Smith returns to defensive staff for CU
Monday, March 11, 2019
Smith returns to defensive staff for CU
Taurean Smith returns to Cumberland after spending five seasons at Kentucky Wesleyan, the last year as Interim Head Coach. (Credit Kentucky Wesleyan Sports Information)

LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland football coach Tim Mathis announced the hiring of former CU linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Taurean Smith as the defensive coordinator, effective immediately.

Smith spent the last five years at NCAA Division II Kentucky Wesleyan, serving as the associate head coach, defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. In his first season, he helped the Panthers to a 7-4 mark, the best record in program history, just one year after a winless season. He improved the defense in nearly every statistical category en route to the program’s first winning season in 15 years.

Smith was named Interim Head Coach at Kentucky Wesleyan this past August, posting a 3-7 mark.

During his time in Owensboro, 11 KWC players earned All-Conference accolades, including First Team recognition for defensive back Alijah McGhee, who led the Great Midwest Athletic Conference with seven pass break-ups and six interceptions, and Second Team honors for defensive end Dalan Cofer. Smith also coached G-MAC Special Teams Player of the Year Keelan Cole, who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons at Cumberland, working primarily with the linebackers as well as helping with special teams. His linebacker trio ranked first, third and fifth in tackles for the Bulldogs in 2012, accumulating 16.0 tackles for loss with one sack, one interception and three interceptions. Connor McChurch earned Second Team All-Mid-South Conference honors for the year.

In 2013 the tandem ranked first, third and fourth in tackles with four interceptions, 11 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and 10 quarterback hurries. The group also forced five fumbles while Nathan Jernigan garnered Second Team All-MSC accolades and was also named MSC Freshman of the Year.

Smith coached one season as a graduate assistant at Bethel University, working with linebackers. Stayce Whipple garnered First Team All-Mid-South Conference accolades that year. He was in charge of breaking down opponent film and drawing scouting cards for the Wildcats, who posted an 8-3 overall record, falling in the first round of the NAIA Playoffs.

His coaching career started as a student assistant at his alma mater, Western Kentucky, assisting with linebackers and special teams. He also broke down film and assisted with daily recruiting on campus activities.

Smith played two seasons for the Hilltoppers at inside linebacker for coach David Elson. He played in 24 career games at WKU, compiling 88 tackles as a senior with 5.5 tackles for loss as well as one interception and two forced fumbles. He recorded double-digit tackles in three straight contests, including 13 at Navy, and returned an interception 16 yards against South Florida. He ended his career with 11 tackles against Arkansas State.

Smith posted 49 stops as a junior with one fumble recovery and one pass breakup, including four tackles and a pass breakup versus Virginia Tech. He recorded a team-best 10 stops with a sack against Ball State and notched eight tackles versus Florida International.

He played two seasons at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, earning Male Student-Athlete of the Year honors as a sophomore. He earned First Team All-Region and All-Minnesota Community College Conference honors as a sophomore, registering 118 total tackles, eighth best in the nation, along with seven interceptions and eight tackles for loss.

He recorded 25 tackles against Ridgewater Community College and was credited with 18 stops and two interceptions versus Vermillion Community College. Smith paced the Spartans with 102 tackles along with three forced fumbles as a freshman, garnering Second Team All-MCCC accolades.

He was a three-year letterwinner at Perry High School in Perry, Ga., twice earning the Coaches’ Award. He posted 88 tackles as a senior, helping the Panthers play their first-ever home playoff game, and registered 82 stops with three sacks and two fumble recoveries as a junior. Smith made 64 tackles as a sophomore and also earned three letters in basketball.

Smith received his bachelor’s in Physical Education from Western Kentucky in 2011.