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NC State football makes more changes on defensive staff

NC State football head coach Dave Doeren made his second change to the defensive coaching staff this offseason. After promoting safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Tony Gibson to defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, replacing Dave Huxtable, two new defensive backs coaches have been hired.

Another new hire will be announced later to replace former defensive line coach Kevin Patrick, who took a job over the weekend at FAU and had worked the last three seasons at NCSU.

Joe DeForest will replace Gibson as safeties coach. DeForest coached safeties at West Virginia from 2013-15 when Gibson was the Mountaineers' defensive coordinator. He served the last two years as Southern Cal's outside linebackers coach.

Brian Mitchell has been hired to coach corners. Doeren announced that George Barlow, State's cornerbacks coach for six seasons, will not be retained. Mitchell coached defensive backs at Virginia Tech for the last four years, and prior to that worked at West Virginia with Gibson as corners coach from 2013-16.

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NC State has hired Joe DeForest to coach safeties.
NC State has hired Joe DeForest to coach safeties. (

Press Release From NC State

A pair of coaches who boast a combined 55 years of experience in the profession have joined the Wolfpack football staff, head coach Dave Doeren announced today.

Brian Mitchell, who spent the last four seasons at Virginia Tech, will coach the cornerbacks, while Joe DeForest, who comes to Raleigh after two seasons at USC, will coach the safeties. Both coaches previously worked with Wolfpack defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.

“Brian Mitchell is an experienced DB coach with personal ties to Coach Gibson, the ACC and the region,” said Doeren. “He has done an impressive job recruiting and developing players. Many of them have gone on to the NFL.

“Joe DeForest is an excellent teacher who also knows Tony’s system and has learned from elite coaches at other Power Five programs. He has great recruiting ties in North Carolina and Florida, along with a strong special teams background — which is crucial since all of our coaches assist Todd Goebbel with those units.

“When I asked Tony who he would want to work with, these were the first names he mentioned. I’m elated that we’re adding them both to the family.”

During his coaching career, Mitchell has coached teams that have won five conference titles and made 16 bowl appearances. Thirteen of his defensive backs have gone on to sign NFL contracts.

Mitchell, who spent the 2016-19 seasons with the Hokies as defensive backs coach, coached two All-ACC corners in 2019. He helped field a stingy 2017 defense that ranked second in the nation on third down (26.2 percent), fourth in scoring defense (14.8 ppg) and fifth in first downs allowed (290).

He quickly made an impact on Tech’s secondary in 2016, as the Hokies boasted the fifth-lowest opponent completion percentage in the nation (50.1) and ranked 10th with a 111.1 opponent passer rating.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be joining Wolfpack Nation and the strong football foundation Coach Doeren has in place,” said Mitchell. “I’m looking forward to helping in that development alongside defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.”

Prior to coming to the ACC, Mitchell was cornerbacks coach at West Virginia for three seasons (2013-15), while Gibson was defensive coordinator. In 2015, WVU’s defense led all Power Five schools by forcing 23 interceptions and ranked second with 31 total takeaways.

“Brian is a great coach and an even better person,” said Gibson. “After working with him for three years at WVU, I know what an excellent teacher he is. I am looking forward to continuing to grow this defense with him.”

In 2014, WVU’s defense ranked eighth among Power Five teams in third-down defense (31.4 percent) and No. 15 among FBS squads in terms of forcing three-and-outs. In 2013, WVU’s defense finished fourth among FBS squads with 16 fumbles recovered and 14th among Power Five squads with 28 turnovers forced.

Mitchell served as defensive coordinator and secondary coach at East Carolina for three seasons (2010-12). In 2012, East Carolina tied UCF for first place in the Eastern Division of Conference USA with a 7-1 league record.

He was also the cornerbacks coach at Texas Tech for four years (2006-09). The Red Raiders’ pass defense led the Big 12 Conference in net passing yards in both 2006 and 2007. In 2007, Texas Tech limited foes to 188.4 yards per game in that department, a figure that ranked 13th among FBS squads.

