GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman head football coach Bruce Fowler announced today the hiring of Kyle Gillenwater as the Paladins' new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Gillenwater joins the Furman program following one year as defensive line and linebackers coach at Bridgwater (Va.) College, his alma mater, after spending 15 seasons (1999-2013) at James Madison University, where he served as linebackers coach before adding defensive coordinator duties in 2009.
"We're excited to have Kyle Gillenwater join our staff as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach," said Fowler. "He's a proven coach, having directed several outstanding defensive units at James Madison, and brings with him a winning, championship attitude. We're very pleased he's now part of the Paladin football program."
"Kyle is as good a defensive coordinator as there is in college football at any level," said former James Madison head coach Mickey Matthews. "He combines excellent schemes with an innate ability to get kids to play really hard. He is a terrific hire for Furman's football program."
During his tenure at James Madison, where he served under Matthews, he helped the Dukes advance to NCAA postseason play six times and win three conference championships — two Atlantic 10 titles and one Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) crown — as well as the 2004 NCAA I-AA (FCS) championship, which included a 14-13 upset of Furman in Paladin Stadium in quarterfinal round action.
All told James Madison posted a record of 109-71 (.605) with Gillenwater on staff, highlighted by a program best 13-2 mark in 2004.
In terms of player development, under his guidance JMU linebackers combined to claim nine All-American honors, six conference player of the year selections, and 13 all-conference tabs. Among the most notable were Derrick Lloyd, recipient of the 2001 Buck Buchanan Award, awarded annually to the top defender in the FCS; Akeem Jordan, an eight-year NFL veteran (2007-present); and Arthur Moats, winner of the 2009 Buck Buchanan Award who recently completed his fifth NFL season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Prior to his tenure at James Madison, he served as defensive line coach at Elon for three seasons (1996-98) and as assistant linebackers coach at Marshall (1994) following a stint at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy.
He played collegiately at Bridgewater, starring as an offensive guard for three seasons and earning All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) honors in 1986, his senior year. He earned his bachelor's degree in education in 1987 and added a master's in education from Frostburg State in 1989 before returning to his alma mater to begin his coaching career as defensive backs coach at recruiting coordinator (1989-91).
He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three sons: Josh, Trey, and Thomas James.
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information