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Colorado Buffs to hire Alabama’s Charles Kelly as defensive coordinator

Alabama safeties coach Charles Kelly works with his players before Alabama's A-Day scrimmage on April 16 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Alabama safeties coach Charles Kelly works with his players before Alabama’s A-Day scrimmage on April 16 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders has found his defensive coordinator.

BuffZone has learned through multiple sources that Charles Kelly will be hired to lead the Buffaloes’ defense.

Kelly, 55, has been the associate defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Alabama for the past four years.

Sanders, introduced as the Buffs’ head coach on Sunday, is quickly assembling his staff. CU has yet to announce any assistant coach hires, but several of them have already been revealed and some have already started working at CU.

Before going to Alabama, Kelly worked as the special teams coordinator and safeties coach at Tennessee in 2018 and was at Florida State for five seasons (2013-17), including the last four as the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator.

Kelly was a part of national championship teams at Alabama in 2020 and Florida State in 2013.

During his coaching career, Kelly has also been the defensive coordinator at Nicholls State, Henderson State and Jacksonville State. A former defensive back at Auburn, Kelly also coached Georgia Tech from 2006-12, first as special teams coordinator for two years and then four years coaching defensive backs.

It was reported Monday that Sean Lewis, the head coach at Kent State the past five years, would be the Buffaloes’ offensive coordinator. Lewis was at the Champions Center on Wednesday, according to sources.

Also coming to CU from Kent State is Bill O’Boyle, who will coach the Buffs’ offensive line. O’Boyle confirmed his hire on Twitter, posting, “My new home! Come be a part of the Herd and change the game with me in Boulder,” along with a photo of CU mascot Ralphie.

For the past five years, O’Boyle, 59, has worked with Lewis at Kent State. In addition to coaching the offensive line, he had the titles of assistant head coach for offense and run game coordinator.

O’Boyle has been in coaching since 1987, but this will be his first job at a Power 5 school. Prior to his tenure at Kent State, he was the offensive line coach South Dakota (2016-17) and Southern Illinois (2013-15) and the offensive coordinator at Colorado Mesa (2012).

From 1994-2011, O’Boyle worked at Chadron State, first as an assistant, then as offensive coordinator (1999-2004). He was the head coach from 2005-11, going 57-21.

Tight ends coach Tim Brewster, who worked with Sanders at Jackson State this year, has been on board at CU this week. He posted on Twitter on Wednesday that he was hitting the recruiting trail for the Buffs.

Two more of Sanders’ assistants from Jackson State, Andre Hart (linebackers) and Kevin Mathis (cornerbacks) have also been on the job at CU this week.


Also on Wednesday, Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports reported that former CU offensive line coach Kyle DeVan has been hired by Charlotte to be the associate head coach/run game coordinator/offensive line coach. Other than running backs coach Darian Hagan, CU’s assistants from this past season were fired on Tuesday morning. DeVan is the first to land a new job. … Safety recruit Jamari Holliman, from Miami, Fla., decommitted from CU on Wednesday. Of the 20 players who committed to CU under the previous staff, 10 have announced their decommitment.