A 34-year coaching veteran who has spent 25 of his seasons as an assistant working with defensive backs, Duane Akina has tutored three Thorpe Award winners, six Thorpe Award finalists and 25 defensive backs who have played in the NFL, in addition to two more who entered the league in 2012.
In his 12 seasons at UT, Akina's secondary has helped the Horns rank among the nation's Top 10 in pass defense six times and featured consecutive Thorpe Award winners in Michael Huff (2005) and Aaron Ross (2006) to go along with two finalists in Earl Thomas (2009) and Quentin Jammer (2001) and 12 first-team All-Big 12 picks. Eleven of the Texas DBs he has tutored are currently in the NFL.
In his first season at Texas in 2001, he helped guide one of the nation's premier secondaries that ranked third in passing defense (146.7 ypg) and fourth in pass efficiency defense (88.0 rating). The Longhorns allowed only 4.77 yards per pass attempt, which was the lowest in the nation, while their six touchdown passes allowed were tied for the second-fewest nationally. Akina's top pupil was CB Quentin Jammer, who became UT's first unanimous consensus first-team All-America defender since Jerry Gray in 1984. Jammer, who set a UT single-season record with 24 pass breakups and eclipsed the school's career PBUs mark with 57, also became the first Longhorn to earn a spot as a Thorpe Award finalist.
Despite losing two starters to the NFL (Jammer and Ahmad Brooks), Akina guided a secondary that was again among the nation's best in 2002. Led by first-team All-Big 12 performer and Thorpe Award semifinalist Rod Babers, the secondary ranked seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense (96.1 rating), eighth in passing defense (165.2 ypg.) and allowed just 5.37 yards per attempt (third NCAA). Babers posted 21 PBUs (No. 3 on UT's single-season list) and finished his career ranked third on the UT all-time PBU chart (49). Akina also helped train S Michael Huff, who earned third-team Freshman All-America honors.
In 2003, the Longhorns ranked ninth nationally in pass defense (177.3 ypg) and third in completion percentage allowed (47.2). CB Nathan Vasher was a Thorpe Award semifinalist, earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and tied the oldest-standing mark on the Longhorn record book with his 17th career interception. He also broke the UT record for career pass breakups with 64.
After being named co-defensive coordinator in 2004, Akina helped guide a defense that finished 18th in scoring defense (17.9), 16th in rushing defense (107.4), 32nd in turnover margin (+5) and 23rd in total defense (320.1) in the country.
Under Akina's direction, Huff became a member of the Jim Thorpe Award watch list and three of the four starters in the secondary were named to All-Big 12 teams.
The pattern continued in 2005 as Akina led a defense and secondary that ranked fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense (96.7), eighth in pass defense (172.0 ypg), eighth in scoring defense (16.4 ppg) and 10th in total defense (302.9 ypg). Akina also mentored Huff as Texas' first-ever Jim Thorpe Award winner and produced three All-Big 12 performers out of the secondary.
Despite losing two players who wound up starting for their NFL teams in Huff (Raiders) and Cedric Griffin (Vikings), Akina continued to show his ability to develop great talent in 2006. He helped Aaron Ross become Texas' second consecutive Thorpe Award winner, while also earning various publication's Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Safety Michael Griffin also capped his outstanding career with All-America honors.
The duo of Michael Griffin and Ross went on to be drafted back-to-back in the first round, 19th by the Titans and 20th by the Giants, respectively. Both earned starting positions with Ross and the Giants advancing to the Super Bowl. Tarell Brown was the third DB drafted that year (UT first since 1984), as he was chosen in the fifth round by the 49ers.
In 2007, Akina guided a Texas defense that was sixth-best in the nation against the run (93.4 ypg). Safety Marcus Griffin earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and was named first-team All-America by ESPN.com.
Akina returned his full focus to the defensive backs in 2008. With only one returning starter in CB Ryan Palmer, Akina guided the emergence of two freshmen at the starting safety positions. By season's end, Earl Thomas was named first-team Freshman All-America by the Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News and College Football News, while Blake Gideon earned second-team honors from College Football News. Palmer earned second-team All-Big 12 honors, and the unit helped Texas rank second in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense.
