New DL coach Peoples ready to mesh with Hoosiers

Making an 11th stop in his 27-year college coaching career, new Indiana defensive line coach Kevin Peoples knows some adjustments will have to be made.

Most recently situated in the southern states of Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana, he doesn’t have much of a background in the midwest. Fresh off a four-season stint at Tulane, Peoples is learning the names of Indiana towns, the names of local coaches and players.

As a product of his previous stops, Peoples is also accustomed to a certain style of coaching.

“I’m an intense teacher,” Peoples said Wednesday. “One thing I’m going to have to (do), where I grew up and the last few places I’ve been at, I’m going to have to watch my language out there in practice. That’s something I’m going to have to work on.

“Absolutely, intense. And I need to watch my language.”

The family-focused program of IU coach Tom Allen, where the assistants’ kids are often on the sidelines at practice, just to watch, offers a bit of a change. But as one of three new assistant coaches added to the staff this offseason — with a new strength and conditioning coach still to be found — the IU football family has experienced a few changes of its own. Peoples is the newest face.

He’s been in Bloomington for just over a week. There are just days, not weeks, until spring practices get underway. And it was of the utmost importance for Peoples to start gelling with his unit, a young group with enormous potential.

It’s a group he’s going to be sharing his intensity with, just without the swear words.

“No matter what business you’re in, it starts with relationships and we have a great mentor in Coach Allen, and that’s something he values,” Peoples said. “He’s hired people that have the same values as him. So developing those relationships, that’s where it all starts. We are going to go out to dinner as a defensive line (Thursday) night, spend time together.

“But there’s no shortcuts to that. It just takes time and work.”

Similar to the position rooms inherited by new tight ends coach Kevin Wright and safeties coach Jason Jones, Peoples finds himself with a lot of young talent.

At defensive end, there is rising senior Michael Ziemba and juniors James Head Jr. and Lance Bryant, but behind them is a redshirted freshman, Beau Robbins, who was a touted recruit. At defensive tackle, rising senior Jerome Johnson provides a steady anchor, but rising junior Demarcus Elliott, sophomore Sio Nofoagatoto’a, and even redshirted freshman C.J. Person, have enormous potential. A midyear enrollee, freshman Damarjhe Lewis, has turned heads.

In the interview process and leading into spring practices, Peoples has been able to watch cutups of the Hoosiers front line. He knows that former IU defensive line coach Mark Hagen, now at Texas, has left him a lot to work with. Peoples’ job is to keep them all on the right track developmentally.

“They’ve played very, very hard here and they’ve had success here, and hopefully we can build on that success,” Peoples said. “Until I get a chance to really work with these guys and see what they do well and what they can do better and what I can help them with, that’s the wait and see. But, again, I can’t tell you how excited I am to work with the guys and the eagerness that these guys have.

“I think that’s a little bit different. A lot of times I’ve come into jobs and maybe kids were beaten down a little bit because you took that job and someone was not successful prior. To be able to come into a program where it’s building success, and after the success they had last year, it’s exciting for me.”

While the Hoosiers are coming off of an 8-5 season and a Gator Bowl appearance, Peoples has had his own successes. At Tulane, the defensive line produced just 11 sacks in 2017. The next year, the Green Wave’s front came away with 25.5 sacks. The defense’s 41 total sacks ranked third all-time in program history.

At Arkansas State — where Peoples spent eight years alongside current IU offensive line coach Darren Hiller — there were future NFLers in d-linemen Alex Carrington, Corey Williams, Jon Bradley, and Bryan Hall. There were also future pros on his lines at Arkansas and Tulane.

“We’ve coached several NFL defensive linemen and we were not at schools that recruited four- or five-star kids,” Peoples said. “What we look for is someone who has great ceiling and great upside, and we want to build — it sounds obvious — but we want to be able to stop the run on early downs and then get after the quarterback. And the more three-down guys we can find, they can play first, second and third down, would be ideal.

“But if we have to get some guys that are pass-rushers, and guys we can use in situational defense, that’s what we’ll do, as well.”

