Todd Orlando believes in Utah State and what the Aggies are all about as a football program.

That’s one reason he’s excited to join the staff.

Orlando was officially announced as USU’s defensive coordinator on Sunday. The Herald Journal first broke the news via Twitter.

“The thing you look for more than anything else in a program is one with the same characteristics and same core values that you believe in, and I’ve found that at Utah State,” Orlando said.

Orlando has 17 years of coaching experience under his belt, including eight as a defensive coordinator.

First-year USU head coach Matt Wells is thrilled to bring a veteran like Orlando on board.

“We are excited to have Todd and his wife, Amy, join our Aggie football family,” Wells said. “Todd’s experience as a defensive coordinator the last eight years will be beneficial to our staff and that knowledge and experience from both Connecticut and Florida International will blend well with our current defensive coaches on staff.

“Todd will help to continue to mold our defense to fit our team’s current talents and abilities. He has had several of his defenses rank in the top 10 in the country, and we are fortunate to have a guy with his experience, knowledge and passion for football join our coaching staff.”

Orlando spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Florida International, helping guide the Panthers to the 2011 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.

During his two years at FIU, Orlando mentored five players who earned various all-Sun Belt Conference honors a total of seven times, including safety Jonathan Cyprien and defensive lineman Tourek Williams. That duo earned first-team all-league honors in 2012.

Cyprien played in the 2013 Senior Bowl — along with USU cornerback Will Davis — and is considered one of the top safety prospects in the nation heading into the upcoming NFL draft.

Orlando is joining an Aggie program that ranked first in the Western Athletic Conference and seventh in the nation in scoring defense (15.4 points per game) in 2012.

Besides that, the Aggies tied for sixth nationally in sacks (3.23 pg) and were eighth in pass efficiency defense (104.4), 13th in rushing defense (113.8 ypg) and 14th in total defense (322.1 ypg).

“Obviously, I’m extremely excited to be part of a team that is used to winning and also associated with a defense that returns seven starters from a group that had an outstanding season last year,” Orlando said.

Orlando is also looking forward to joining forces with Wells and the rest of the USU coaches.

“Coach Wells and his staff, along with myself, believe in the same things in how you coach the kids to make them better people, better students and better athletes, and if you do that you’ll be successful,” Orlando said. “The staff is really what impressed me more than anything else. They are hard working and a very close unit. They’ve had success and the second I met the staff I knew our association could work.”

Orlando joined FIU following a very successful 12-year stint at Connecticut, including spending his final six seasons (2005-10) there as the Huskies’ defensive coordinator.

Orlando coached UConn’s inside linebackers since the 1999 season and in 2005, he also assumed the role of defensive coordinator.

In 2010, Orlando’s defense helped the Huskies capture the Big East championship and play in the Fiesta Bowl.

In his first year as defensive coordinator at UConn in 2006, the Huskies led the Big East in total defense, ranking seventh nationally. The team only allowed 297.1 ypg — its best total since 1979.

In all, Orlando has coached in eight bowl games during his professional career and has been a part of two conference championships.

Orlando was a three-year letterwinner at Wisconsin, where he played inside linebacker and was a member of the 1994 Big Ten championship team that defeated UCLA in the Badgers’ first Rose Bowl appearance since 1963.

At Wisconsin, Orlando played under head coach Barry Alvarez, while his defensive coordinator, Dan McCarney, has since had a successful run as head coach at Iowa State.

The native of Pittsburgh earned his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from Wisconsin in 1994. Orlando is married to the former Amy Gilmore and the couple has one daughter, Taylor (16).

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waded@hjnews.com

Twitter: wdbowler

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