he Seattle Seahawks have undergone a change at defensive coordinator this offseason.
On Jan. 17, Bob Condotta and Adam Jude of The Seattle Times reported the Seahawks fired previous DC Ken Norton Jr. Less than three weeks later, Condotta and Jude reported that the Seahawks planned to promote former defensive line coach Clint Hurtt to defensive coordinator. The Seahawks announced they had finalized their new coaching staff last week.
But Norton wasn’t out of work for long. College football reporter Bruce Feldman reports UCLA expects to hire Norton as the team’s new linebackers coach.
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Ken Norton Jr. Is In the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame
Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times reports Norton was a high school running back, but he converted to linebacker early on during his college career at UCLA. He led UCLA with 106 tackles in 1986 and 125 in 1987. Norton became an All-American and was a finalist for the Butkus Award, which is given annually to the nation’s best linebacker, as a senior in 1987.
In 1998, UCLA inducted Norton into the school’s athletic hall of fame.
Ironically, Norton began his coaching career at his alum mater’s biggest rival — USC — under then Trojans head coach Pete Carroll. Norton served as linebackers coach at USC for six seasons and then followed Carroll to the Seahawks in 2010.
Ken Norton Jr. Brings Lots of NFL Experience to UCLA
As successful as Norton was at UCLA, he was arguably just as good playing in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys selected Norton in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. He became an intricate part of the Cowboys defense that won the Super Bowl during the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
Before becoming a coach at USC, Norton had experience switching sides in a heated rivalry. Norton played for the Cowboys from 1988-93, winning the Super Bowl his final two years in Dallas. In 1994, he joined the San Francisco 49ers, who the Cowboys had beaten in the two previous NFC Championship Games.
Once again, the Cowboys and 49ers met in the NFC Championship following the 1994 season, with San Francisco winning this time. The 49ers capped off the season with a Super Bowl victory, Norton winning his third straight championship.
In 1995, Norton made his only All-Pro team. He played 13 NFL seasons and also made three Pro Bowls.
Norton served as a defensive coach under Carroll in the NFL from 2010-14 and then again from 2018-21. During his first tenure with the Seahawks, Norton was the team’s linebackers coach.
In 2015, Norton became the then Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator. He served in that role for three seasons and then returned to Seattle to become the Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2018.
Over seven seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator, Norton’s units have finished in the top half of the league in yards allowed just once — the 2018 Seahawks. In 2021, Seattle’s defense was 11th in points allowed but 28th in yards allowed, including second-to-last in passing yards allowed.
At UCLA, Norton will be replacing the team’s previous linebackers coach Don Pellum. Sam Connon of Sports Illustrated reports Pellum is expected to leave the program with his contract expiring at the end of February.