PRINCETON RECRUITING AREAS — Michigan; Ohio; Pennsylvania
Jared Backus, who has 18 seasons of collegiate coaching experience, is in his third season as the Princeton defensive coordinator. He came to Princeton after three years as a defensive assistant coach at Temple University, where he helped rebuild the struggling program into a bowl-eligible football team.
"Jared is a terrific football coach with an excellent background as a I-AA coordinator and most recently as the linebackers coach at Temple,” said Surace, who coached Backus when he was an undergraduate at Springfield College. “I've known Jared since he was a player. I value the intensity, toughness and leadership he brings to the position. His track record of success as a position coach and coordinator will be great assets to our program."
While coordinating the Princeton defense, Backus also works with the Princeton linebackers. In his first two seasons, Backus has placed four of his linebackers on the All-Ivy League team. Andrew Starks, who has earned All-Ivy honors each of the last two seasons, has ranked fourth in the Ivy League in tackles in both 2010 and 2011. Starks will serve as the Princeton co-captain this season.
The Tigers also saw several defensive improvements during the 2011 season; the most impressive one came in rushing defense, where Princeton moved from seventh in 2010 to third in 2011.
After coaching the defensive line for his first two seasons at Temple, Backus took over the linebacking corps during the fall of 2009. His only season as linebackers coach was one of the most memorable in the history of Temple athletics. The Owls won nine straight games and earned a berth in The EagleBank Bowl, Temple’s first since the now-defunct Garden State Bowl in 1979. Heading into the bowl game, Temple ranked in the Top 20 nationally in run defense and had a trio of All-MAC linebackers in Alex Joseph, Amara Kamara and Peanut Joseph. In five of its nine wins, Temple held its opponent to below 20 points.
“It is a great opportunity for me and my family to come to Princeton and join the incredible football tradition here,” Backus said. “I have known Bob Surace for a long time and am excited to be a part of his staff.”
In 2008, the Owl defense helped Temple to the team's most wins most since 1990 and a second-place finish in the MAC East. Facing five opponents that went on to postseason play, the Owls persevered to new heights, led by All-MAC honorees DT Terrance Knighton, Temple's first first-team selection, and DT Andre Neblett. Knighton was the 72nd overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and currently starts for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
During its inaugural season of Mid-American Conference play in 2007, the Temple defense also thrived. Temple led the MAC in five defensive statistical categories, including red zone defense; that statistic also ranked first nationally. Backus saw Neblett earn All-MAC honors as a sophomore in 2007.
Prior to joining the Owls, Backus spent five seasons at Bucknell, first coaching outside linebackers/special teams (2002) and defensive line/special teams (2003-04), before being promoted to defensive coordinator and linebackers coach (2005-06). In 2006, he was instrumental in the biggest turnaround in Division I-AA, as the Bison improved to 6-5 after posting a 1-10 record in 2005. He also helped develop multiple all-conference players at Bucknell, including defensive lineman Sean Conover, who spent three seasons with the Tennessee Titans and now plays with the Detroit Lions.
During his tenure in Lewisburg, Pa., Backus recruited in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, Canada and Pennsylvania.
Prior to Bucknell, Backus was the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator at Maine from 1999 to 2001, helping the team to an Atlantic Ten title and a No. 8 final ranking in 2001. He also directed two Black Bears to All-America honors, with return man Lynard Byrd earning accolades in 2001 and defensive end Jo-Jo Oliphant capturing the honor in 1999.
The Saugatuck, Conn., native began his collegiate coaching career at King's College (strength and conditioning intern, 1994), before moving on to Springfield College (graduate assistant, 1995), Rutgers (graduate assistant, 1996-97), and Pace (secondary/kickoff coverage, 1998). Rutgers linebacker Brian Sheridan earned All-Big East honors with Backus' assistance in 1997.
Backus was a two-year varsity letterwinner and one-year starter at linebacker at Springfield, earning a degree in physical education in 1993. He received a master of physical education degree from Springfield in 1998.
He and wife Amanda have a six-year-old son, Garrett, and a three-year-old daughter, Grace.