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Purdue Football: Purdue Promotes David Elson to Linebacker Coach

Coach Elson moves from an off-field role to an on-field coaching role on the defense.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 30 Central Connecticut at Ball State Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Purdue and Jeff Brohm filled the hole at linebacker coach by asking quality control analyst David Elson to change offices. I expected Elson to be promoted this offseason, but didn’t know which slot he would fill. The Indianapolis native and former Butler safety has a wealth of coaching experience and could have filled any of the open defensive slots. He has deep ties to Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, and should be able to use his robust rolodex to help fortify in-region recruiting.

Coach Elson has a resume with an impressive number of bullet points. After finishing up his playing career at Butler, he took a graduate assistant job at Southern Illinois. After two season at USI, he moved on to coach defensive backs (I thought he would end up coaching defensive backs at Purdue) at Western Kentucky from 1996-2000. He was promoted to defensive coordinator for the Hilltopers in 2001, and held that position until 2002, when he was promoted to head coach. He held that position from 2003-2009, and helped with Western Kentucky’s transition into FBS football, taking his lumps along the way.

After being relieved of his duties at Western Kentucky, he spent the 2010 season as a quality control coach for Billy Lynch and the Indiana Hoosiers before moving back to Kentucky in 2001 to be the defensive coordinator at Franklin-Simpson High School (a step up in programs if you ask me). One year into that unconventional career move, he moved back into the college ranks as the defensive coordinator at New Mexico State. He held that position from 2012-2013.

After his stint in New Mexico, Coach Elson headed back to his home turf, completing part of his career arc by returning to Southern Illinois to coach defensive backs in 2014. After a season as a position coach, he was once again promoted to defensive coordinator. He held that job at Southern Illinois for the 2015 season before changing direction and taking the Western Illinois defensive coordinator job at Western Illinois for he 2016 season.

After the 2016 season, he moved back into the FBS as the defensive coordinator at Ball State. He held down that post from 2017-2019 before packing his bags and heading to Marian, Indiana to coordinate NAIA Marian’s defense in 2020. After one season at Marian, he headed to West Lafayette to take an off-field, quality control job. Following his normal pattern, he spent a season off-field before being promoted to an on-field job at Purdue.

(Wipes sweat from brow after hammering out that resume summary.)

Elson brings a wealth of experience to the defensive staff. As a former head coach and defensive coordinator, there’s not much he hasn’t seen during his coaching career. He’s worked with players at all levels, and should help on the developmental and game planning side of things, in addition to his deep Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky ties. Hiring him to coach linebackers and not defensive backs is interesting, because he’s coached defensive backs at numerous stops and never coached linebackers, but the addition of DB coach Ashton Youboty (more on him later in the week) necessitated his move to linebackers.

A solid pick up for Brohm, and if Elson is tired of his wandering ways, one that could stick for a few seasons.

*Stay tuned this week for my breakdown of the rest of the coaching hires.