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Three years out of college, Jacob Pardonnet takes over his alma mater's defense

In 2016, Pardonnet was part of the group that hired Peter Stuursma as Hope College's head coach. Now Pardonnet will run Stuursma's defense.

It's not accurate to say Jacob Pardonnet got Peter Stuursma hired as the head coach at Hope College, a Division III school in Holland, Mich., but Pardonnet was part of the group that approved Stuursma's hiring. Five seasons later, Stuursma handed Pardonnet the keys to his defense.

"Jacob was on the student committee when I was hired here at Hope College. I had the opportunity to coach him for two years, then watched his coaching career from afar," Stuursma said. "We're excited he's accepted the opportunity to be the defensive coordinator here.

"His energy, enthusiasm and ability to relate to players, we've already seen that in meetings, and we will see that on the field soon."

With Cincinnati announcing the hire of Hope College defensive coordinator James Ross III as its new outside linebackers coach, news FootballScoop broke last month, Hope College has hired Pardonnet as its new defensive coordinator. 

"I am very honored Coach Stuursma thought I was prepared for this type of position and responsibility," Pardonnet told the Holland Sentinel. "Hope means a lot to me, Hope gave me a lot during my four years, and I am hoping to do the same as the defensive coordinator."

A 3-year starter, a 2-time all-conference performer and a team captain, Pardonnet worked as a student assistant at Hope following the end of his career. He then joined Bryant's staff in 2019, working his way to strong safeties coach. 

Pardonnet takes over a defense that permitted 14.4 points per game and ranked in the top 25 nationally in pass efficiency defense. 

While Ross was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator, he never actually coached a game at that position. That promotion happened in February following the retirement of Mike Ricketts, who ran Hope's defense from 2003 to '21. Pardonnet spent five seasons playing and working under Ricketts.

"To this day, I don't think there is a better football mind than Coach Ricketts. He taught me more about football during my playing days than I think anybody else," Pardonnet said. "He's the grittiest guy I know and his work ethic is noticeable. That says something in an industry where that doesn't often get noticed. That rubbed off on me. And I can't thank him enough.

"He had a big hand in the culture and tone that changed over with the new staff (in 2016). He believed in us. That's something I hope to instill in our guys."

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.