After three seasons as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Texas Longhorns, Jeff Choate was announced as the new head coach of the Nevada Wolfpack on Monday.
“I am incredibly pleased to introduce Jeff Choate as the next head football coach at the University of Nevada. Jeff has coached with and developed under the tutelage of some of the best football minds in the game. His style and vision fit everything we believe will build Wolf Pack Football back into a championship-caliber program,” said Nevada athletics director Stephanie Rempe. “Whether as a head coach or an assistant, Jeff has continually developed programs and student athletes into champions throughout his career. We are excited to welcome the Choate family to Reno and the Northern Nevada community.”
It’s the second head coaching job for the 53-year-old Choate, who posted a 30-22 record at Montana State from 2016-20, including an 11-4 record and trip to the FCS semifinals in 2019 before joining Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian’s staff in 2021.
“Becoming the head coach at an FBS program has always been my dream. Along my journey, I’ve been fortunate to work with some exceptional individuals — players, coaches, and mentors — whose influence has shaped me both as a person and a coach. I owe a heartfelt thank you to my family for their unwavering support; they have been my anchor through every climb and challenge,” said Choate.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Choate went to high school in Idaho and played linebacker at Montana Western, coaching the position for Bulldogs for two seasons before entering the high school ranks. When Choate returned to college football, it was as a graduate assistant at Utah State in 2002 prior to coaching stints at Eastern Illinois, Boise State, Washington State, Florida, and Washington.
At Texas, Choate helped the Longhorns defense lead the Big 12 in rushing defense (80.8 ypg, third in the country), red-zone defense (71.4 percent, fourth in the country), scoring defense (17.5 points per game, 13th in the country), and total defense (321.7 yards per game, 23rd in the country) this season on the way to a 12-1 record, conference title, and appearance in the College Football Playoffs.
According to a statement from Sarkisian released by the school, Choate will remain in his role as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach through the playoffs.
“I’m so happy for Coach Choate and his opportunity to lead the program at Nevada,” said Sarkisian. “He’s a tremendous coach, such a high-energy guy, and is passionate about the players. He has tons of experience, all the traits you want in a head coach, is a tremendous leader in every way, and will do great things for Wolf Pack Football. We’re so grateful for everything he did for Texas and are excited that he’s going to continue to coach with us through the CFP.”
Since Texas isn’t practice again until Dec. 15, Choate will remain in Reno putting in some “long days” establishing his presence at a program that went 4-20 under former head coach Ken Wilson, who was fired on Friday after two seasons.
“How many times are you going to get to play for a national championship? It’s not really about me. It’s about providing consistency for the players on the defensive side of the ball so that when we go to install meetings or we go to practice, the rhythm of their day is the same. The balancing act is really going to be once we start bowl practices,” said Choate during his introductory press conference.
In three seasons with the Longhorns, Choate helped develop former safety DeMarvion Overshown into a third-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys at linebacker last year in addition to guiding Jaylan Ford to one of the best years for a linebacker program history — Ford earned All-American and All-Big 12 honors after totaling a career-high 119 tackles (61 solo), 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and four interceptions. Ford’s 119 tackles were the most by a Texas player since 2014 while his four interceptions tied Derrick Johnson’s single-season school record for a linebacker.
In 2023, Choate helped land an elite linebacker class led by Denton Ryan product Anthony Hill, the nation’s No. 17 overall player and No. 1 linebacker, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. A flip from Texas A&M, Hill became the eighth Texas player to earn Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors by recording 63 tackles (38 solo), 7.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, four quarterback hurries, and two pass breakups.
Choate is the second Texas assistant under Sarkisian to land a head coaching job, joining former running backs coach Stan Drayton, who was hired by Temple two years ago.