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Steve Wilks
Defensive Coordinator
College:
Appalachian State
Experience:
12

Bio

COACHING
Steve Wilks brings continuity and familiarity in his first year as the Panthers' defensive coordinator in 2017 after being promoted when Sean McDermott was named head coach of the Buffalo Bills following the 2016 season. Wilks transitions to his new role from secondary coach, a position he held for five seasons from 2012-16, and assistant head coach, where he helped head coach Ron Rivera with day-to-day operations from 2015-16.

Developing young talent has been a trademark of Wilks in his five seasons with Carolina, and 2016 was no different. Second-round draft choice James Bradberry and third-round draft choice Daryl Worley emerged as the team's starting cornerbacks. Bradberry recorded 11 passes defensed to become the first rookie to lead the Panthers in passes defensed since 2012, and Worley finished second on the team with 10 passes defensed. Safety Kurt Coleman led the team in interceptions for the second consecutive year with four as Wilks' secondary helped the Panthers tie for the NFC lead with 17 interceptions.

In 2015, Wilks' secondary was instrumental in helping the Panthers advance to Super Bowl 50 and lead the NFL in interceptions (24), total takeaways (39) and turnover differential (plus-20). Despite injuries to several defensive backs, Carolina limited opposing quarterbacks to an NFL-low 73.5 passer rating and ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense – the team's fourth consecutive top-10 finish. Coleman tied for third in the NFL with seven interceptions, the second most in team history, and returned one for a touchdown. Cornerback Josh Norman earned first-team All-Pro honors and was selected to the Pro Bowl after recording 15 passes defensed and four interceptions, including two pick-sixes.

In 2014, Wilks' secondary helped the Panthers rank 10th in the NFL in total defense. In Carolina's 27-16 NFC Wild Card win over Arizona, the secondary contributed two interceptions to a defense that limited the Cardinals to an NFL postseason record 78 net yards.

During the 2013 season, Wilks directed a unit that helped the Panthers finish second in the NFL in total defense and sixth in passing defense. Defensive backs were responsible for 16 interceptions, including a team-record four returned for touchdowns. Carolina also limited opponents to an 81.4 passer rating, which ranked 10th in the NFL. Safety Mike Mitchell was one of two players in the NFL with at least four interceptions, three sacks and two forced fumbles, and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned his only two interceptions for touchdowns.

Despite dealing with injuries throughout the season in 2012, the pass defense under Wilks improved from 24th in 2011 to 13th en route to a ranking of 10th in total defense. The secondary propelled the Panthers to a first-place finish in the NFL in average yards after catch, allowed the third fewest pass plays of 20 or more yards and returned three interceptions for touchdowns.

Wilks, a Charlotte native, returned home from the San Diego Chargers, where he oversaw the secondary from 2009-11. He added the assistant head coach title in 2011. Prior to Wilks' arrival, San Diego ranked 31st in the NFL against the pass but stood 11th in 2009, first in 2010 and 13th in 2011. In 2010, Wilks and then San Diego defensive coordinator Rivera formed a formidable duo when the Chargers led the NFL in total defense and pass defense. San Diego limited opponents to a 76.2 passer rating, fourth lowest in the league, and surrendered 18 touchdown passes, fifth fewest in the NFL.

Wilks came to San Diego after three seasons as defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears. From 2006-08, cornerbacks and safeties accounted for 42 of the team's 62 interceptions, including 16 in 2006 when Chicago - with Rivera as defensive coordinator - led the NFL with 44 takeaways and advanced to Super Bowl XLI. The Bears' defensive backs also forced 20 fumbles during Wilks' tenure, the most in the NFL in that span.

Before joining the Bears, Wilks coached 11 seasons on the college level, working as a defensive backs coach, defensive coordinator and head coach. He went to Washington as defensive backs coach in 2005 from Notre Dame, where he helped the Irish earn a bowl bid in his only season in 2004.

Previously, Wilks was the defensive backs coach at Bowling Green State University in 2003 and was co-defensive coordinator at East Tennessee State in 2002. He also had one-year stints as the defensive backs coach at Appalachian State in 2001 and Illinois State in 2000.

Wilks was head coach at Savannah State in 1999, steering the team to a 5-6 record, after serving as the team's defensive coordinator from 1997-98. In 1998, Wilks earned Division II defensive coordinator of the year as the Tigers led the nation in total defense. Wilks began his coaching career as defensive coordinator at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte in 1995.

PLAYING AND PERSONAL
A product of West Charlotte High School, Wilks played defensive back at Appalachian State from 1987-91 and finished his career with 103 tackles, four interceptions and four blocked kicks. He attended training camp with the Seattle Seahawks in 1992 and played defensive back and wide receiver for the Charlotte Rage of the Arena Football League in 1993. Wilks graduated from Appalachian State with a degree in communications.

HISTORY
Defensive back: Appalachian State 1987-91. Pro defensive back/wide receiver: Charlotte Rage (AFL) 1993. College coach: Johnson C. Smith 1995-96, Savannah State 1997-99 (head coach 1999), Illinois State 2000, Appalachian State 2001, East Tennessee State 2002, Bowling Green State University 2003, Notre Dame 2004, Washington 2005. Pro coach: Chicago Bears 2006-08, San Diego Chargers 2009-11, joined Panthers in 2012.

