ANN ARBOR — University of Michigan J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh announced Wednesday (Jan. 20) the hiring of Maurice Linguist and George Helow to the defensive coaching staff. Linguist will serve as defensive backs/co-defensive coordinator and Helow will coach the safeties for the Wolverines.
“Maurice and George are outstanding additions to our defensive coaching staff,” said Harbaugh. “They are highly regarded and well-respected coaches who have worked with some of the top defensive minds in college football. Their experience at some of the top programs in the country will benefit our team and student-athletes. Michigan Football welcomes Maurice, George and their families and look forward to them joining our football family and university community.”
In addition, Harbaugh announced that the program reached an agreement on a contract extension with Shaun Nua to continue as the team’s defensive line coach. Brian Jean-Mary will work with the linebackers. Those personnel moves complete the defensive coaching staff for the Wolverines under first-year defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.
Following is biographical information and comments from Linguist and Helow about joining the Michigan staff:
Maurice Linguist Comment on Michigan
“I have always had an appreciation and an admiration for Coach Harbaugh and his accomplishments at the University of Michigan. The University of Michigan is full of college football’s best traditions, and I cannot wait to get started. I look forward to leading and serving the young men in the program, developing life-long relationships, and competing at the highest of levels on the field. My family and I look forward to getting to Ann Arbor, and we are beyond excited to join the Michigan family. Go Blue!”
Maurice Linguist Biographical Information
Linguist joins the Michigan football staff as defensive backs/co-defensive coordinator after spending the 2020 football season as the defensive backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Prior to joining the Cowboys staff, Linguist was the cornerbacks coach at Texas A&M for two seasons (2018-19).
In Dallas, Linguist directed a secondary that forced 10 interceptions while allowing the fifth-fewest passing first downs in the league (180). The Cowboys were also ranked in the top half of the league in pass yards allowed (11th), completion-percentage against (10th) and takeaways (ninth). Linguist coached rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs (three interceptions) to a strong first season in the league. Three of Dallas’ four leading tacklers in 2020 were starters in the secondary, including former Wolverine Jourdan Lewis who set a career-high with 59 stops. Safety Donovan Wilson, whom Linguist coached at Texas A&M, led the Cowboys in takeaways (two interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries) and was third on the team with 71 tackles.
Linguist has worked with college secondaries at eight programs. Most recently, he coached cornerbacks at Texas A&M (2018-19), defensive backs at Minnesota (2017) and safeties at Mississippi State (2016).
At A&M, Linguist’s secondaries limited opportunities for opponents and played tight coverage in key situations. Teams converted just 31.2 percent of third down tries (102 of 326) over his two seasons and A&M ranked ninth nationally in that category in 2018. The Aggies intercepted their opponents 19 times in his two seasons and made a habit of getting off the field. During the 2018 season, the defense was top-15 nationally in first downs allowed (221) and faced the fewest snaps against among all SEC teams. The defense made a dramatic improvement in pass efficiency defense from 2018 to 2019, jumping from 106th nationally to 26th in the country.
Linguist helped the Aggies produce back-to-back top-six recruiting classes nationally in 2019 and 2020. He was the lead recruiter for five-star safety Jaylon Jones, the first five-star defensive back to sign with Texas A&M.
In his season at Minnesota, Linguist’s secondary helped anchor a defense that finished No. 11 nationally with 174.5 yards allowed per game after listing 73rd in the NCAA a year earlier. The unit surrendered 16 touchdowns, a top-25 figure nationally and also ranked among the nation’s best in first downs allowed (11th) and total defense (30th). Linguist was the lead recruiter for Rashod Bateman, the Big Ten’s Wide Receiver of the Year. Linguist was promoted to assistant head coach following the 2017 season before accepting a position at Texas A&M.
At Mississippi State, Linguist led the safeties group which was responsible for seven of the team’s 14 interceptions. Three safeties eclipsed the 50-tackle mark for the Bulldogs: Brandon Bryant (62, three PBUs), Kivon Coman (58, four PBUs), and Mark McLaurin (51, seven PBUs) were among the team’s leading tacklers. The defense scored four touchdowns (No. 8, NCAA) and totaled 14 interceptions (No. 35, NCAA) during the 2016 season.
Prior to his time in Starkville, Linguist coached defensive backs at Iowa State (2014-15) and Buffalo (2012-13), earning the title of defensive passing game coordinator in his second year at both schools. He coached players to three All-Big 12 honors in his two seasons at Iowa State, including safety Kamari Cotton-Moya, a first-team freshman All-American by the Football Writers’ Association of America (FWAA). Cotton-Moya led the team in tackles and was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year on defense. Linguist would help direct cornerback Brian Peavy to be a finalist for the award the following year.
