Originally published December 13, 2018 at 11:46a.m., updated December 13, 2018 at 05:52p.m.

Les Miles hires Kwahn Drake to coach KU’s defensive linemen

Drake worked previously with KU's new DC

Kansas football defensive line coach Kwahn Drake

Kansas football defensive line coach Kwahn Drake


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.


Brett McCabe 2 years, 4 months ago

Seems like a great get. This staff is being assembled with great intelligence. Recruit, recruit, recruit.

Gerry Butler 2 years, 4 months ago

from another site was posted that KU was assembling probably the best recruiting group of Coach's in the league. - -NO MORE automatic wins when play the HAWKS fella's - - " YOU'VE BEEN SERVED " - - lmao. - - ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

Randy Bombardier 2 years, 4 months ago

Great news. I was so dismayed, ok more like pissed, that after the orange bowl win we couldn't recruit any better than we did. I think the year following we were like 75th.

Jacob Zutterman 2 years, 4 months ago

Pretty crazy how that works. We were 48th last year

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 4 months ago

This is interesting...a New Orleans guy for recruiting...Hull I've always been led to believe he likely would stay; however, with a New Orleans heavy recruiter, this might put that in question. I would say that Hull has been the one out and about in Kansas too; so I don't know, just a little note.

I'm good with Les replacing all 15 (or 10 assistants) positions or keeping a couple, but I'm glad he is making changes.

I've said all along the three I'd consider are Ricker (although I think I referred to him as Ricket), Hull, and Miller.

Jack Hoff 2 years, 4 months ago

I still firmly believe Bowen should be kept on staff. He is a good coach. He should be kept in some capacity. And let's not forget we also have to recruit KC Metro and there aren't many people more equipped to recruit the Kansas region than him. Dineen, Heeney, Schadler, are a few examples of that. Amazing how much flack the guy gets. KU has a whole wasn't very good and he was a part of that culture but to me he's an asset to Kansas football going forward.

Andy Tweedy 2 years, 4 months ago

Can you point to one statistic, not speculation, that shows, over the last X number of years, that says we shouldn't try something different? Bowen is a great Jayhawk, but I challenge you to find one solid stat that says he's a great defensive coordinator, because you can't bring him back in a lesser on field capacity.

Tricky Gnosis 2 years, 4 months ago

I've met Clint Bowen; I liked him a lot, but this year we were still seeing basic level mistakes and confusion on the field. I hope they keep Mr. Hull, simply because he kept working hard when the new coach came in, but no one can blame Les for not wanting to keep anyone associated with the past 4 years.

Jack Hoff 2 years, 4 months ago

Here you go. Plenty of team stats that show KU being among one of the better defensive teams in the Big 12. Here's the thing Bowen has coached at KU for 20 years!!! So that includes the stint where KU was at it's peak and he led those defenses in Bowl games as well. I'm not saying he should be back as a coordinator, I'm just saying he should be back. Have you noticed that pretty much all of KU's draft picks over the last 20 years are defensive players? And Bowen is a big reason for that. He didn't forget how to coach when Mangino left, the teams just sucked due to head coaches. He should be back in some capacity period.

Andy Tweedy 2 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, he'd be a good position coach, in fact he probably was already a good position coach, but you can't bring that dude back as a position coach now, that dynamic just won't work. And I'm not sure what stat you're using 7/10 in total defense?

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm really surprised about the support that individuals give Bowen. Bowen's defense gave up a lot of early drives in the first four years he was here. Many people forget that the DC is responsible to scout the other defense for the offense. Not only were Bowen's defenses usually bad for the first four years, it did not appear that the scouting for the offense assisted much either. Not entirely his fault, but it just never saw consistency.

As for this year, there were times when the defense held its own. I would say that turnovers did cover up a lot of issues they were having; however, turnovers are the #1 play a defense can have, so I'll give credit for that. I will still say the major difference between past years and this year was the addition of Miller. Miller is a great analyst and maybe was the missing part for Bowen all along. However, it is too little to late. He has 5 years of experience and only this year did we see some improvement. The improvement was really in turnovers and as I mention this is great, but Bowen should not be retained. He just did not perform consistently nor effectively.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 4 months ago

Andy - Have really been paying so little attention that you us being among the nation's leaders in turnovers? It has been a major theme throughout the year and Coach Bowen did that through very intentional means that were well documented in an article a couple months ago.

Not everything about the coaching staff has been bad. Not at all.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 4 months ago

One year of being great at turnovers hardly makes up for all the other years of terrible play. And even this year they gave up huge chunks of yardage.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 4 months ago

Drake seems like an excellent hire, and it looks like Miles is doing a great job of assembling a top-notch staff, especially when it comes to recruiting.

David Robinett 2 years, 4 months ago

New Orleans native!! HS, Nichols and Tulane!! Team up with Hull and Les for a powerful pipeline!!

Dirk Medema 2 years, 4 months ago

Len - The request was for one. To miss a major storyline from the season is a matter of just not paying attention. To some extent that is understandable. The losing did get old.

Similarly it is understandable to have forgotten the major storyline when Beaty and Bowen were hired. The roster was decimated and would take years to rebuild. It is not "making up" for it but rather finally getting close to a competitive roster. And the team (D) started to respond accordingly. It showed in TOs in particular, but there were other categories of significant improvement. It was not all bad.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 4 months ago

Interesting article in Slant - Where the OL coach commented on this being so much different than other rebuilds he's been a part of because the resources are there.

It also occurred to me as I was reading that both coordinators brought their own line coaches with them. Foundational.

Jim Stauffer 2 years, 4 months ago

I am wondering if we are getting out top guys each time or not. First it was Brumbaugh who has a better resume and now it is Drake and he is supposed to be really great. Just don't know. It is ironic that we now have a DL Coach from Nicholls State who probably sealed the fate of Coach Beaty in the first week of this season.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 4 months ago

Beaty's fate was sealed when Zenger got fired. There were very few paths for Beaty to remain the coach after this season. I don't think a bowl game would have saved his KU job.

However, the Nicholls loss did ensure that no one could argue against dismissing him.

Jeff Kallmeyer 2 years, 4 months ago

Quite a bump in salary, hope he's worth it!

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