COACHING
Steve Wilks brings continuity and familiarity in his first year as the Panthers' defensive coordinator in 2017 after being promoted when Sean McDermott was named head coach of the Buffalo Bills following the 2016 season. Wilks transitions to his new role from secondary coach, a position he held for five seasons from 2012-16, and assistant head coach, where he helped head coach Ron Rivera with day-to-day operations from 2015-16.

Developing young talent has been a trademark of Wilks in his five seasons with Carolina, and 2016 was no different. Second-round draft choice James Bradberry and third-round draft choice Daryl Worley emerged as the team's starting cornerbacks. Bradberry recorded 11 passes defensed to become the first rookie to lead the Panthers in passes defensed since 2012, and Worley finished second on the team with 10 passes defensed. Safety Kurt Coleman led the team in interceptions for the second consecutive year with four as Wilks' secondary helped the Panthers tie for the NFC lead with 17 interceptions.

In 2015, Wilks' secondary was instrumental in helping the Panthers advance to Super Bowl 50 and lead the NFL in interceptions (24), total takeaways (39) and turnover differential (plus-20). Despite injuries to several defensive backs, Carolina limited opposing quarterbacks to an NFL-low 73.5 passer rating and ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense – the team's fourth consecutive top-10 finish. Coleman tied for third in the NFL with seven interceptions, the second most in team history, and returned one for a touchdown. Cornerback Josh Norman earned first-team All-Pro honors and was selected to the Pro Bowl after recording 15 passes defensed and four interceptions, including two pick-sixes.

In 2014, Wilks' secondary helped the Panthers rank 10th in the NFL in total defense. In Carolina's 27-16 NFC Wild Card win over Arizona, the secondary contributed two interceptions to a defense that limited the Cardinals to an NFL postseason record 78 net yards.

During the 2013 season, Wilks directed a unit that helped the Panthers finish second in the NFL in total defense and sixth in passing defense. Defensive backs were responsible for 16 interceptions, including a team-record four returned for touchdowns. Carolina also limited opponents to an 81.4 passer rating, which ranked 10th in the NFL. Safety Mike Mitchell was one of two players in the NFL with at least four interceptions, three sacks and two forced fumbles, and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned his only two interceptions for touchdowns.

Despite dealing with injuries throughout the season in 2012, the pass defense under Wilks improved from 24th in 2011 to 13th en route to a ranking of 10th in total defense. The secondary propelled the Panthers to a first-place finish in the NFL in average yards after catch, allowed the third fewest pass plays of 20 or more yards and returned three interceptions for touchdowns.

Wilks, a Charlotte native, returned home from the San Diego Chargers, where he oversaw the secondary from 2009-11. He added the assistant head coach title in 2011. Prior to Wilks' arrival, San Diego ranked 31st in the NFL against the pass but stood 11th in 2009, first in 2010 and 13th in 2011. In 2010, Wilks and then San Diego defensive coordinator Rivera formed a formidable duo when the Chargers led the NFL in total defense and pass defense. San Diego limited opponents to a 76.2 passer rating, fourth lowest in the league, and surrendered 18 touchdown passes, fifth fewest in the NFL.

Wilks came to San Diego after three seasons as defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears. From 2006-08, cornerbacks and safeties accounted for 42 of the team's 62 interceptions, including 16 in 2006 when Chicago - with Rivera as defensive coordinator - led the NFL with 44 takeaways and advanced to Super Bowl XLI. The Bears' defensive backs also forced 20 fumbles during Wilks' tenure, the most in the NFL in that span.

Before joining the Bears, Wilks coached 11 seasons on the college level, working as a defensive backs coach, defensive coordinator and head coach. He went to Washington as defensive backs coach in 2005 from Notre Dame, where he helped the Irish earn a bowl bid in his only season in 2004.

Previously, Wilks was the defensive backs coach at Bowling Green State University in 2003 and was co-defensive coordinator at East Tennessee State in 2002. He also had one-year stints as the defensive backs coach at Appalachian State in 2001 and Illinois State in 2000.

Wilks was head coach at Savannah State in 1999, steering the team to a 5-6 record, after serving as the team's defensive coordinator from 1997-98. In 1998, Wilks earned Division II defensive coordinator of the year as the Tigers led the nation in total defense. Wilks began his coaching career as defensive coordinator at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte in 1995.

PLAYING AND PERSONAL
A product of West Charlotte High School, Wilks played defensive back at Appalachian State from 1987-91 and finished his career with 103 tackles, four interceptions and four blocked kicks. He attended training camp with the Seattle Seahawks in 1992 and played defensive back and wide receiver for the Charlotte Rage of the Arena Football League in 1993. Wilks graduated from Appalachian State with a degree in communications.

HISTORY
Defensive back: Appalachian State 1987-91. Pro defensive back/wide receiver: Charlotte Rage (AFL) 1993. College coach: Johnson C. Smith 1995-96, Savannah State 1997-99 (head coach 1999), Illinois State 2000, Appalachian State 2001, East Tennessee State 2002, Bowling Green State University 2003, Notre Dame 2004, Washington 2005. Pro coach: Chicago Bears 2006-08, San Diego Chargers 2009-11, joined Panthers in 2012.