Alley named ULM Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach

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Zac Alley
PHOTO: John Kelly

MONROE, La. – Zac Alley, who spent the last two seasons on Bryan Harsin’s coaching staff at Boise State after launching his career as a graduate assistant coach for four years under Dabo Swinney at Clemson, has been named defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at ULM, according to an announcement made Monday, Jan. 11 by head coach Terry Bowden.

At the age of 27, Alley becomes the youngest defensive coordinator in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.

In 2020, he served as co-special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach at Boise State. In his two seasons, the Broncos posted a 17-4 record, including an impressive streak of 13 consecutive regular-season wins in Mountain West Conference games.

In his first season as co-special teams coordinator, Avery Williams earned first-team All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America (kick returner), American Football Coaches Association (all-purpose player), USA TODAY (kick returner) and Sporting News (return specialist). Williams, who ranked among the NCAA FBS leaders in both punt returns (third with 15.3-yard average) and kickoff returns (12th with 28.1 avg.), led the nation in combined kick return yards (762) and special teams touchdowns (4 total: scoring on a pair of kickoff returns and two punt returns).

Under Alley’s guidance, true freshman placekicker Jonah Dalmas led the Broncos in scoring with 51 points, hitting 7-of-8 field-goal attempts and 30-of-31 extra-point attempts. Dalmas, who was selected All-Mountain West honorable mention, ranked second in the league and No. 12 in the NCAA FBS in field-goal percentage (.875).

In addition, he tutored All-Mountain West Second-Team linebacker Riley Whimpey, who led the Broncos in tackles (61) and tackles for loss (7.5 for 17 yards).

Boise State finished 5-2 in 2020, including a 5-0 mark in league play and advanced to the Mountain West Conference Championship Game against San Jose State in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 2019, Alley coached the inside linebackers as Boise State produced a 12-2 record overall and finished ranked No. 23 in The Associated Press and No. 22 in the Coaches’ Polls, respectively. The Broncos won the conference’s Mountain Division title with a perfect 8-0 record, defeated Hawaii, 31-10, in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game and earned a trip to 2019 Las Vegas Bowl against Washington. Boise State ranked No. 15 in the NCAA FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 112.7 yards per game.

He previously worked for four years (2015-18) as a graduate assistant at Clemson, his alma mater. Alley spent his entire postgraduate career on the defensive side of the football, where he worked primarily with the defensive tackles and linebackers. In 2018, the Tigers ranked among the NCAA FBS leaders in scoring defense (first at 13.1 points pg.), rushing defense (fourth at 96.3 ypg.) and total defense (fifth at 285.9 ypg.). During his tenure, Clemson won two National Championships, four Atlantic Coast Conference titles and compiled a combined record of 55-4 (.932).

“I set out to identify a young, dynamic defensive coordinator, and I found one of the best in the country in Zac Alley,” Bowden said. “I talked with (defensive coordinator) Brent Venables at Clemson and he said Zac is the one man he’d hire to run our defense. We’re fortunate to get him from Boise State.

“Zac has a great football IQ. He’s very smart, and since he’s worked so closely with Coach Venables for the past several years, he understands the defense. Zac has confidence in his ability to run the defense, organize his staff and consistently place players in positions to be successful. I’m impressed by his work habits as well as his confidence and the enthusiasm by which he leads.

“I became a college head coach at 26 and had a lot of success early in my career. So, age was no factor to me. I set out to find the right guy for ULM, regardless of age.

“I’m going to surround myself with people who know how to win and understand what it takes to win: the amount of commitment and the amount of effort,” Bowden continued. “I’m assembling the right staff to coach championship football here at ULM.”

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to come to ULM and help build a great program,” Alley said. “It all starts with laying the foundation for the future. We have a lot of talented players here, and it’s our job to help them to continue to grow and develop. Coach Bowden has a vision for the future of this program, and the future here is bright. He made me a believer in what can be built here.

“We’ll have a chance to turn things around here, and it’s going to be awesome when we do. We’ll strive for continual improvement, and hopefully, we’ll win enough to get to a bowl game this year.”

Alley also had a defensive coaching internship with the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers.

He started working as a student assistant in the Clemson Football Office as a freshman in 2011 and spent four years in that capacity while earning his bachelor’s degree in business management in December 2014. Alley completed his master’s in human resource development from Clemson in August 2017.

Alley graduated from Charlotte (N.C.) Country Day School, where he played linebacker and offensive line.

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