Following a three-year NFL career, Mitchell’s first collegiate coaching job was at his alma mater, BYU. He served as cornerbacks coach for the Cougars for 11 seasons (1995-05), working on the staff of legendary coach LaVell Edwards. He helped guide the team to five bowl appearances and a No. 5 national ranking following a 14-1 campaign in 1996, as well as back-to-back Western Athletic Conference championships.

While at BYU, he also served as the faculty advisor to the Black Student Union from 1995-02.

Mitchell played collegiately at BYU (1987-90), helping lead the Cougars to a bowl game in each of his four seasons. He was an All-WAC cornerback, and still holds the school record for longest interception return, a 97-yard effort against New Mexico in 1989.

His 13 career INTs stand fifth in the school’s record book, while his five picks in 1989 were a season high.

A seventh-round draft choice of the Atlanta Falcons in the 1991 NFL Draft, Mitchell went on to play in 36 games over three seasons for the Falcons (1991-93).

Originally from Waco, Texas, Mitchell and his wife, Carri, have three children: son, Brian, and daughters, Halie and Mikenzi.

DeForest comes to Raleigh after two seasons at USC, where he most recently coached the outside linebackers. Prior to his stint with the Trojans, he served as special teams coordinator at Kansas in 2016 and 2017.

“I am really excited to work for Coach Doeren and to be a part of the NC State program,” said DeForest. “Tony Gibson is a tremendous defensive coordinator and I can’t wait to work with him again. It’s also great to get back east, closer to my family.”

From 2012-15, he served in several capacities at West Virginia, working alongside Gibson for three of those campaigns. In his first year, he served as associate head coach/defensive coordinator and coached the safeties, then was the special teams coordinator and safeties coach in his final three years.

“I’m also excited about working with Joe again,” said Gibson. “His experience, his knowledge and his familiarity with our system will be a great addition to our staff.”

In 2014, Mountaineer placekicker Josh Lambert was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award and kickoff returner Mario Alford was a first-team All-American. West Virginia played in three bowl games during his tenure.

DeForest spent 11 seasons (2001-11) on the staff at Oklahoma State, serving as secondary coach from 2001 to 2004, then the associate head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach from 2005 to 2011. He coached a Lou Groza Award winner (Dan Bailey), a Ray Guy Award winner (Matt Fodge), and also three Big 12 Special Teams Players of the Year (returner Dez Bryant in 2008, placekicker Dan Bailey in 2010 and placekicker/punter Quinn Sharp in 2011). He was named a Top 25 recruiter in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

The 2011 Cowboys went 12-1, won the Big 12 title and finished No. 3 in the polls. They also played in the 2002 Houston Bowl, 2004 and 2010 Cotton Bowls, 2004 and 2010 Alamo Bowls, 2006 Independence Bowl, 2007 Insight Bowl, 2008 Holiday Bowl and 2012 Fiesta Bowl while DeForest was on staff.

No stranger to the Triangle, DeForest was on the staff at Duke from 1994-2000, working as special teams coordinator and linebackers coach for the Blue Devils for seven years (1994-2000).

DeForest started his collegiate coaching career at Rice, where he spent the 1990-91 seasons as an offensive graduate assistant working with the running backs and then the next two years as the outside linebackers coach. In 1988 and 1989, DeForest coached at his prep alma mater, Titusville (Fla.) High School.

A four-year (1983-86) starting linebacker for Southwestern Louisiana, DeForest won All-Southland Conference honors twice in football, while also pitching for the Ragin’ Cajuns’ baseball team for two seasons. As a senior, he was named Southwestern Louisiana’s top male athlete. He earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southwestern Louisiana in 1987. He played linebacker and was a long snapper in 1987 for the NFL’s Houston Oilers (preseason) and New Orleans Saints (three games), then had a brief stint with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. DeForest and his wife, Laura, have a daughter, Ashley, 25, and son-in-law, Corey Hassel.

George Barlow, who has coached the NC State cornerbacks for the past six seasons, will not return to the staff in 2020.

“I appreciate George and his contributions to Wolfpack football,” Doeren added. “We wish him great success in the future.”


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