Dennis Thurman
New York Jets
Personal information
Date of birth: (1956-04-13) April 13, 1956 (age 64)
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
High School: Santa Monica High School
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) Weight: 176 lb (80 kg)
Career information
College: Southern California
NFL Draft: 1978 / Round: 11 / Pick: 306
Debuted in 1978 for the Dallas Cowboys
Last played in 1986 for the Arizona Cardinals
Career history
 As player:
* Dallas Cowboys ( 1978 1985)
 As coach:
* Phoenix Cardinals ( 1988 1989) - (DB)
Career highlights and awards
  • N/A
Career NFL statistics as of 1986
Interceptions     36
INT return yards     562
Touchdowns     4
Stats at

Dennis Lee Thurman (born April 13, 1956 in Los Angeles, California) is a retired American football cornerback in the National Football League. He is currently the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Thurman played high school football at Santa Monica High School where he was a quarterback and defensive back and was a part of three CIF Division I championship teams that combined to go 39-1-1. He is the older brother of Ulysses "Junior" Thurman who also starred at Santa Monica High (1981) and went on to star at the University of Southern California where he played safety next to All-American Tim McDonald.

College career[edit | edit source]

Thurman played college football at University of Southern California where he graduated in 1977 as a two-time All-America safety and flanker and was part of the 1974 National Champion team. Thurman played for John McKay and later for John Robinson and was teammates with Ronnie Lott while at USC while Lott was an underclassmen. Lott credits Thurman for his development as a player in his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech stating Thurman was someone who "helped me become a better football player."[1]

He was a member of the 1974 USC National Championship team and played on Trojan teams that won four bowl games (two Roses, a Liberty and a Bluebonnet).

In his Trojan career, he had 13 interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and led the Pac-10 Conference in interceptions with eight in 1976. Thurman also had 169 career tackles, 11 pass deflections and four fumble recoveries. He was USC's MVP in 1977 and won USC's Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1977. He played in the 1978 Senior Bowl and was a 1977 Playboy Pre-Season All-American. He led USC in interceptions in 1976 (eight, tops in the Pac-8) and led USC in punt returns in 1976 (68 yards). Thurman is tied for sixth on USC's career interception list (13, including two intercepted fumbles).

Professional career[edit | edit source]

Dallas Cowboys[edit | edit source]

Thurman a fifth-year player from USC, was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1978 NFL Draft, and although his experience was at safety, he originally made the team as a cornerback.

He played in Super Bowl XIII in 1979 and recovered an onside kick.

In 1980 he won the starting free safety position. The next year Charlie Waters retired and cornerback Benny Barnes, was moved to strong safety, so Thurman was pressed into starting at cornerback where he would remain for the rest of his Cowboys career. 1981 was also the year he made his only Pro Bowl.

Thurman had three interceptions, including a 39-yard touchdown and one to clinch the victory at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas in the 1983 NFL playoffs semi-finals against the Green Bay Packers.

During the 1985 season quarterback Danny White nicknamed Thurman along with fellow safety Michael Downs and cornerbacks Everson Walls, Ron Fellows, "Thurman's Thieves", for their opportunistic play in the secondary.

Saint Louis Cardinals[edit | edit source]

He played with the Saint Louis Cardinals as cornerback and safety in 1986.

Thurman never missed a game during his 137-game career and finished with 36 interceptions, which he returned for 562 yards and four touchdowns. He also recovered seven fumbles.

Coaching career[edit | edit source]

He made his NFL coaching debut with the Arizona Cardinals, coaching defensive backs for two seasons (1988–89).

He coached from 1993 to 2000 for his alma mater, the USC Trojans where he mentored future NFLers Chris Cash, Kris Richard, Daylon McCutcheon, Brian Kelly and Troy Polamalu.

Thurman was part of the Baltimore Ravens coaching staff from 2002 to 2008.

He is currently the New York Jets defensive coordinator.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lott, Ronnie; Roy Lott (July 29, 2000). "Ronnie Lott's Enshrinement Speech". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on August 16, 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2011.

External links[edit | edit source]

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