In 2009, Akina guided a secondary that helped the defense lead the nation in interceptions (25), rank 10th in pass efficiency defense and 19th in passing yards allowed. It also featured the Longhorns' third Thorpe Award finalist in five years in consensus All-America honoree S Earl Thomas, who led the nation in passes defended and tied for second in interceptions with a UT record eight. Thomas also tied the UT single-season record with two INT returned for TDs.
During the 2010 season, the Longhorns ranked sixth in the nation in both pass defense (161.6 ypg) and total defense (300.2 ypg). Cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Aaron Williams both earned second-team All-Big 12 honors, while S Blake Gideon was tabbed honorable mention All-Big 12. Three defensive backs from last year's team - Williams, Brown and CB Chykie Brown - were selected in the 2011 NFL Draft in the second, third and fifth rounds, respectively.
In 2011, Akina's group once again helped Texas lead the Big 12 in pass defense, holding teams to 209.9 yards per game, while also leading the Big 12 and ranking 10th nationally in pass efficiency defense. The secondary featured two successful young cornerbacks as sophomore Carrington Byndom and true freshman Quandre Diggs tied for 12th in the NCAA in passes defended. Diggs earned Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year and CBSSports.com Freshman All-America honors while also recording four interceptions and two caused fumbles. Junior Kenny Vaccaro was a first team All-Big 12 selection as well with Akina's guidance, while senior S Blake Gideon completed his career starting all 52 games in which Texas played in his career. Gideon and S Christian Scott both signed free agent contracts in the NFL.
Akina again guided Vaccaro to first team All-Big 12 honors in 2012 for a defense that had 13 interceptions and 31 pass breakups.
Akina joined the UT program after spending the previous 14 seasons at Arizona, where he served as the associate head coach and was tabbed defensive coordinator in December 2000. During his tenure at Arizona, he was a versatile coach who worked with both sides of the ball. Akina spent his final five seasons as defensive backs coach and nine of his 14 seasons working with the Wildcats' secondary. He also was UA's offensive coordinator from 1992-95.
As the secondary coach at Arizona, Akina helped guide the Wildcats' "Desert Swarm" defensive attack, one of the nation's most aggressive and productive groups. His prize pupils were Darryll Lewis, the 1990 Jim Thorpe Award winner, and Chris McAlister, a finalist for the Thorpe Award and winner of the Mosi Tatupu National Special Teams Player of the Year award in 1998. Lewis was a Pro Bowler for the San Diego Chargers and played 10 seasons in the NFL. McAlister, meanwhile, earned a spot in the 2004 Pro Bowl and was a member of the 2000 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.
During his time as offensive coordinator, Akina guided some of the Wildcats' most productive offenses. In 1994, he helped develop the UA offense into a unit that recorded more than 200 yards passing per game. Arizona's offense registered 2,211 passing yards and 1,776 rushing yards that season, which marked the first time in a decade that the team had registered more yards passing than rushing. In 1995, Akina directed the Wildcats' passing attack to 204.3 yards per game, which at the time, ranked fifth on the school's all-time list.
Akina joined the UA staff in January 1987 after spending a season as defensive backs coach with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Prior to that, he spent five years as an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii. Akina coached the defensive backs in 1981-82 and `84-85 and tutored the outside linebackers in 1983 at UH.
A native of Honolulu, Akina is a 1979 graduate of the University of Washington. He earned three letters as a quarterback, and upon completing his eligibility, he served as a graduate assistant coach at UW. Akina worked with the Huskies' quarterbacks in 1979-80.
Hawaii's Prep Athlete of the Year at Honolulu's Punahou High School in 1974-75, he was a three-time all-league selection as a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball. Akina and his wife, Donna, have five children, Kainoa, Keoni, Dionicia, Alli and Kamalii. Kainoa has a wife, Daya.
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