Jan. 18, 2011
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema announced Tuesday that he has promoted Chris Ash and Charlie Partridge to co-defensive coordinators and hired Dave Huxtable, most recently the defensive coordinator at UCF, to coach linebackers. These moves complete the Badgers’ defensive coaching staff after former defensive coordinator Dave Doeren took the Northern Illinois head coaching job following the season.
“I’m excited to announce the completion of our coaching staff,” Bielema said. “I’m thrilled to be able to promote Chris and Charlie to co-defensive coordinators and keep the continuity of our defensive staff intact. They have both done terrific jobs during their time at Wisconsin and, with a number of key returning players on that side of the ball, I’m eager to watch them continue to develop good players.”
Partridge and Ash were college teammates at Drake and on the same coaching staff at Drake in 1996-97.
Partridge is entering his fourth season at Wisconsin. He spent the last three years as UW’s defensive line coach. Under his tutelage, five different players have earned All-Big Ten honors, including first-team selections O’Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt. Schofield was second in the country in 2009 with 24.5 tackles for loss (second-best in school history) while Watt was seventh in the country last season with 21.0 TFLs. Watt was named a second-team All-American and won the Lott IMPACT Award. Partridge has also worked with the Badgers’ specialists.
Ash is starting his second year at UW. In his first season with the Badgers, Ash coached the secondary. Three of Wisconsin’s four starting defensive backs earned All-Big Ten honors in 2010. Cornerback Antonio Fenelus was a first-team selection after recording a team-high four interceptions and 11 passes defended, while also recovering two fumbles and forcing another. Free safety Aaron Henry, in his first season after converting from cornerback, was a second-team selection. He scored three defensive touchdowns while recording three fumble recoveries, two interceptions, one forced fumble and leading the team with 47 solo tackles. Cornerback Niles Brinkley earned honorable mention honors, breaking up nine passes and forcing a fumble.
Huxtable, with 29 years of college coaching experience, has spent the last seven seasons at UCF, the last three as the Knights’ defensive coordinator. Last year UCF won the Conference USA title and defeated Georgia in the Liberty Bowl, recording a school-record 11 wins. Huxtable’s defense was a big reason for that success. The Knights ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense (17.1 ppg.), eighth in rushing defense (108.4 ypg.), 15th in total defense (315.4 ypg.) and 18th in pass efficiency defense (113.0).
“I think Dave is a great addition to our staff,” Bielema said. “He brings a ton of experience, having coached the linebacker position virtually his entire career. His defenses at UCF were very well-coached, as evidenced by their success this season. As good a coach as he is, he is even a better person and he will fit into our staff very well.”
In 2009, UCF was fourth in the country in rushing defense (82.8 ypg.), sixth in sacks (38.0) and tied for seventh in fumbles recovered (16). In Huxtable’s first season as coordinator, the Knights were third in the country in tackles for loss (8.2 per game) and 18th in the country in pass efficiency defense (107.5).
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to coach at Wisconsin,” Huxtable said. “The University of Wisconsin is a top-notch program with great tradition. When I came up to visit I was so impressed with the people, the coaching staff and Coach Bielema. I’m very excited to get the opportunity to work for him. I’m looking forward to getting up to Madison and winning football games.”
Huxtable spent his first four seasons at UCF as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. From 2001-03, Huxtable worked at North Carolina. He coached the linebackers for three seasons and also served as the team's defensive coordinator for the final two years of his stint in Chapel Hill. In 2001, he also was North Carolina's special teams coordinator.
Huxtable helped guide a unit that finished first in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 15th in the nation in 2001 in total defense. In addition, he molded a group of inexperienced linebackers into one of the top units in the ACC. Under Huxtable's instruction, former walk-on David Thornton earned All-ACC honors in 2001 after leading the Tar Heels with 131 tackles. That same season, fellow linebacker Quincy Monk was second on the team with 125 stops. Thornton (fourth round) and Monk (seventh round) were both selected in the NFL Draft.
Prior to North Carolina, Huxtable spent a year as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Oklahoma State. Before coaching the Cowboys, he spent two years on the East Carolina staff. Huxtable worked with the Pirate linebackers in 1998 and defensive line in 1999.
Huxtable and UCF head coach George O'Leary worked together at Georgia Tech during the 1990s. While serving as the Yellow Jackets' linebackers coach from 1992-97, Huxtable also spent time as the program's defensive coordinator (1996-97) and special teams coordinator (1992-94).
Huxtable’s first stint at East Carolina came in the early 1990s, coaching linebackers and special teams from 1990-91. He also coached at Western Kentucky from 1985-89 and was the Hilltoppers' defensive coordinator in 1989. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Iowa State in 1982 and then served as the defensive coordinator at Independence Community College in Kansas.
During his career, Huxtable has coached a pair of players who were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft: Robert Jones at East Carolina (Dallas, 1991) and Keith Brooking at Georgia Tech (Atlanta, 1997).
A 1979 graduate of Eastern Illinois with a bachelor's degree in education, Huxtable and his wife Vicki have a daughter, Shea, and a son, Jake. Shea played tennis at Georgia Southern and Jake played the 2009 and 2010 seasons on the UCF baseball squad.
“Over the last month I have witnessed how much respect our staff and program have nationally, both because of the interest other programs have in talking to our coaches and also the number of terrific coaches who expressed interest in joining our staff,” Bielema said. “It truly shows that this is a special place to work. I am appreciative to the members of our staff who have stayed because I know they have been presented excellent opportunities but chose to remain at Wisconsin.”