Elko continues to fill out his staff
Texas A&M coach Mike Elko has made some major additions to his staff Tuesday, picking up members of his team at Duke to join him in College Station.
Multiple sources indicate that Elko has hired Derek Miller to serve as his director of player personnel, Adam Cushing to serve as the offensive line coach and Ishmael Aristide to serve as a defensive backs coach. All three served in similar roles at Duke in 2023.
The three join Sean Spencer, who had already been hired as the defensive line coach, on the A&M staff.
Miller, who was with Elko for his entire two-year stint at Duke, joined the Blue Devils as the program’s general manager after a year as the director of player personnel at East Carolina. He held both roles for a year at Bowling Green before moving to ECU.
Miller does have SEC experience, spending 13 months as the assistant director of player personnel at LSU from 2017 to 2018. He was on campus as the Tigers assembled one of the best college football teams in recent memory, which won the 2019 national championship.
Before arriving at LSU, Miller served in a similar capacity at USC.
Cushing spent three years in Durham after a three-year stint as the head coach at Eastern Illinois, but his work as the longtime offensive line coach at Northwestern is what he is best known for. He was on the staff as the Wildcats enjoyed their best stretch in program history, going to 10 bowls in 14 years.
His offensive line blocked for five 1,000-yard rusher at Northwestern and protected Clayton Thorson, who ended his career holding program records for passing yards and completions and being second in total yards. Cushing coached seven All-Big 10 offensive linemen and eight future NFL players, including first-round pick Rashawn Slater.
During Duke’s 9-4 season in 2022 under Elko, the Blue Devils were first in the ACC in both sacks and tackles for loss allowed. They were 31st nationally in scoring, averaging 32.8 points per game.
Cushing’s first season in Durham was under David Cutcliffe, but he still had two All-SEC offensive lineman on a very bad team. One of them, tackle Graham Barton, became an All-American in 2022. In spite of the issues Duke had offensively after quarterback Riley Leonard got hurt, the Blue Devils were still second in the ACC in sacks and tackles for loss allowed in 2023.
Aristide, who will likely coach cornerbacks, is no stranger to A&M. He served with Elko under Jimbo Fisher as a defensive analyst from 2019 to 2020 before taking an on-the-field role at Miami.
He joined the Duke staff in 2022 and made a quick impact, helping turn around a defense that was 130th nationally the year before. The Blue Devils were first nationally in fumbles received, second in turnover margin and ninth in turnovers gained in 2022. Aristide also helped coach defensive back Chandler Rivers to a Freshman All-American nod that year.
The numbers weren’t as good for the Blue Devils’ defense in 2023, but they were still 21st nationally in scoring defense and 13th in red zone defense.
Aristide was known for his recruiting chops during his time at A&M, helping the Aggies land several big names in south Florida.