Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Backs Coach, Alabama Crimson Tide
Mel Tucker was hired by head coach Nick Saban as defensive backs coach and assistant head coach on January 29, 2015. Although it will be his first season with the Crimson Tide, Tucker has worked for Saban at several schools including his first coaching job as a graduate assistant at Michigan State. He brings 10 years of NFL coaching experience – seven as a defensive coordinator – to Alabama as well as eight years in the college ranks.
In his first year at Alabama, Tucker will be faced with replacing three safeties who anchored the secondary last season. All-American Landon Collins led the team with 103 tackles and tied for the lead with three picks. He is expected to be a first round pick in the upcoming draft. Nick Perry was the other starter at safety and was fourth on the team with 80 stops while Jarrick Williams was a physical presence in his role as the nickel back. The only returnee with any significant experience at the position is Geno Smith, who totaled 56 stops to rank fifth on the team in 2014.
It is a different story at corner where both starting corners return, led by senior Cyrus Jones who led the team with 16 passes broken-up (three interceptions). Eddie Jackson started 10 games at corner after returning from a knee injury while Bradley Sylve and Tony Brown are also back with starts under their belt from last season.
Tucker spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. He was previously with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009-12, also as the defensive coordinator. The Jags ranked sixth in the league in total defense in 2011, allowing just 313.0 yards per game. Tucker was Jacksonville’s interim head coach for the final five games of that season. He earned the additional title of assistant head coach with the Jaguars in 2012.
Prior to those two stops, Tucker was with the Cleveland Browns from 2005-08. He spent the first three years as the defensive backs coach and served as the defensive coordinator in 2008. In that season, the Browns were second in the NFL with 23 interceptions and ranked 16th in scoring defense (21.9 points per game).
Tucker joined Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State as a graduate assistant in 1997. After two years there, he then went to work as a defensive backs coach at Miami (Ohio) for one season in 1999. In 2000, Tucker returned to work with Saban at LSU for one season before going to Ohio State for a three-year stint (2001-03). The Buckeyes went 14-0 in 2002 and won the BCS National Championship. Tucker was elevated to co-defensive coordinator in 2004.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Tucker attended Cleveland Heights High School where he was a football standout and earned a scholarship to Wisconsin. He was a four-year letterman at defensive back for the Badgers and graduated in 1995.
Tucker’s wife, JoEllyn, earned her undergraduate degree at Illinois and her law degree from Rutgers. The couple has two sons: Joseph (12) and Christian (10).