Peoples comes to IU’s staff with a recruiting background in Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia, to name a few. When he reviewed his many connections, Peoples quipped, “It’s called getting old.”

The midwest is somewhat new, generally speaking, but he’s working to get up-to-speed with the lands surrounding Bloomington. He admitted it’s not easy finding athletes that are 6-foot-3 or taller, 270 pounds or more, with the athletic burst to rush a quarterback. But that’s what he needs.

“Have not recruited much in this state, but after watching a lot of film, I’m very exited about the talent we do have in this state, especially at the defensive line position,” Peoples said. “Recruiting is about building relationships. If you haven’t established relationships, you gotta get to work and establish those relationships.”


  1. The more I read about coach Peoples and see video of him coaching the better I feel about this hire. I think IU got a guy this very focused on little details on the field and does a very good job of evaluating talent to fit his needs on the DL.

    For those that have seen a resemblance to coach Wilson, I have to say I see that he is a very close to resemblance to coach.

    1. V13,
      I honestly think that Peoples will be an upgrade, coaching wise, over his predecessor. From a recruiting standpoint, I am not sure. In the short run, I think it will depend on how many kids he can convince from the south to come north to Indiana. His problem in Indiana is there are just not that many kids meeting the specifications he is looking for, and those kids are being pursued by the traditional B1G powers. That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to build those relationships in time, but I think he is going to have to prove his worth to them with his product on the field over the course of a few years.

      1. I agree. I’m happy getting him but we’re going to miss Hagen for a year or 2.

      2. Coach Peoples has the experience and connections in the South to bring in the players IU needs on the DL. There just aren’t that many D1 DL men in Indiana and the ones that are usually go to one of the powers in the country. If coach is good enough recruiter to start bring those players to IU then he is a great recruiter. He has the reputation of bringing in DL men that are under the radar but develop into NFL players; I will love it if he can do that at IU. I hope he can continue to develop players to become good enough for the NFL after they leave the football team.

    2. Thanks to Mark, he’ll have a great foundation of players with which to work. MH was a very good coach and recruiter for us. I know they hated to lose him.

  2. For what it is worth, Meatchickens offense will be an unstoppable JUGGERNAUT in the upcoming season. They’ve just hired the absolute #1 OC on earth as an offensive assistant. The incomparable Mr. Mike DeBord.

    1. Mike was hired as an analyst, not an on field coach. He’s an excellent football guy.

        1. No, he’s not an offensive assistant. That’s not how this works. He’s an analyst and not one of the assistant coaches permitted to work with players on the field and not permitted to recruit in any way. There is a real distinction and it’s defined by the NCAA.

    2. Teams can have an unrestricted number of analysts. The big programs have quite a few. I heard Alabama has 25+ analysts. They review recruiting videos, opponent game films to help in the breakdown of tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, etc.. When you have huge football budget you hire analysts to assist the 10 coaches teams are limited in hiring. It can be a pretty sweet deal for someone like DeBord who wants to stay close to the game and provide their knowledge without having to deal with all the extracurricular activities involved in coaching. You don’t have to recruit, or spend a great deal away from home.

  3. DeBord was hired by Michigan to be an Analyst. But what do the people at Michigan know about Football or hiring good FB coaches, right? I mean DeBord was only Michigan’s OC the last time they won the National Championship.

      1. You’re hardly an authority on Mike or his coaching capabilities. That you continue to misstate his new position at UM suggests you’re not interested in being better informed about him, either.

        1. It pains me to feed your neuroses. I rarely back up especially when the size between what you said compared to what I said is smaller than a tick turd. But you march on as much as your little heart desires. It doesn’t cost me a cent.

          1. I was just being accurate and couldn’t understand why you were choosing to be inaccurate.

  4. Football is an entirely different experience now vs the time when Michigan won. DeBoring never evolved as the sport was revolutionizing.

  5. I see Michael Irvin’s son is in the transfer portal and would be eligible right away. He was Miami’s best WR and leaving.

  6. FS,
    I’m not sure if he was that bad a receiver or that they were trying to make a TE out of him.

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