Jan. 13, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss football coach Ellis Johnson announced Friday the final two assistant coach appointments to his staff with the hiring of tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Joe Judge and the retention of cornerbacks coach Grady Brown.
Brown, who has served as the cornerbacks coach Southern Miss the previous two seasons, will return to mentor a secondary that was among the nation's best in 2011.
Under Brown, Southern Miss was No. 7 nationally in pass efficiency defense (108.47 rating) and set a new NCAA record for interceptions returned for touchdowns with eight. As a unit, the Golden Eagle defense finished the season as a Top-30 defense.
Cornerbacks Deron Wilson and Marquese Wheaton also garnered multiple postseason awards for their play with Wheaton earning a fourth-team All-American nod from Phil Steele. The duo also earned All-Conference honors from the publication with second and first team honors, respectively. Wheaton and Wilson also combined for seven interceptions and 23 pass breakups to go along with three touchdown returns.
Judge comes to Southern Miss after a three-year stint at the University of Alabama as a football analyst under coach Nick Saban. While on the Alabama staff, Judge was a member of two National Championship teams in 2009 and 2011 and assisted with the special teams units. With Judge's assistance, the Crimson Tide ranked No. 14 nationally in punt returns (13.00) and No. 19 in kickoff returns (24.09) this season and were among the nation's elite each of the previous two seasons.
Prior to going to Tuscaloosa, Judge spent a season at Birmingham-Southern where he tutored the linebackers.
Judge's relationship with Johnson began during his playing years at Mississippi State where Johnson served as the defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs.
Judge played for the Bulldogs from 2000-2004, earning three letters and was a member of the 2000 Independence Bowl championship team. He was voted Special Team's Captain and Special Team's Player of the Week and was an Iron Dawg Award recipient. Judge was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll and made the Dean's List.
Following his playing days, he spent three seasons as a graduate assistant under coach Sylvester Croom, assisting in all areas of defense and special teams. During his MSU stint, he tutored one All-Southeastern Conference punter and five All-SEC linebackers and was instrumental in 13 Academic All-SEC selections. His special team's units produced returners ranked fifth in single season return yardage and finished ranked in the top-five in return and kickoff yardage in 2006. Judge's punter moved into the school's top-five in total punts and punt yardage in just two seasons.
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