UCF Knights Coach Gus Malzahn Hires Orlando Native Kenny Martin as Defensive Assistant Coach

By  //  February 24, 2021

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coached last three seasons for Western Kentucky

Orlando native Kenny Martin, defensive tackle coach the last three seasons for Western Kentucky defenses that ranked among the most productive in the country, has joined Gus Malzahn’s UCF football staff as a defensive assistant coach.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA (UCF Knights) – Orlando native Kenny Martin, defensive tackle coach the last three seasons for Western Kentucky defenses that ranked among the most productive in the country, has joined Gus Malzahn’s UCF football staff as a defensive assistant coach.

A former defensive lineman for the Hilltoppers, Martin first returned to his alma mater in 2016 and worked with the defensive tackle position group the past five seasons.

In 2020 Martin helped the Western Kentucky defense rank eighth in the nation in passing yards allowed (177.3), 28th in total yards allowed (348.7) and 41st in points allowed (25.3) per game.

Among the defensive tackle group, redshirt freshman Ricky Barber was named a Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American. His 58 total tackles tied for fifth among all Football Bowl Subdivision defensive linemen regardless of class. Phil Steele tabbed Barber as an All-Conference USA second-teamer and Jeremy Darvin, the other starting tackle, as a third-teamer.

In 2019 Martin helped mentor his group into one of the most solid positions on the field. Darvin and Jaylon George earned All-Conference USA honorable mention recognition, while Barber was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.

Western Kentucky allowed only 20.1 total points per game, the lowest mark for the program since 2004, to rank 22nd nationally. The Hilltoppers held opponents to a 29.7% rate (51-of-172) on third down (sixth in the FBS) and ranked third in the FBS with only 82 missed tackles. Western Kentucky was 24th in total defense at 335.5 yards allowed per game.

In 2018 Martin’s work developed George into one of the top defensive tackles in Conference USA as an all-conference selection by Pro Football Focus. In 2017, senior Chris Johnson earned all-Conference USA honorable mention accolades after leading all defenders in quarterback hurries from his tackle position.

In 2016, Martin helped senior Keith Brown set a single-season record for total tackles with 131 en route to earning All-Conference USA first-team honors along with Pro Football Focus second-team All-America recognition.

The Hilltoppers finished the campaign with the second-ranked rushing defense, surrendering just 97.2 yards per game. Western Kentucky also led the conference in scoring defense as it won a second consecutive league championship (under head coach Jeff Brohm, now at Purdue) and third consecutive bowl game.

A four-year letterman for Western Kentucky, Martin started 42 games from 2009-12 and was a member of the Hilltoppers’ first FBS bowl team in the 2012 Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl.

As a coach, Martin helped Western Kentucky participate in the 2016 Boca Raton Bowl (won 51-31 over Memphis), 2017 Cure Bowl, 2019 First Responder Bowl (won 23-20 over Western Michigan) and 2020 LendingTree Bowl.

Prior to returning to Western Kentucky, Martin was the defensive line coach at the University of Virginia-Wise in 2015. Martin also served as the defensive coordinator at Warren Central High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2014. He got his start in coaching as the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at his former high school, Ocoee High School, in Orlando in 2013.

Martin is a 2012 Western Kentucky graduate. He and his wife, the former Tasha Babb, have a daughter, Khloe, and son, Tre.

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