At Buffalo, Linguist helped the Bulls finish second in the MAC East and reached the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2013. The unit ranked second in the league in interceptions (15), points per game allowed (24.4), and yards per game allowed (382.2). Linguist coached Najja Johnson to first team all-conference honors and a career total of 38 pass breakups, No. 2 in program history. Johnson led the MAC in interceptions the year earlier as part of a Bulls unit that was tops in the conference in pass completion percentage allowed while ranking second in pass defense.
Linguist spent three years at James Madison, helping the program pull in the top FCS recruiting class during the 2012 cycle while the team reached the second round of the NCAA Football Championship Series Playoffs. He helped JMU rank among the top 20 teams in FCS in scoring defense three consecutive seasons (2009-11).
Linguist’s first full-time position was at Valdosta State, working with defensive backs and special teams. The Blazers went 9-3 and earned a No. 12 national ranking in Division II.
Linguist began as a graduate assistant at Baylor, his alma mater, working as a graduate assistant with the strong safeties and rover backs. During his career at Baylor, he was a defensive MVP and honorable mention All-Big 12 selection. He made 24 starts in 42 appearances as a strong safety from 2003-06. A native of Dallas, Texas, Linguist graduated from Baylor with degrees in communications (2006) and a master’s in health, human performance and recreation (2007). He was an Academic All-Big 12 honoree.
Linguist and his wife, Stacie, have a daughter, Maura (4), and son, Lance (18 months). Stacie is a practicing attorney that is barred in five states (Texas, Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota and Washington (DC)).
George Helow Comment on Michigan
“I am incredibly excited and grateful to be joining the Michigan Football program, a school with a rich tradition and history of winning. I am looking forward to developing great players who are also upstanding citizens. This is an outstanding opportunity to work with Coach Jim Harbaugh, one of the best in the business, and the great coaching staff that he has assembled at Michigan. I can’t wait to get to work. Go Blue!”
George Helow Biographical Information
Helow (pronounced He-LOW) joins the Michigan football staff as safeties coach after spending the 2020 season as the special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach at the University of Maryland. Helow has been a member of two national championship teams and worked with some of the college football’s top defensive minds.
He spent four seasons at Colorado State University (2016-19) prior to joining the Terrapins staff. Helow coached the safeties during his final two seasons on staff, after working with the outside linebackers as a defensive quality control coach and graduate assistant during the 2016-17 seasons.
Helow oversaw a secondary that allowed just 181.6 yards per game in 2019, the seventh-best pass defense in the country and the top-ranked in the Mountain West Conference. Safeties Jamal Hicks and Logan Stewart combined for 193 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions for the Rams. Hicks earned first-team All-MWC and helped lead a pass defense that held seven opponents under 200 passing yards.
In his first season mentoring the safeties, three of Helow’s defensive backs ranked in the top five in tackles on the team in 2018. The Rams ranked fourth in pass defense in the MWC.
Helow has coached at some of the nation’s top programs during his career, with stints at Alabama, Florida State and Georgia. Helow helped the Seminoles win a national title in 2013 as a defensive graduate assistant coach. He also spent two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Georgia (2014-15) where he worked with the safeties.
In 2012, Helow broke into the college coaching ranks as a member of the Alabama staff under Nick Saban. He was an intern in the weight room during the spring and summer before working as a defensive intern for coordinator Kirby Smart during the fall. The Crimson Tide allowed just 10.9 points per game during the year and went on to win the national title against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game.
Helow played collegiately at the University of Mississippi from 2006-10. After redshirting in 2006, Helow saw his first career action against Louisiana Tech in 2007 and went on to play in all 38 games for Ole Miss during the 2008-10 seasons, including back-to-back Cotton Bowl victories in 2009 and 2010. He led the Rebels in special teams tackles during the 2010 season and was nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy, an award given annually to the nation’s most outstanding college football player who began their career as a walk-on.
Helow graduated from Ole Miss with a business degree in marketing and added a master’s degree in adult education during his time at Georgia.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Helow played at Bishop Kenny High School and later attended Hargrave Military Academy Prep School in Chatham, Virginia, before enrolling at Mississippi. Helow returned to his alma mater, Bishop Kenny, to coach with his younger brother Peter after graduating from Ole Miss.