Tucker adds Ross Els as special teams coordinator, William Peagler as running backs coach

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Mel Tucker is closing in on completing his staff at Michigan State after announcing the hiring of two more assistant coaches on Monday, both coming from Colorado to join their boss.

Ross Els was named special teams coordinator while William Peagler has been tabbed as the Spartans’ running backs coach. Els is a 30-year coaching veteran and spent the last three seasons as the inside linebackers coach at Colorado, adding the duties of special teams coordinator under Tucker in 2019.

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker

“Ross has been a Power Five defensive coordinator and does an excellent job with special teams,” Tucker said in a statement. “His attention to detail is outstanding and he’s a great teacher. He also develops great relationships with his players, which makes him a great recruiter as well. His experience will definitely help our staff.”

Peagler, 34, was the director of quality control for the offense last season at Colorado and has been coaching in college for the past 10 seasons.

“William has an excellent understanding of offensive concepts,” Tucker said. “He really gets it. He also has experience working with (offensive coordinator) Jay Johnson, and has been at some high-level programs, including Clemson and Georgia. He’s a multi-talented coach and I think he is a rising star.”

The hiring of Els and Peagler come as Tucker has been on the job nearly two weeks, taking over for Mark Dantonio, who stepped down after 13 seasons as Michigan State’s winningest coach.

Will Peagler

Tucker has now hired nine full-time, on-field assistant coaches with only a defensive coordinator left. In addition to Monday’s hires, Tucker has brought in on offense — Jay Johnson (coordinator), Chris Kapilovic (offensive line/run game coordinator), Ted Gilmore (tight ends) and Courtney Hawkins (wide receivers). On defense, Tucker kept Mike Tressel (TBA) and Ron Burton (defensive line) from Dantonio’s staff as well as bringing back Harlon Barnett (defensive backs), a former MSU staffer that was the defensive coordinator at Florida State last season.

Tucker has also hired some support staff, including Geoff Martzen as director of player personnel, Cody Cox as director of football operations, and former MSU linebacker Darien Harris as director of player engagement.

Els, who began his career as a graduate assistant at Northern Iowa in 1989, has experience coaching in the Big Ten. He was the linebackers coach at Nebraska in 2011 and added special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator to his responsibilities at Nebraska from 2012-14. He also served as defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Purdue in 2016.

This will be the fourth time Peagler has been on the same staff with offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, also working with Johnson at Colorado, Minnesota and Louisiana.

Before coming to Colorado, Peagler was the director of player personnel and quality control coordinator at Louisiana in 2018 when the Ragin Cajuns won the Sun Belt West Division title and earned a berth into the AutoNation Cure Bowl.

During Georgia’s run to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in 2017, Peagler served as a graduate assistant for the Bulldogs, working with the offensive line.

In 2016, Peagler served as an assistant in quality control for the offense at Minnesota, focusing on the offensive line. He’s also served as a community college and high school coach after his first stint at Louisiana from 2011-13.


Twitter: @mattcharboneau