Sports, Football

Three-Year Defensive Coordinator Tem Lukabu to Leave BC for Carolina Panthers

Boston College football defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu is the latest of a plethora of coaches leaving Chestnut Hill this offseason, following in the footsteps of offensive coordinator John McNulty and offensive line coach Dave DeGulielmo’s departures. 

As of Friday, Feb. 17, Lukabu agreed to terms to become the Carolina Panthers’ outside linebackers coach—leaving the Eagles without both coordinator positions less than eight weeks before the Jay McGillis Memorial Spring Game.

He held the defensive coordinator position from 2020–22—all three years of BC head coach Jeff Hafley’s tenure with BC thus far.

In 2021, BC’s defense—under Lukabu—ranked third in the ACC in scoring defense. But the Eagles fell to 13th in the conference in scoring defense during the 2022 season, Lukabu’s third year as defensive coordinator. 

In comparison to 2021—in which BC ranked third in the nation in passing yards allowed with 173.5 per game and had four members of its defense earning All-ACC honors—the Eagles gave up the third-most points in the conference with 364 and the third (tie) most touchdowns in the ACC with 45 in 2022. 

BC’s regression on defense was compounded by the Eagles’ lack of offensive success, which left the defense out on the field for large portions of time. The Eagles ran the ball for an average 63.2 yards per game.

In 2020—Lukabu’s first year in Chestnut Hill—BC’s defense finished 73rd in the nation in total defense, just one year after it finished 125th in total defense in 2020. BC allowed 28.4 points per game in 2020—good for 60th in the nation—after finishing 101st nationally in 2019 with 32.2 points per game. 

Lukabu took over for former BC defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan—who oversaw the Eagles’ defense in the 2019 season. Prior to BC, Lukabu coached for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019 as their linebacker coach under current head coach Zac Taylor. The Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo native worked with NFL linebackers such as Nick Vigil and Germaine Pratt, who recorded 70-plus tackles while being coached by Lukabu. 

Prior to working for the Bengals, Lukabu made stops at Rhode Island, Rutgers, Colgate, Florida International, and Mississippi State.

Despite coaching two All-ACC players—defensive backs Josh DeBerry and Brandon Sebastian—at BC in 2021, only one BC defensive player was named an All-ACC selection last season—defensive end Donovan Ezeiruaku, who made the All-ACC Second Team. 

In 2021, defensive end Marcus Valdez and safety Jaiden Woodbey earned All-ACC honorable mentions under Lukabu, while in 2022, defensive tackle Chibueze Onwuka, linebacker Vinny DePalma, cornerback Elijah Jones, DeBerry, and Woodbey earned honorable mentions.

February 21, 2023