DAVIE, Fla - FSU assistant coach D.J. Eliot’s final game with the Seminoles will also mark his first serving in the capacity of defensive coordinator, a position he will hold at Kentucky under former coordinator Mark Stoops, who accepted the job earlier this month.
Eliot, who has spent the past three seasons as FSU’s defensive ends coach, told the media at Saturday morning’s press conference that he is anxious to see the ‘Noles through Tuesday’s Discover Orange Bowl date with Northern Illinois.
“The last three years have been tremendous for me at Florida State,” Eliot said. “I have such great memories and worked so hard, and my players mean so much to me - and the opportunity that Coach Fisher gave me - I really wanted to finish this thing off on a high note. And I wanted to do everything I could for the program, the coaches and the players, to make sure that we finish this season with
a win and continue to do what I can throughout the rest of this week to get us there.”
Eliot joked that he’s probably “broke a record on airline miles” over the past few weeks, bouncing back and forth between Kentucky and FSU.
“I've had a lot of responsibilities on both ends, and there hasn't been much downtime at all,” he said. “I've still got a task at hand, so I'm still in that mode, that work mode. You know, it's been exciting, but it's also been challenging to manage two jobs, but I'm fully committed, fully focused on winning this game.”
FSU’s defensive ends, unanimous All-American Bjoern Werner and All-ACC standouts Cornellius Carradine and Brandon Jenkins, have flourished under Eliot’s mentoring. Over the past three seasons the Seminoles have boasted one of the nation’s most ferocious pass rushes, which has been pivotal to the overall defensive improvement.
As a result, FSU has rekindled the long-standing reputation it once held for producing NFL-bound defensive ends, just as they did under assistant coach Jim Gladden throughout the 1990s.
“I always looked at Florida State as a place where they weren't lucky to have me, but I was lucky to have Florida State, and that's the way I approached work every day,” Eliot said. “Coach Fisher took a chance on me. I was a young (defensive) line coach at Rice that did a good job in an interview, so I’ve tried to repay him every single day with my work.
“My players mean a tremendous amount to me,” he contineued. “They bought in early to what we were doing, and they've been very successful, and they've always respected me and done exactly what I've told them to do. So I want them to know that I was going to be here until the end for them, as well.