One of the most respected defensive minds in college football, Ellis Johnson returns to South Carolina in 2016 as an analyst. This is his second tour of duty with the Gamecocks, as he served as the team’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach from 2008-11 under Steve Spurrier. Johnson is a 30-plus year coaching veteran with a bulk of that experience coming in the Southeastern Conference.
Johnson’s coaching career has included head coaching stops at Southern Miss (2012), The Citadel (2001-03) and Gardner-Webb (1983). Along with his four years at South Carolina, Johnson has logged stints as the defensive coordinator at Appalachian State (1984), Southern Miss (1988-89), Clemson (1995-96), Alabama (1997-2000), Mississippi State (2004-07), and Auburn (2013-14). He also logged a stints as a position coach at East Carolina (1985-87), Alabama (1990-93), and Clemson (1994).
He has coached in two national championship games, five SEC Championship games, has been part of one national title, three SEC Championships and has placed numerous players on NFL rosters.
A native of Winnsboro, S.C., Johnson is a 1975 graduate of The Citadel with a bachelor’s degree in education. He played defensive end for the Bulldogs. He began his career as the defensive ends coach at his alma mater under Bobby Ross in 1975 before working as an assistant coach at Gaffney (S.C.) High School from 1976-78 and as both an assistant and head coach at Spartanburg (S.C.) High School from 1979-81.
He is married to the former Caroline Courie, a Columbia, S.C., native and Clemson graduate. They have two sons, Eli and Charlie, and a daughter, Sandra Elliott.