The Arizona Wildcats officially added another UA legend to their coaching staff Thursday, naming former All-American safety Chuck Cecil as their defensive backs coach.
The announcement came hours after fellow former All-American Ricky Hunley was hired as the defensive line coach, as it’s clear new head coach Jedd Fisch made it a priority to hire some coaches with UA ties.
Unlike Hunley, Cecil has actually been in the Arizona program the last four years as an analyst except for late in the 2019 season when he was briefly the interim defensive coordinator.
Being a full-time assistant coach means Cecil will get to be hands-on during practices and recruit. NCAA rules prohibit analysts from performing those duties.
“I am very proud to add another college football hall of famer to our staff who bleeds blue and red,” Fisch said in a statement. “Chuck is well known and widely respected throughout the NFL as well as the Tucson community. His addition to our coaching staff will bring decades of elite coaching and playing experience, collegiately and professionally. I know he will have a tremendous impact on our student-athletes by showing them what they can achieve on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”
“The University of Arizona and the Tucson Community is home to me, and I am proud to serve the Wildcat football program and its incredible student-athletes as defensive backs coach,” Cecil said in a statement. “I am grateful to Coach Fisch for the opportunity to work alongside him and the entire UArizona coaching staff as we bring back the grit, toughness and character of Arizona football.”
Here’s some more info on Cecil from the UA news release:
Cecil has spent the last four years with the program as both an interim defensive coordinator and senior defensive analyst. Prior to joining the Wildcats, Cecil served as the senior defensive coach for the Los Angeles Rams (2015-2017). The Rams defense ranked in the top 10 of the NFL during the 2016 season. In 2012, Cecil shared in the Rams defensive coordinator responsibilities and served as the defensive backs coach. The defense improved from 26th (2011) to 14th (2012) while the secondary ranked second for the fewest passing touchdowns in the league in 2014.
In the 2010 and 2009 seasons, Cecil was the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. As the architect of a solid run and pressure-oriented defense, the defense finished the 2009 season ranked 11th overall in the NFL. Tennessee ranked eighth in the league in interceptions (20) and second in interceptions returned for touchdown (4). During his final three years, the Titans defense ranked third in the NFL in interceptions (62) behind only Green Bay and Baltimore.
A veteran secondary coach, Cecil taught and developed a defensive back core that grew into one of the finest secondary units in the league. During the 2008 season as the defensive back coach, three of the four players were invited to the Pro Bowl for the first time in their careers. It was the first time in NFL history that three players from the same secondary represented the team in the Pro Bowl. Overall, they snared 19 interceptions, which ranked second in the NFL. Prior, Cecil coached safeties and nickel backs.
A Pro Bowl Safety, Cecil played seven years in the NFL. Selected by the Green Bay Packers in 1988, Cecil was known as a ferocious player and was featured on the 1993 cover of Sports Illustrated with the title “Is Chuck Cecil Too Vicious for the NFL?” Cecil played seven years in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers (1988-92), Phoenix Cardinals (1993), and Houston Oilers (1995) during which he notched 461 tackles, 16 interceptions, and one touchdown.
One of the most accomplished and decorated players in Arizona Football history, Cecil played for the Wildcats from 1984-87 under head coaches Larry Smith and Dick Tomey. During his collegiate career in Tucson, Cecil tallied 392 total tackles, 21 interceptions, and 38 passes defensed. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. His 106-yard interception return in the 1986 Territorial Cup still stands as the longest interception return in program history and he remains in the program’s top 10 career leaderboards in tackles, interceptions, and pass breakups.
Cecil is married to Carrie Gerlach Cecil, and the duo have one daughter Charli (15), and two dogs.