BUFFALO, NY – Considered by many as one of the top young minds in all of college football, Maurice Linguist was named the University at Buffalo's 26th head coach, Athletic Director Mark Alnutt announced today. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Linguist who was the Bulls' defensive backs coach in 2012 and 2013.
"It's my honor to welcome our new Head Football Coach, Maurice "Mo" Linguist and his family back to Buffalo," said Alnutt. "He is a person of high integrity, a great family man, a relentless recruiter and a proven winner who checked all the boxes during this critical time for UB Football. His ability to connect with young men and develop them to excel both on and off the field has been proven throughout his career. He is a rising star in this business who is more than prepared to lead our football program to greater heights. I'm extremely excited for the future of UB Football!"
Linguist is regarded as one of the nation's top recruiters and has excelled in coaching at both the Power Five level and the NFL. He comes to UB from Michigan where he served a brief stint as defensive backs coach/co-defensive coordinator since January. He joined the U-M coaching staff after spending the 2020 season as cornerbacks coach with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.
In Dallas, Linguist directed a secondary that forced 10 interceptions while allowing the fifth-fewest passing first downs in the league (180). The Cowboys were also ranked in the top half of the league in pass yards allowed (11th), completion percentage against (10th), and takeaways (ninth). Linguist coached rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs (three interceptions) to a strong first season in the league. Three of Dallas' four leading tacklers in 2020 were starters in the secondary, including former Wolverine Jourdan Lewis who set a career-high with 59 stops.
Linguist has worked with college secondaries at nine programs. Prior to heading to the NFL, he coached cornerbacks at Texas A&M (2018-19), defensive backs at Minnesota (2017), safeties at Mississippi State (2016) and defensive backs at Iowa State (2014-15)
At A&M, Linguist's secondaries limited opportunities for opponents and played tight coverage in key situations. Teams converted just 31.2 percent of third down tries (102-of-326) over his two seasons and A&M ranked ninth nationally in that category in 2018. The Aggies intercepted their opponents 19 times in his two seasons and made a habit of getting off the field. During the 2018 season, the defense was top-15 nationally in first downs allowed (221) and faced the fewest snaps against among all SEC teams.
Linguist helped the Aggies produce back-to-back top-six recruiting classes nationally in 2019 and 2020. He was the lead recruiter for five-star safety Jaylon Jones, the first five-star defensive back to sign with Texas A&M.
In his season at Minnesota, Linguist's secondary helped anchor a defense that finished No. 11 nationally with 174.5 yards allowed per game after listing 73rd in the NCAA a year earlier. The unit surrendered 16 touchdowns, a top-25 figure nationally and also ranked among the nation's best in first downs allowed (11th) and total defense (30th). Linguist was the lead recruiter for Rashod Bateman, the Big Ten's Wide Receiver of the Year. Linguist was promoted to assistant head coach following the 2017 season before accepting a position at Texas A&M.
At Mississippi State, Linguist led the safeties group which was responsible for seven of the team's 14 interceptions. Three safeties eclipsed the 50-tackle mark for the Bulldogs: Brandon Bryant (62, three PBUs), Kivon Coman (58, four PBUs), and Mark McLaurin (51, seven PBUs) were among the team's leading tacklers. The defense scored four touchdowns (No. 8, NCAA) and totaled 14 interceptions (No. 35, NCAA) during the 2016 season.
Prior to his time in Starkville, Linguist coached defensive backs at Iowa State (2014-15). He coached players to three All-Big 12 honors in his two seasons at Iowa State, including safety Kamari Cotton-Moya, a first-team All-American freshman team selection by the Football Writers' Association of America (FWAA). Cotton-Moya led the team in tackles and was named the conference's Freshman of the Year on defense. Linguist would help direct cornerback Brian Peavy to be a finalist for the award the following year.
In his time at UB, Linguist helped the Bulls finish second in the MAC East and reach the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2013, at the time, the program's second bowl appearance. The unit ranked second in the league in interceptions (15), points per game allowed (24.4), and yards per game allowed (382.2). Linguist coached Najja Johnson to first-team all-conference honors and a career total of 38 pass breakups, second in program history. Johnson led the MAC in interceptions the year earlier as part of a Bulls unit that was tops in the conference in pass completion percentage allowed while ranking second in pass defense.
Linguist spent three years at James Madison, helping the program pull in the top FCS recruiting class during the 2012 cycle while the team reached the second round of the NCAA Football Championship Series Playoffs. Linguist's first full-time position was at Valdosta State, working with defensive backs and special teams. The Blazers went 9-3 and earned a No. 12 national ranking in Division II.
Linguist began as a graduate assistant at Baylor, his alma mater, working as a graduate assistant with the strong safeties and rover backs. During his career at Baylor, he was a defensive MVP and honorable mention All-Big 12 selection. He made 24 starts in 42 appearances as a strong safety from 2003-06. A native of Dallas, Texas, Linguist graduated from Baylor with degrees in communications (2006) and a master's in health, human performance and recreation (2007). He was an Academic All-Big 12 honoree.
Linguist and his wife, Stacie, have one daughter, Maura, and one son, Lance.