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Clayton White

  • position Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach
  • position Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach

Clayton White

Clayton White, a four-time Frank Broyles Award nominee for the nation’s top assistant coach (2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021) and a 21-year coaching veteran, returns for his fourth season in Columbia. He was named the defensive coordinator on Jan. 10, 2021 and also coaches the inside linebackers.

Over his three seasons in Columbia, White’s defenses have forced 64 turnovers, the highest mark in the SEC during that stretch.

In 2023, the Gamecock defense surrendered 149.4 rushing yards per game, the fewest since 2017 and the second-fewest since 2012. Opponents rushed for just 3.88 yards per carry, the best mark since 2012. The Gamecocks posted the SEC’s second-best redzone defense and forced 17 turnovers in 12 games. Linebacker Debo Williams was a first-team All-SEC selection, while Nickel Jalon Kilgore earned Freshman All-America accolades.

In 2022, the Gamecocks ranked 27th in the country in pass efficiency defense and 34th in passing defense, allowing 206.7 yards per game through the air. They forced 23 turnovers, ranking second in the SEC and 20th in the country. Fifteen picks ranked first in the league and 14th in the nation. The defense scored two touchdowns, both on interception returns in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl against Notre Dame. Safety Nick Emmanwori earned true freshman All-America honors and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Three defensive players – Cam Smith, Zacch Pickens and Darius Rush – were selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.

In his first season in Columbia, the Carolina defense allowed 24.0 points per game, ranking 46th in the nation, with six of its 13 opponents scoring 17 points or less. That was following a 2020 season in which they allowed 36.0 points per game and ranked 105th in scoring defense. The Gamecocks forced 24 turnovers, ranking first in the SEC and tied for 14th in the country in turnovers gained. Fifteen interceptions tied for second in the SEC lead and for 14th in the country. Nine fumble recoveries tied for the SEC lead and for 25th in the nation. The defense scored four times – three pick-sixes and a scoop-and score, tying for the SEC lead and for seventh in the nation. Carolina surrendered 180.8 yards per game through the air, the fewest since 2011, ranking atop the SEC and seventh in the nation. Safety Jaylan Foster earned All-America honors.

White spent the prior four seasons as the defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Western Kentucky University.

In 2020, the Hilltoppers ranked 28th in total defense, including eighth in the nation in passing defense, allowing just 177.3 yards per game though the air. WKU was third in the nation with 68 passes defended and the defense scored three touchdowns.

In 2019, WKU produced a top 25 overall defense. WKU allowed 20.1 total points per game, the lowest mark for the program since 2004 and ranked No. 22 in FBS. Defensive end DeAngelo Malone was voted 2019 CUSA Defensive Player of the Year after producing 99 total tackles – including 21 for loss – with 11.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hurries.

The Hilltoppers were one of the nation’s stingiest inside the red zone in 2018. WKU allowed just a 103.41 passer rating with their backs against the wall, good for the sixth-best mark nationally. Even better, the Hilltoppers allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete passes at just a 32.7 percent clip, the best mark in the nation.

During White’s first campaign as the defensive playcaller in 2017, the Hilltoppers enjoyed a historic stretch, holding opponents to their fewest point totals through the season’s first seven games in 15 years and a record over that span in the FBS era.

The pass defense was also one of the nation’s stingiest in allowing passing touchdowns, as opposing teams found the end zone just 11 times through the air, a mark which ranked No. 5 nationally. The Hilltoppers ranked No. 40 nationally in pass defense – an improvement of 79 spots from the previous season.

Prior to his arrival in Bowling Green, White spent four seasons as the co-Special Teams Coordinator/Safeties Coach at NC State (2013-16). The Wolfpack ranked in the top-30 in total defense in both 2015 and 2016. In 2015, NC State was one of only two schools in the FBS to finish in the Top 20 in both kickoff return and punt return. Defensive back Dontae Johnson was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.

White served as the Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs Coach at UConn from 2011-12. While in Storrs, the Huskies tied for the national lead with three punt returns for touchdowns and led the Big East with a 12.5 punt return average, good for No. 18 nationally. Running back Lyle McCombs was named an FWAA Freshman All-American after becoming just the second Husky to rush for more than 1,000 yards in his freshman campaign.

White spent one season in Bowling Green on Willie Taggart’s first staff in 2010 and helped to build the WKU program during the FCS-to-FBS transition. He served as the Co-Special Teams Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach.

White had a three-year run at Stanford (2007-09) where he coached the Cardinal defensive backs, including future NFL Pro Bowler Richard Sherman, and future NFL players Michael Thomas, Johnson Bademosi and Delano Howell. The Cardinal rose to No. 14 in the polls in 2009 and reached a bowl game for the first time since 2001 that year.

White’s first coaching stop came as a defensive backs coach at Sanderson (N.C.) High in 2003. He also had stints at Western Carolina and Western Michigan.

White was a three-year letterman at linebacker at NC State (1997-2000), ending his career in the Wolfpack record book in several categories including career tackles for loss (33), single-season tackles for loss (16) and tackles in a single game (23). He had a three-year NFL career with the New York Giants (2001-02) and Tampa Bay (2003).

Originally from Dunn, N.C., and a 2001 graduate with a degree in sport management from NC State, White and his wife Kelly have two children, Chase and Macy.