Originally published December 13, 2018 at 11:46a.m., updated December 13, 2018 at 05:52p.m.
Kansas football head coach Les Miles took another step toward completing his staff Thursday by hiring Kwahn Drake as the team’s new defensive line coach.
Drake left the same position at Colorado in order to team up once again with KU’s defensive coordinator, D.J. Eliot, who worked with Drake this past year in Boulder, Colo., before Miles brought the New Orleans native to Lawrence.
"Kwahn is one of the top young defensive coaches in the country," Miles stated in a release announcing the hire. "He has built a strong relationship with the coaches and players that he has worked with in the past, and has a solid understanding of what we want to do on defense. The players he has coached have been highly productive and we are excited to have him join us here in Lawrence."
The Boulder Daily Camera reported earlier this week that new Buffaloes head coach Mel Tucker planned on retaining Drake, among other CU assistants.
However, Miles and Eliot were able to lure Drake to KU.
"Kwahn is one of the best assistant coaches I've ever been around," Eliot said. "He has an unbelievable way of getting the best out of his players and he is an incredible recruiter."
In Drake's only season at Colorado, he coached defensive tackle Mustafa Johnson, who racked up 7.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.
According to USA Today’s list of assistant coach salaries for 2018, Drake made $200,625 this year at Colorado, his first with the program.
Per documents obtained by the Journal-World, Drake signed a four-year team sheet with KU worth $1.47 million, with KU holding options on the third and fourth years.
Between the $225,000 base salary and “personal services” payments agreed upon for each of the first two guaranteed years of the deal, Drake is set to make $340,000 in 2019 and $350,000 in 2020.
Thus far, Miles has hired Drake, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, offensive line coach Luke Meadows, wide receivers coach Emmett Jones, defensive coordinator Eliot and defensive backs coach Chevis Jackson — filling six of the 10 allotted slots for full-time assistants.
Though KU has yet to announce anything about the status of any assistants who worked for former head coach David Beaty, fellow New Orleans native Tony Hull, running backs coach and associate head coach under Beaty, has actively recruited for KU since Miles took over.
For the past two years, Jesse Williams has coached KU’s defensive linemen. Williams’ deal with KU expires in February.
In 2017, Drake coached defensive linemen at Eastern Illinois. Following that season, Drake had been promoted to co-defensive coordinator before he was hired by Colorado.
In 2016, Drake was an offensive analyst at Memphis, where, coincidentally, the Tigers’ 8-5 season included a 43-7 drubbing of Kansas.
Drake got his start as a college football coach at Tulane, where he was a graduate assistant from 2012-13 and then became the defensive line coach for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Drake graduated from Nicholls State in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He earned a master’s in liberal arts from Tulane in 2013.
As an undergraduate in 2008, Drake was a student assistant for the Nicholls State football team, helping out with scouting reports.
After graduating from Nicholls, he became a high school coach at St. James (La.), overseeing the defensive line and special teams units.
From there, Drake went on to coach the defensive line at St. Augustine High in New Orleans, where he also worked as the recruiting coordinator and academic advisor from 2011-12, a span in which 25 players received scholarships from NCAA Division I programs.
A redshirt freshman this past season at KU, Takulve Williams graduated from St. Augustine in 2016.
In Drake’s prep days, he lettered in football, basketball and track before graduating from Destrehan High.
— A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Drake would make $340,000 in 2020 and $1.46 million overall.