- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has added an assistant coach to his staff, and it's a guy with a strong track record.
James Patton, who has spent the past seven years as Oklahoma's offensive line coach, will become the Hoosiers' new recruiting coordinator, special teams coordinator and assistant defensive line coach. Patton has worked with Wilson before, including six years at Miami of Ohio (1990-94, 98), three at Northwestern (1999-2001) and five at Oklahoma (2006-10).
“I have a lot of trust and confidence in James Patton,” Wilson said in a statement released by the school. “I coached him and worked with him as a graduate assistant and an assistant coach. James was one of the toughest players that I’ve ever coached, and he is an enthusiastic, hard-working football coach. He has been in the big time arena, is a Midwest guy and brings some balance to our staff."
The move allows current IU assistant Jon Fabris, who served as defensive ends coach last year and oversaw punt return and block in 2011, to become defensive line coach with no special-teams duties.
“We are excited about Jon Fabris coaching the front four,” Wilson said. “It gives us the consistency of one voice in the meeting room and on the field. Our players won’t have to shuffle back and forth between coaches, and James will be a great complement to Jon.”
Patton fills the vacancy created when defensive line coach Mark Hagen left for Texas A&M. Patton has spent his entire career coaching on the offensive side of the ball, including working with the offensive line and tight ends at Northwestern, so it's interesting to see him move to defense and special teams for Indiana. But he has proven that he can coach, and defense is the Hoosiers' biggest area for growth.
"I will bring energy and enthusiasm to help take our defense to greater heights," Patton said in a statement. "I am also looking forward to overseeing special teams and recruiting. I am very familiar with the league and the region and will continue to build off of the positive momentum Kevin and his staff have created. It is an exciting time to join the Hoosiers.”