LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas football head coach David Beaty announced that Joe DeForest has joined the KU coaching staff and will serve as the Jayhawks’ special teams coordinator. In addition to his role as special teams coordinator, DeForest will be an assistant coach on the defensive side of the ball.
Known nationally for his special teams expertise, DeForest brings with him 26 years of collegiate coaching experience, including having coached in 13 bowl games. He was named a Rivals.com Top 25 recruiter in 2004, 2006 and 2008, and has coached 28 all-conference performers, 10 All-Americans and 11 players who have gone on to play professionally.
“We are excited to add Joe to our staff,” said Beaty, who is in his second season at the helm of the Jayhawk program. “His special teams units have been among the top in every category throughout his time in the Big 12. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that will help our program moving forward.”
DeForest joins Beaty’s staff after spending the previous four seasons at West Virginia. In his first season at WVU in 2012, DeForest was associate head coach/defensive coordinator, while also coaching the safeties. He then served as special teams coordinator and coached the safeties from 2013-15.
During his time at WVU, DeForest mentored two special teams players – Mario Alford (kickoff returner) and Josh Lambert (kicker) – to All-America honors. Lambert was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award in 2014. In addition, he guided Lambert and punter Nick O’Toole to All-Big 12 honors, while also coaching safety Karl Joseph to All-Big 12 accolades.
Prior to his time in Morgantown, DeForest spent 11 seasons on the staff at Oklahoma State, where he worked under Les Miles from 2001-04, and then under current Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy. At OSU, DeForest was the associate head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach from 2005-11. From 2001-05, he was the special teams coordinator and secondary coach.
DeForest coached three different Cowboys to Big 12 Special Teams Player-of-the-Year honors over his last four years at OSU: return man Dez Bryant in 2008, kicker Dan Bailey in 2010 and kicker/punter Quinn Sharp in 2011. During his OSU tenure, he also coached the all-time leaders in kick return touchdowns: Perrish Cox took four back for scores from 2006-09, and Justin Gilbert best that total with six touchdowns from 2010-13.
In 2011, DeForest was part of the OSU staff that produced one the finest seasons in the school’s history. The Cowboys finished 12-1 overall, won the Big 12 Conference championship, defeated Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl and finished as the No. 3-ranked team nationally in both major polls.
He served as position coach for a pair of All-Americans, safety Markelle Martin (AFCA) and kicker Quinn Sharp (FWAA). Martin finished with 74 tackles, including five tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Sharp was the No. 3-ranked punter in the nation, tied for No. 7 in field goals made per game and No. 5 in scoring.
In 2010, DeForest had one of the top special teams units in the nation. Bailey won the prestigious Lou Groza Award, and Sharp earned first team All-America (FWAA) honors. His unit accounted for two kick return touchdowns, a punt return touchdown and two blocked punt returns for touchdowns. Defensively, his safeties Johnny Thomas and Martin both returned interceptions for touchdowns.
His 2008 special teams units were as equally impressive. The Cowboys boasted the No. 2 punt return unit in the nation, the No. 6 punt unit and the No. 18 kick return squad.
Punter Matt Fodge was named the recipient of the Ray Guy Award, presented to the nation’s top punter; Bryant, OSU’s punt returner, earned the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year Award, and Cox collected All-America honors as a kick returner.
Cox set a Big 12 record with two kick returns for touchdowns that season to give him four career kick returns for touchdowns, a figure that at one time led all active NCAA players. In 2007 he was one of only three players in the nation to return a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown.
In 2006, the Cowboys ended the year No. 8 nationally in kickoff returns, No. 27 in punt returns, and had some of the nation’s standout special teams performers. Cox was named a freshman All-American after finishing No. 14 nationally in punt returns; Grant Jones, a second team All-American, was No. 13 in kickoff returns and Fodge was named a second team All-American after ending the season No. 8 in punting.
In 2005, Daniel McLemore accumulated the second-most kickoff return yards (638) in OSU history. DeForest also oversaw the development of walk-on kicker Bruce Redden, who connected on 11-of-14 field goals for the year.
In 2004, the Cowboys led the Big 12 and were No. 10 nationally in punt returns, averaging 14.7 yards per return, No. 26 in net punting and No. 38 in kickoff returns.
When DeForest arrived in Stillwater in 2001, his impact was felt immediately, as Oklahoma State improved in every statistical category, going from No. 78 to No. 10 in net punting, from No. 67 to No. 12 in punt returns and from No. 92 to No. 3 in kickoff returns. Returner Chris Massey led the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 34.8 yards per return.
Prior to his tenure at Oklahoma State, DeForest served stints at Duke (1994-2001) as the special teams’ coordinator and linebackers coach. He was the outside linebackers coach at Rice from 1992-94 and the offensive graduate assistant (RB) there from 1990-92. He began his coaching career at Titusville High School in Titusville, Fla., in 1988 and served two years as the outside linebackers coach.
While at Duke in 2000, the Blue Devils finished No. 6 nationally in net punting and 15th in kickoff returns. Punter Brian Morton was No. 2 in the nation in punting, averaging 45.2 yards per kick, while Kyle Moore (No. 9) and Chris Douglas (No. 45) both ranked in the Top 50 in kickoff returns. Trevor Cobb was the 1991 Doak Walker Award winner as one of DeForest’s pupils at Rice.
DeForest is a 1987 graduate of University of Southwest Louisiana (now known as University of Louisiana) with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He was a four-year starter and was twice named to the all-Southern and all-Louisiana independent teams. He also was a two-year lettermen as a pitcher on the Ragin Cajuns’ baseball squad. He received the first annual President’s Cup, signifying the University’s top male athlete.
He played two years of professional football as an outside linebacker and deep snapper, first for the Houston Oilers (NFL) and New Orleans Saints (NFL) in 1987 and then finished career with the Calgary Stampeders (CFL) in 1988.
— KU Athletics —