Derrick LeBlanc is returning to the state of Arkansas to join Sam Pittman’s new staff. On Friday, it was announced that the former defensive line coach was leaving the Kentucky Wildcats for Fayetteville.
This is yet another big hire for Pittman. Kentucky was among the nation’s top three scoring defenses in 2018 and 2019, and the Wildcats’ stout interior line played a big part of that.
LeBlanc is a Louisiana native, but very familiar with Arkansas. His first full-time college coaching position was at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. He coached the Reddies’ defensive line and was the school’s strength and conditioning coordinator for from 2001-04.
Those defenses weren’t so stellar, giving up an average of more than 35 points a game in the 2002-04 seasons, but it’s obvious LeBlanc kept learning and improving.
LeBlanc left Arkadelphia for Russellville, where he was the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys’ defensive line coordinator in 2005 After that, he started going up to Division I schools starting with Missouri State.
LeBlanc has also proven to be a very adept recruiter. Over the last few years, he has helped Kentucky bring in its best defensive line class in program history. Four-star Justin Rogers, of the class of 2020, is the third highest-ranked signee in program history. The Wildcats also add four-star defensive tackle Josaih Hayes, four-star defensive end/outside linebacker Samuel Anaele.
He’ll be able to recruit in north Texas and Louisiana a lot easier from Arkansas and he did from Kentucky. His son Dayton plays for North Texas. (Arkansas is about eight hours and 600 miles closer to UNT than Lexington.)
More of Derrick LeBlanc’s background:
|2000||LSU||Defensive Graduate Assistant/Defensive Line|
|2001-04||Henderson State||Defensive Line|
|2005||Arkansas Tech||Defensive Line|
|2006-07||Missouri State||Defensive Line|
|2008-11||LSU||Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator; four bowls|
|2013-14||Southern Miss||Defensive Line|
|2016||North Texas||Defensive Line; one bowl|
|2017-present||Kentucky||Defensive Line; two bowls|
LeBlanc’s Postseason History
|2009||Capital One Bowl||LSU|
|2012||Allstate BCS National Championship Game – Runners-up||LSU|
|2016||Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl||North Texas|
|2017||Music City Bowl||Kentucky|
In 2018, LeBlanc’s unit helped Kentucky win 10 games for the first time in 41 years which included a win over Penn State in the VRBO Citrus Bowl, 27-24.
With no senior starters in 2017, LeBlanc’s young defensive line played a key role in helping UK hold six opponents under 100 rushing yards, the first time UK has accomplished that feat since 1949. UK also improved points allowed and third-down efficiency.
LeBlanc joined the Wildcat program after one season as the defensive line coach at North Texas. He was a part of the Mean Green’s remarkable turnaround from winning just one game in 2015 to five wins and an appearance in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2016.
The Mean Green defense ranked 13th nationally in defensive turnaround in points per game, allowing 41.2 ppg in 2015 and 32.6 in 2016. They also ranked third in Conference USA in pass defense, allowing just 200.2 yards per game. LeBlanc went to North Texas after one season as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss.
During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, LeBlanc helped revitalize the defensive line at Southern Miss. In his first year he managed a defensive line led by Khyri Thornton, who was named second team All-Conference USA and selected in the third round (85th overall pick) to the Green Bay Packers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Under LeBlanc’s tutelage, Thornton recorded 39 tackles, including 16 solo tackles and 23 assisted tackles.
LeBlanc’s previous SEC experience was at LSU, where he was an assistant strength and conditioning coordinator from 2008-11 under Les Miles. He also assisted with on-campus recruiting and during his four years with the Tigers, the team captured the 2008 Chick-fil-A Bowl Championship, faced Penn State in the Capital One Bowl following the 2009 season, defeated Texas A&M for the Cotton Bowl Championship following the 2010 season and in 2011 captured the SEC Championship and earned a berth in the BCS National Championship Game.
LeBlanc began his coaching career in 1997 at Breaux Bridge High School in Breaux Bridge, La., where he was the offensive and defensive line coach for three seasons from 1997-99. LeBlanc broke into the college ranks in 2000 when he accepted a graduate assistant position at LSU. There he assisted then-defensive line coach Pete Jenkins in coaching the defensive line, as well as assisting the strength and conditioning staff.
He played for Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., from 1992-96. LeBlanc played both defensive and offensive line during his playing career, and earned Southland Conference All-Academic honors as both a junior and senior.
He and his wife, Niema, have two sons, Dayton and Derrick, and one daughter, Kennedy.