D.J. Eliot was in his first year as a full-time coach when he had a chance to meet Mike MacIntyre.

It was 2003, and Eliot was a defensive backs coach at Texas State. MacIntyre, already a veteran coach, was in his first season as the defensive backs for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.

"Me and a couple of coaches drove up to the Dallas Cowboys to meet with some of their coaches and I got set up with coach MacIntyre," Eliot said. "He and I were in a room all day together. Then we went out to have dinner that night. That's when I first met him and then I followed him throughout his career."

Nearly 14 years later, the two will work together.

Last week, MacIntyre, entering his fifth season as the head coach at Colorado, hired Eliot to become the Buffaloes' defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

"I'm fortunate to be able to work for him now," said Eliot, who met the local media for the first time on Tuesday.

Eliot comes to CU (10-4, 8-1 Pac-12 last season) after four seasons at Kentucky, where he helped the Wildcats (7-6 this past season) snap a six-year bowl drought in 2016.

In a Southeastern Conference loaded with powerhouse programs, Kentucky wasn't one of them. In fact, from 2006-15, Kentucky had the worst winning percentage in conference among the 14 teams in the SEC.

The challenge of working in the SEC is one that Eliot believes made him a better coach, however.


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"It was definitely a challenge, but we knew it was going to be a challenge going into it," said Eliot, who was at Kentucky from 2013-16. "We're pleased with our efforts leaving Kentucky. We definitely left it a better place than we found it. I think it's those experiences that have helped me become a better defensive coordinator."

Eliot's final season came with mixed results. After Eliot's defense gave up a 1,084 yards and 89 points in the first two games, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops took over play-calling duties on that side of the ball.

Eliot played a big role in game planning the rest of the season, however, helping the Wildcats go 7-3 in their final 10 regular season games.

"There's plenty of things I can do better (as a coach)," said Eliot, who played at Wyoming. "There's a lot I've learned on that I can do better, but there's nothing I regret from that experience (at Kentucky). Everything that we did put them in position to get to the step that they are now, and I'm very excited about that and confident about that."

His task now is to help keep CU on the winning track.

The Buffaloes had 10 consecutive losing seasons before their breakout season in 2016, which included the defense ranking among the top 20 in the country. While eight senior starters from last year's defense are gone, Eliot hopes to keep the train rolling.

"I'm looking forward to working with these young men," Eliot said. "I'm going to work hard every day, I'm going to make sure that I have everything the players need to be successful and try to help them put in position to make plays and push them to be the best players they can be."

Eliot has already watched all 14 of CU's games from this past season and he's watched the players in a few morning workouts over the past week. In studying CU's personnel, Eliot said several players stood out to him, including inside linebackers Rick Gamboa and Addison Gillam, outside linebackers NJ Falo and Derek McCartney and safety Afolabi Laguda.

"I'm excited about them and I'm looking forward to working with them," he said.

Eliot said there are five major things he emphasizes with players: exaction, winning1-on-1 battles, effort, creating turnovers and tackling.

"Those five things are what I think makes a great defense," he said.

He described himself as a detailed and organized coach and added, "I'm extremely energetic and I demand a lot from my players in practice."

After posting just the eighth 10-win season in program history, CU demands a lot of itself now, and Eliot is eager to join the team.

"What they did last year was phenomenal," he said. "I wasn't a part of that, but I'm looking forward to helping them get to the next level."

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.