Middleton leaves Duke for NFL’s Jaguars
Duke head football coach David Cutliffe is losing a longtime assistant coach to the NFL.
Ron Middleton, Duke’s associate head coach who has been with the Blue Devils since Cutcliffe’s arrival five years ago, has accepted a position on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ staff.
Cutcliffe informed Duke players of Middleton’s departure on Tuesday.
“I will forever be grateful to Coach Cutcliffe for giving me the opportunity to work at Duke University,” Middleton said. “I’m proud of what we accomplished as a staff over the last five years both on and off the field, and I know the young men in the program will continue to prosper in everything they do.
“The decision to leave Duke was extremely difficult because of the quality young men in the football program and the leadership of the institution, and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of something much bigger than myself.”
Middleton, who coached Duke’s tight ends and was special teams coordinator, has spent most of the past 13 years with Cutcliffe. He was on Cutcliffe’s staff at Mississippi from 1999-2003, where he coached tight ends for three seasons and running backs for two. He also was the Rebels’ special teams coordinator.
From 2004-06, he was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff as tight ends coach. After one year on Alabama’s staff, he rejoined Cutcliffe at Duke.
With Jacksonville, he will be reunited with Gus Bradley the Jaguars’ new head coach. Middleton and Bradley worked together in Tampa Bay.
At the same time, Middleton said leaving Cutcliffe and Duke isn’t easy.
“Coach Cutcliffe’s guidance and unwavering support during my coaching career has been nothing short of exceptional,” Middleton said. “He is a tremendous leader, and it is a privilege for me to call him a mentor, colleague and brother. I can’t thank him enough for everything he has done for me, and I wish him and everyone within the football program the best of luck as they continue to do great things at Duke.”
Middleton is the second top-level assistant Duke has lost since the season ended. Matt Lubick, Duke’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, left to join Oregon’s staff in January.
The Blue Devils are coming off their most successful season in 18 years. Duke went 6-7 and played in a bowl game for the first time since 1994, losing 48-34 to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte.
Cutcliffe was unavailable for comment Tuesday, the eve of national signing day.
Middleton has confidence the Blue Devils will continue their improvement for years to come.
“Duke is such a special place because of the people, especially the student-athletes,” Middleton said. “It has truly been a joy to come to work each day with these young men, watch them grow and witness their achievements. I’m indebted to the players and their relentless pursuit of excellence.”