Naivar joins Kentucky staff

Kentucky officially announced the addition of Craig Naivar to the football coaching staff on Thursday as the Wildcats' new special teams coordinator.

Kentucky officially announced the addition of Craig Naivar to the football coaching staff on Thursday as the Wildcats' new special teams coordinator.

Naivar (pronounced "NI-ver") has been a defensive coordinator or special teams coordinator for the last 15 years, most recently at Texas State for the last three seasons.

"I've gotten to visit with Craig the last couple of years and am very impressed with him," UK head coach Mark Stoops said. "He has vast knowledge, both as a defensive coordinator and as a special teams coordinator. He's a high-energy coach with a great reputation as a recruiter."

Kentucky has made big strides in recruiting the talent-rich Lone Star State since Neal Brown and Chad Scott came to Lexington from Texas Tech.

During his time at Texas State, Naivar helped the Bobcats become the second-fastest team in history to make bowl eligibility after making the move from FCS to FBS status. He also helped produce the 2011 Independent Defensive Player of the Year, defensive lineman Michael Ebbitt. Two of his former Texas State players are currently in the NFL – linebacker Joplo Bartu (Atlanta Falcons) and defensive back Darryl Morris (San Francisco 49ers).

Naivar spent time with current UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot at Texas State from 2004-06. They also coached together at Rice in 2007.

"I'm excited to be part of the Big Blue Nation and such a prestigious university," Naivar said in a statement released by UK. "I was attracted by the opportunity to work with Coach Stoops, the energy he brings and the success he's had everywhere he's been.

"It's also exciting to reunite with Coach Eliot. He is one of the really sharp minds in college football, a great coach and recruiter."

An Austin, Texas, native, Naivar was a four-year letterman at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. He played quarterback and safety while also serving as a team captain.

He and his wife, Michelle, have a daughter, Jordan, and a son, Gunner.

Naivar Coaching File:
Years School Position
1994-95 Hardin-Simmons Special Teams Coordinator
1996-97 New Mexico Graduate Assistant
1998 (spring) TCU Graduate Assistant
1998-99 Southern Illinois Special Teams Coordinator, Defensive Line
2000-01 Sam Houston State Special Teams Coordinator, Defensive Line
2002-03 Sam Houston State Defensive Coordinator, Safeties
2004-06 Texas State Defensive Coordinator, Safeties
2007-09 Rice Co-Defensive Coordinator, Safeties
2010 Rice Special Teams Coordinator, Defensive Line
2011-13 Texas State Defensive Coordinator, Safeties
2014-present Kentucky Special Teams Coordinator, Safeties

Jeff Drummond has covered University of Kentucky sports and recruiting for newspapers, magazines and online publications since 1988 and for Scout since 2012. A Richmond, Ky., native, he currently resides in Lexington.

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