Washington Names Donatell New Defensive Coordinator
Jan. 31, 2008
SEATTLE - University of Washington head football coach Tyrone Willingham has hired Ed Donatell, a successful veteran of the professional coaching ranks, to serve as the program's defensive coordinator.
Donatell will officially begin his duties at Washington on Friday, February 1.
"Ed Donatell is an excellent addition to our football program and I am excited that he will be leading our defense," said Willingham. "He is an outstanding football coach with a great deal of experience at both the collegiate and professional levels. With his background as a NFL defensive coordinator, he understands what it takes to stop some of the game's most complex offensive schemes. I believe that his experience will translate well to our program and give our players a clear understanding of what it takes to excel at the highest level of competition."
Donatell, 50, has spent 12 of the last 13 seasons as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator in the National Football League and has coached 12 players who have earned Pro Bowl recognition. Last season he was a special assistant with the New York Jets. He served as defensive coordinator from 2004-06 for the Atlanta Falcons.
While with the Falcons, under UW alum Jim Mora, Donatell led a defensive unit that ranked among the league leaders in several categories. His 2004 unit led the NFL by allowing its opponents a league-low 30.2 percent on third-down conversions. The Falcons also led the league in sacks for the first time in team history, won the club's third-ever division title and advanced to the NFC championship game. In 2005, his defense ranked third in the NFL with only 28 passes allowed of 20-or-more yards.
Prior to his time in Atlanta, he served four seasons as Green Bay's defensive coordinator under Mike Sherman. During his stint in Green Bay, Donatell's defense led the NFL with 144 takeaways, an average of 36 a year and led the league with 2.25 forced turnovers per game.
He began his NFL coaching career with the New York Jets in 1990 as defensive backs coach. He joined Mike Shanahan on the Denver Broncos' coaching staff in the same position in 1995 and helped lead the team to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1997 and 1998. He took over a secondary that ranked last in the NFL in 1994 and led them to a top 10 ranking in each of his five seasons in Denver.
Donatell entered coaching in 1979 as a graduate assistant for two seasons at Kent State before a two-year stint as a graduate assistant under Don James at Washington. His first full-time coaching job was as defensive backs coach at Pacific before he joined former Washington coach Keith Gilbertson as the defensive backs coach at Idaho for three seasons. He also spent one season as the secondary coach at Cal State Fullerton before moving into the NFL.
An all-conference defensive back, team captain and four-year letterwinner at Glenville (W. Va.) State, Donatell earned his bachelor's degree in 1979 and earned a master's degree in administration from Kent State in 1981. A native of Stow, Ohio, Donatell and his wife, Shari, have a daughter, Brenna, and two sons, Thomas and Steven.