ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon University football team has hired former Western Washington assistant John Ely as its new defensive coordinator, Southern Oregon announced on Wednesday.

ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon University football team has hired former Western Washington assistant John Ely as its new defensive coordinator, Southern Oregon announced on Wednesday.

Ely served two stints at Western Washington University, the latest from 1999 through 2005, as the defensive coordinator. Under Ely's assistance, the Vikings compiled a 43-29 overall record and were conference champions four times. His 1999 and 2001 WWU teams both went 8-3, with the '99 squad advancing to the NCAA Division II National Playoffs.

While at WWU, Ely's defenses were ranked 14th nationally in rushing defense in 2000 and 23rd in scoring defense that same season.

Prior to Western Washington, Ely spent two seasons at Idaho State University, three seasons at San Diego State University, and two seasons at Washington State University.

While at Idaho State, Ely coached the linebackers both seasons and coordinated the Bengal defense for one season. At San Diego State, Ely served as the defensive grad assistant for at San Diego State, and was the recruiting coordinator and video coordinator at Washington State, including a 9-3 campaign and a Copper Bowl Championship in 1992.

Most recently, Ely was a varsity assistant at Mountain View High School in Glendale, Ariz., and was looking to get back into the college ranks. Helminiak was looking to solidify his defensive coordinator position with a coach that has West Coast ties.

"The itch to get back into college football was great, and when the D-Coordinator position opened, the opportunity was presented," said Ely.

Helminiak was excited as well, adding, "John's extensive coaching and recruiting experience on the West Coast is huge. He has coached at every level and has recruited from Alaska to Southern California and everywhere in between. John has made a lot of connections and that can be the difference in landing some key recruits."

SOU opens four weeks of spring practices on April 7, culminating with the annual Raider Red & Black Spring Game on May 3.