New Bowling Green football coach Mike Jinks, who guided Steele to a state title in 2010 before moving on to a three-year stint at Texas Tech, has hired UTSA assistant coach Perry Eliano as his defensive coordinator, Jinks confirmed to Kens5.com late Tuesday night.
Eliano, who was a senior at Killeen Ellison when Jinks started his coaching career there in 1995, has coached the Roadrunners' safeties and special teams since their first season in 2011.
The Bowling Green athletic department confirmed Jinks' hiring on its official Twitter account earlier Tuesday night, but Jinks had not yet commented to the media before he spoke to Kens5.com. The athletic department posted a photo of Jinks next to the Falcons' logo with the message: "Welcome to Bowling Green State University Coach Jinks & Family."
"I am unbelievably excited," Jinks, 43, told Kens5.com. "I feel so blessed to have this opportunity. I promise you we'll play inspired football. I guarantee you I'm going to dig in old-school style. I know that if I do that, good things can come from all the hard work."
Jinks will succeed Dino Babers, who coached at Bowling Green for two seasons before resigning last week to become head coach at Syracuse. Bowling Green State University is in Bowling Green, Ohio.
A 1990 Judson High School graduate, Jinks has coached running backs at Texas Tech for the last three seasons and was promoted to associate head coach in January.
Bowling Green athletic director Chris Kingston and other university officials flew to Lubbock earlier this week to meet with Jinks.
"Chris Kingston is one of the up-and-coming athletic directors in the country," Jinks said. "He's very aggressive. He sees what he wants and goes out and gets it. He has a vision of where he wants Bowling Green to be. All this was supposed to happen this Saturday, but everything's been expedited by four days. Everything moved pretty fast."
Jinks said he is flying from Lubbock to Bowling Green, Ohio, on Wednesday morning, and that a news conference formally announcing his hiring is scheduled for noon Thursday.
Jinks and Eliano will hit the recruiting trail immediately, Jinks said.
"My first year in coaching was Perry's senior year at Ellison," Jinks said. "I coached quarterbacks and he played safety for us. He was like a quarterback back there. He was verbal and bought into everything we did. I know what I'm getting in Perry. He's going to skyrocket. I'm just hoping to hold onto him for a couple of years."
Bowling Green (10-3) won the Mid-American Conference title this season and plays Georgia Southern in the GoDaddy Bowl on Dec. 23 in Mobile, Ala.
The remaining coaching staff will coach the Falcons for the bowl game, Jinks said.
"I'll fly up there and make a cameo appearance," he said.
Jinks said he has committed to continue coaching Tech's running backs until after the Red Raiders play LSU in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 29 in Houston.
"I'm doing this because I love Kliff and I want to coach one more game with him," Jinks said, referring to Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who hired him. "I'll split time between coaching for the Texas Bowl and recruiting. I am so grateful to Kliff for the opportunity he gave me to go into college coaching."
Jinks joined Kingsbury's staff at Tech as running backs coach in January 2013. He went went 76-18 in seven varsity seasons at Steele, which played a junior-varsity schedule when it opened in 2005, and was 43-4 in his last three years.
Jinks played quarterback at Judson for three seasons under high school coaching legend D.W. Rutledge and continued his football career at Angelo State, where he also played quarterback.
"I'm real excited for him and really proud of him," said Rutledge, who is executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association. "He does such a great job and handles himself so well. He's a quality guy. There's no doubt about it. They got 'em a good one, I promise you that.
"He's always had a great personality. He just has the ability to get along with everybody. He has great leadership qualities and people skills. He played for us as a sophomore, which back then was real rare. Even back then, he was a guy that people gravitated toward."
Steele won the Class 5A Division II state championship in 2010, and reached the finals in the same division the following year. Jinks' last team finished 14-1, losing to Katy in the state semifinals.
Jinks made history as the first African American coach to lead a team from the San Antonio area to a University Interscholastic League football state championship.
The son of an Army sergeant, Jinks was born in Killeen. He attended Cole Junior-Senior High School at Fort Sam Houston until he transferred to Judson before his freshman year.
Jinks began his coaching career in 1995 at Killeen Ellison under former East Central coach Robert Walker, who he met while waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant in San Angelo. Jinks coached at Ellison for two years until returning Judson in 1997 as an assistant under Rutledge.
Jinks coached at Judson for only one season before moving on to stints as an assistant at Austin Crockett, Houston Galena Park and Lee, and taking his first-head coaching job at Burbank in 2004. He coached the Bulldogs for only one season before being hired as Steele's first head coach when Steele opened.
"Mike just does a good job of communicating with his players and his coaches," Rutledge said. "I think that's a real key for a head coach."
Jinks said he talked to Rutledge before taking the Bowling Green job.
"I really value his opinion," Jinks said. "Everything I'm saying are my own words, but they were taught to me by D.W. Rutledge. He's been like a surrogate father to me. I could never thank him enough."