Georgia Southern Football Adds Clifford Yoshida as Defensive Line Coach
STATESBORO, Ga. -- Building defensive systems as the coordinator at eight collegiate programs, Clifford Yoshida’s career spans more than four decades, service at more than 12 schools, and has resulted in untold influence upon hundreds of coaching colleagues and student-athletes. With experience in all areas of the defense, Yoshida joins the Georgia Southern Football coaching staff as defensive line coach.
“Cliff Yoshida is one of the most knowledgeable defensive coaches in the nation and he brings a background of more than 40 years of coaching to Georgia Southern along with his experience as a Marine Corps officer,” said Eagle Head Coach Jeff Monken. “We are thrilled that Coach Yoshida has accepted a position with us, and I know he will have a tremendous impact on the lives of our young men and the future success of our program.”
The coordinator and line coach at Grambling State from 2007-2012, Yoshida helped prepare a defensive unit that worked to disrupt its opponents and those efforts added more hardware to the trophy cases of the storied program. The Tigers won their 14th black college football national championship and two Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) titles in 2008 and 2011 while contending for a third during those six years.
During the 2011 championship run, defense played a key role as the Tigers reeled off seven straight victories and recovered a fumble for the winning touchdown in the title game versus Alabama A&M. Yoshida’s 2010 Tiger defense was ranked 20th nationally in scoring defense and 19th in defending the rush as Grambling went 9-2. Defensive tackle Jomarcus Savage and linebacker Cliff Exama gained the attention of opponents as ambassadors of Yoshida’s disciplined, but aggressive defense.
Yoshida also tutored the SWAC’s best defensive player in Christian Anthony in 2009 as the dominant end was third in both sacks and tackles for loss and ranked among the nation’s top players. The 2008 defense improved upon already impressive rankings in total and scoring defense from the year before, holding its opponents to only 170 points (13.07 per game), the lowest Tiger total allowed since 1985. Two early losses, one at the hands of Colin Kaepernick and Nevada and other to Northwestern State, with co-defensive coordinators Jack Curtis and Kevin Corless, were the only marks on that 11-win conference and black national college football championship campaign.
After the 2006 season, Yoshida left North Carolina Central for Grambling State with Coach Rod Broadway to again serve in the defensive coordinator’s role. In four years with NCCU as D.C., he helped turn around a program that had limited success into one that posted double-digit wins for the first, and second time ever, and won the black college national football championship in 2006.
The defensive coordinator at Towson while current Eagle cornerbacks coach Orlando Mitjans, Jr., served on the Tigers’ staff, Yoshida spent one year with the program before accepting the defensive coordinator position at North Carolina Central. Yoshida added the North Carolina recruiting area to his responsibilities the year before when he became associate head coach and defensive coordinator for North Carolina A&T in 2002.
Yoshida was part of five bowl games and an emotional 1999 season during his eight years at East Carolina from 1994-2001. The Pirates racked up postseason wins over Texas Tech and Stanford, but one of the most memorable victories may have been a come-from-behind upset of No. 9 Miami in Raleigh after Hurricane Floyd flooded much of the eastern half of the state. The Pirates picked up signature wins over West Virginia and N.C. State that season, running off five straight to rise as high as 16th in the Associated Press poll.
The 1996 ECU team had made a mark on Miami once before as well, posting a 31-6 win over the Hurricanes, their worst loss in the Orange Bowl in 12 seasons. Yoshida guided the defensive line from for the six years from 1994-99 before taking over the responsibilities as ECU’s recruiting coordinator for two additional seasons.
Prior to joining East Carolina as the Pirates’ defensive line coach, Yoshida was the defensive coordinator with responsibilities for the defensive line at Southern University. In the 1993 season, the Jaguar defense helped propel the team to an 11-1 record, a first-ever Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship and the program’s first black college football national championship since 1960.
At Duke, Yoshida showed his versatility, coaching the defensive line in his first two years, then working with the defensive backfield in 1980 before his promotion to defensive coordinator for the 1981 season. He then joined Coach Bill Dooley’s Virginia Tech staff, coaching the defensive line for five seasons, and helped build success in Blacksburg, Va. The final season with the Hokies in 1986 culminated with a 10-1-1 record, including a bowl win over N.C. State, and a national ranking.
Yoshida returned to Wake Forest in 1987 with Coach Bill Dooley, and spent six years on the coaching staff as defensive line coach. During that tenure, the Demon Deacons produced the most wins since the coaching days of legend D.C. “Peahead” Walker (1937-50). The 1992 Wake team, which included current Georgia Southern Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein, beat Oregon in dramatic fourth-quarter fashion in the Independence Bowl to cap an 8-4 season and earn a top-25 ranking in the final polls.
A position as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Wake brought Yoshida back to the East Coast once before. His first stay in Winston-Salem lasted from 1973-78 after he had spent his early coaching years at Utah State and his alma mater, California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, Calif. Yoshida lettered for three years with the Broncos at guard and linebacker and earned team MVP honors as a senior. He was honored as the Cal Poly Pomona Athlete of the Year at the end of that academic year.
After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education, Yoshida continued with graduate studies and then joined the United States Marine Corps. Attaining the rank of captain, Yoshida was a platoon and company commander, serving his country for five years. He also played at offensive guard for the Quantico Marines Football team.
A number of Yoshida’s former student-athletes have gone on to professional football careers, with several recognized for their accomplishments on the field. Bruce Smith, the winner of the 1984 Outland Trophy at Virginia Tech, was the top pick of the Buffalo Bills and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Smith, Michael McCrary (Baltimore Ravens/Wake Forest), and Rod Coleman (Atlanta Falcons/East Carolina) all earned All-Pro honors and were Pro Bowl selections.
Four of those men, McCrary (Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XXXV),DeVone Claybrooks (Tampa Bay, Super Bowl XXXVII/East Carolina), Jay Williams (St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXIV/Wake Forest) and Walter Scott (Green Bay, Super Bowl XXXI/East Carolina) have the distinguished honor of winning Super Bowl Rings. Smith, along with Coleman (Oakland) and Jason Banks (Arizona) were on conference championship teams, but did not come away with a ring.
Current Oakland Raiders defensive line coach Terrell Williams, and Dwayne Ledford, the Co-Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line coach at Appalachian State, both of whom played for Yoshida at East Carolina, established coaching careers after their playing days were complete.
Yoshida is a widower with two sons, Christopher and Alexander.
Georgia Southern Athletics provides up-to-date information on all its sports through its official website, GSEagles.com, through social media channels facebook.com/GSAthletics and twitter.com/GSAthletics, and its "Eagles GATA" mobile app for Android and iOS.
- Category: Football
- Published on Sunday, 31 December 1899 19:00