DURHAM – Duke head football coach Mike Elko announced Sunday that Lyle Hemphill will join the Blue Devil gridiron program and serve as an assistant coach. Hemphill will coach Duke's safeties.
Hemphill's appointment is the first staff transaction made by Elko, who was named Duke's 22nd head football coach back on December 10.
Hemphill and Elko served on the defensive staff together for three seasons at Hofstra University from 2006-08, helping the Pride to a three-year ledger of 13-21 and a ranking of fourth in the nation in pass defense in 2008. Hemphill coached the secondary and special teams units during his time in Hempstead, N.Y.
For the last five seasons, Hemphill served on Dave Clawson's staff at Wake Forest, mentoring the safeties before being elevated to defensive coordinator at the conclusion of the 2018 season. Over the past three years as the defensive coordinator, Hemphill has helped lead the Demon Deacons to three consecutive bowl appearances. Wake Forest was also one of just three FBS schools with 13 or more interceptions during that three-year stretch.
Under Hemphill's guidance in 2021, Wake Forest was tied for fifth in the nation with 27 turnovers gained on the season and sixth in the ACC in pass defense, allowing just 221.85 yards per game. He also helped the Demon Deacons to a 10-3 ledger, including a perfect 6-0 mark at home.
Wake Forest had its highest turnover margin in the Clawson era with a +10 margin during the 2020 season. The Demon Deacons were one of just seven FBS schools to post a +10 or better margin in the country, tying for fourth in that category. Of Wake Forest's 13 interceptions that season, four came from freshman walk-on safety Nick Andersen, who was tied for eighth nationally and tied for first in the ACC.
The 2019 Wake Forest defense finished 16th in the nation in third down defense, which was a program best. The Demon Deacons also ended the season 15th in fumbles recovered and 17th in passes intercepted among all FBS schools. During that season, Hemphill helped mentor Carlos "Boogie" Basham Jr. to one of the best single-seasons for an edge defender in school history. He was the ACC leader with 18.0 tackles for loss and tied for 14th nationally with 11.0 sacks.
During his tenure in Winston-Salem, Hemphill coached 14 defensive players to 17 All-ACC recognition, including safety Jessie Bates III and Basham Jr. Bates, who was taken in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, was an honorable mention All-ACC pick in 2017 and finished his career third in school history with 195 interception return yards. Basham Jr., who was taken in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, finished his four-year career with 20.5 sacks (fourth most in school history), 173 tackles, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Prior to Wake Forest, Hemphill spent six seasons (2011-16) at Stony Brook, where he served as the safeties coach before adding defensive coordinator duties his final four years. The 2015 FCS Defensive Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com, helped direct one of the FCS' top defenses in the country. During his last three seasons, the Seawolves finished in the top three nationally in total defense, including leading the country in 2015, allowing just 250.1 yards per game. Under Hemphill's guidance, seven Seawolves earned all-conference honors, including Davonte Anderson and Victor Ochi, who became the Stony Brook's Division I career leader in interceptions and sacks, respectively.
Prior to his time with the Seawolves, Hemphill had a second stint at Delaware for the 2010 season, where he served as the cornerbacks coach. He also served on Blue Hens' staff from 2004-05 as a graduate assistant, working primarily with the secondary. In 2010, he helped the Blue Hens get back to the FCS Championship Game, as Delaware finished the season with a 12-3 record including six top-25 wins. During his first stint, Hemphill helped guide the Blue Hens to a DI-AA quarterfinal appearance.
From 2006-09, he worked with the defensive backs and special teams unit at Hofstra. While with the Pride, Hemphill helped the secondary rank fourth in the FCS in pass defense, allowing just 136.92 yards per outing, and second in the CAA in 2007 in interceptions with 13. He also saw defensive back Kyle Arrington sign with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
His coaching career started at Delaware Valley University in 2002, where he coached defensive backs and special teams.
A 2002 graduate of Ursinus College with a bachelor's degree in politics, Hemphill was a four-year letterman at strong safety and wrestled one season for the Bears. He went on to earn a master's degree in education administration from Delaware in 2005. After graduating from college, he was a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at his alma mater, St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington, Del.
Hemphill is married to the former Christen Gardner of Philadelphia, and they are the parents of four children, Izabella, Lyla, Georgia and Olivia. His father, Joe, is one of the most successful football coaches in Delaware high school history, coaching at St. Elizabeth from 1972-2013.
THE LYLE HEMPHILL FILE
Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware
Education: Ursinus, 2002 (politics) and Delaware, 2005 (education administration)
Children: Izabella, Lyla, Georgia and Olivia
Birthday: Jan. 10 1980
HEMPHILL'S COACHING CAREER
- 2022-pres. – Duke (Safeties)
- 2019-21 – Wake Forest (Defensive Coordinator/Safeties)
- 2017-18 – Wake Forest (Safeties)
- 2013-16 – Stony Brook (Defensive Coordinator/Safeties)
- 2011-12 – Stony Brook (Safeties)
- 2010 – Delaware (Cornerbacks)
- 2006-09 – Hofstra (Special Teams/Defensive Backs)
- 2004-05 – Delaware (Graduate Assistant/Secondary)
- 2002-03 – Delaware Valley (Defensive Backs/Special Teams)