalb as a defensive line coach in 2005.
“We were lucky to have an opportunity to get Derrick,” NIU coach Thomas Hammock said in an NIU news release. “He’s one of the best coaches I know. He has coached every level of defense – the D-line, the linebackers and DBs, so he has a thorough knowledge of how everything works together. He is highly intelligent, very articulate and can break defense down in a simple form for the players to understand. I have great respect for him as a person, as a coach, as a recruiter and as a leader.”
Jackson has a vast background of coaching stops. Before serving as the defensive backs coach for the Boilermakers, he held three different positions at Wake Forest (cornerbacks coach, defensive backs coach and outside linebackers coach), from 2012 to ‘16; coached defensive line at Rice in 2011 and Akron in 2010; defensive line at Syracuse, 2007 to ‘09; Michigan State as defensive line coach, 2006; NIU in 2005; defensive line coach at EIU in 2003 and ‘04; defensive ends at Army in 2001 to ‘02; in the NFL with the Tampa Buccaneers, 2002; and Miam Dolphins, 2001; as well as coaching tight ends at West Georgia in 1999.
“I have such fond memories of the one year I did spend here,” Jackson said of DeKalb in the news release. “It was my first FBS coaching opportunity, my wife and I were engaged while here, and it really was the start of my career coaching at this level. Having been a part of the NIU team that played in the MAC championship game in 2005, that unfortunately didn’t get it done, kind of motivated me to come back and be a part of taking care of that unfinished business.”
Last season, Purdue’s defense was ranked 113th out of 129 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in defensive yards allowed (452.6), 83rd in passing efficiency defense (137.16), 127th in passing yards allowed a game (284.7) and intercepted 11 passes.
NIU’s defensive coordinator in 2018, Jeff Knowles, made a base salary of $146,915. By comparison, Jackson made $320,000 last season. Knowles joined Temple football Jan. 13 to be the new defensive coordinator under former NIU head coach Rod Carey.