Prepare for landing
Tim DeRuyter arrives from the Air Force looking to overhaul defense
Published: Friday, April 16, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07
There are a lot of emotions involved with leaving a place you've known most of your adult life. The nervousness of what's on the other side blends with the optimism of a new challenge and different environment, coming together into a general excitement.
Tim DeRuyter, 47, is experiencing all of these emotions as he settles into Texas A&M after spending nearly 20 of the last 30 years in the Air Force.
DeRuyter's Air Force journey began in 1981, when he was accepted into the Air Force Academy after graduating from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif. From 1982 to 1984, he lettered at outside linebacker and was a part of three bowl victories at Air Force.
Despite all of that, DeRuyter doesn't consider himself a particularly good football player.
"Well there's a reason I'm a good coach, because I wasn't a very good player," DeRuyter said. "I had to know the game pretty well to get a chance on the field. I was kind of ornery and played with a lot of enthusiasm, and that's how I want our guys to play."
After graduation until 1995, DeRuyter stayed in the Air Force.
"For five years of [my seven and a half years], I was a football coach at the Air Force Academy. I got a chance to be a graduate assistant for a year, then I came back for four years as a captain in the Air Force and was a full time military coach. I worked for almost three years in Boston at Hanscom Air Force Base. I was a contract negotiator and bought things for the Air Force. So not a typical Air Force career, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time."
DeRuyter left for the defensive coordinator position at Ohio University in 1995, coaching there until 1998, before moving to Navy. His stint at Navy as secondary coach lasted until 2001, when he returned to Ohio in the same capacity he had in his first go-around with the team. The Ohio defense, ranked 99th the year before DeRuyter took over, finished 22nd in the nation when he departed for Nevada in 2005. As co-defensive coordinator for the Wolfpack, the defense improved from 78th the year before DeRuyter arrived to 48th upon his exit following the 2006 season.
The next three seasons, DeRuyter worked on developing a 3-4 defense that could contain the diverse offensive schemes in the college football game. When DeRuyter arrived, the Falcon defense ranked 78th in the country. In 2009, as defensive coordinator and associate head coach, the Air Force defense stood at 11th in the nation.
At A&M, however, the defense was less than sturdy, finishing last in the Big 12 and 105th overall with 426.31 yards allowed per game. After the Aggies 44-20 loss to Georgia in the Independence Bowl, Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines resigned.
The Aggies also invited Boise State defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to come to College Station, but on Jan. 21, it was announced DeRuyter would be the man to replace Kines.
"Coach Kines is a legend," DeRuyter said. "He's coached at a lot of places and has probably forgotten more football than I know."
The decision to leave Colorado Springs, Colo. for College Station was one that did not come overnight and took a lot of discussion with his wife Kara and two children.
"[The decision] was extremely tough," DeRuyter said. "It has a strong place in my heart, and it was hard leaving, but it was very easy to come to Aggieland. I talked to my family for a long time and prayed about it, and the bottom line was I got to come to a special place and even though it was tough, the strength of coming here overcame that.
"[Texas A&M] is a huge selling point. When you think of college football, this is one of the marquee programs. And to get a chance to be a coordinator here and work with Coach Sherman and get a chance to learn from him, I just thought it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up professionally."
DeRuyter won't be the only one adjusting. The Aggie defense, which ran a 4-3 under Kines, has moved to DeRuyter's 3-4.
"Our corners and safeties are going to be similar, but we're now running four linebackers versus three and we have a nose tackle as opposed to two defensive tackles," DeRuyter said. "It's all different."
DeRuyter said the players were adjusting to the 3-4 well. "There's always a transition period where you're teaching a new language and the techniques are slightly different, so you have guys thinking a little bit more than just reacting, and we're in that phase right now. But by the end of spring ball, they'll stop thinking and start reacting, and we'll start playing at the speed we need to."
One player DeRuyter is excited to work with is Von Miller, who will be lined up at the "Joker" position. The Joker is much like the "Jack" position used by Kines in 2009, in which Miller will line up as an end in four-man fronts, and move to outside linebacker in the 3-4 packages.
"The thing I like about Von is he has the ability to do it all," DeRuyter said. "And when you have a hybrid athlete like that, you can tend to put a strain on an offense because they have to account for him all the time."
There is not a lot of off-time for DeRuyter, but he said he tries to spend as much of it as he can with his family.
"Right now, there's not a lot of ‘off the job,' but most of the time is just spent with our family," DeRuyter said. "My son and daughter play sports and so we go to a lot of their games. When we have vacation time, we go back to see our families."
Thus far, DeRuyter and his family have enjoyed the College Station experience. The family has yet to find a permanent residence, but that has not dampened their spirits.
"[The family]'s doing great," DeRuyter said. "My son's a junior and my daughter's a freshman at A&M Consolidated and they both love it here. They think that being in a place where football's this big is pretty neat. My wife has met so many great people here and she thoroughly loves it too."