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UTEP officially announces Tom Mason as new defensive coordinator

Now its officially official.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

UTEP Athletics officially announced the hiring of Tom Mason as UTEP's next defensive coordinator in a Saturday afternoon press release.

"Tom is an outstanding coach, who comes highly recommended and brings a lot of experience to UTEP, " said head coach Sean Kugler. "He has 38 years of experience in coaching many of those as a defensive coordinator.

"We feel his defensive scheme fits our personnel and I am looking forward to him working with our players," said Kugler.

Mason served as the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for Hawaii during the 2015 season.

During his time with the Rainbow Warriors, Mason mentored defensive lineman Kennedy Tulimasealii, who garnered All-Mountain West first team honors.  Tulimasealii finished the season ranked third in tackles among MW defensive linemen and notched eight quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Mason also helped inside linebacker Julian Gener finish the season with team highs of 95 tackles and 62 unassisted tackles, ranking sixth in the MW in tackles and third in solo tackles (27th in NCAA).

Prior to Hawaii, Mason was the defensive coordinator at SMU for seven years. During his tenure with the Mustangs, he transformed the SMU defense into one of the nation's best, helping the program regain its former glory while working under former UH head coach June Jones. Mason's defense aided SMU to four consecutive bowl seasons and a narrow loss in the 2010 Conference-USA Championship Game.

The Mustangs hit a new high in that journey in 2012 with the defense under Mason's guidance, posting two shutouts and tying an NCAA interception record, ranking 15th in rush defense with just 118 yards per game, while also tying for third in takeaways (37), ranking second in fumble recoveries for touchdown (16) and led the nation in interceptions for touchdown (8).

Mason guided numerous SMU players to all-conference honors, including cornerback Kenneth Acker, who was named all-American Athletic Conference (AAC) and was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Five Mustang defenders earned All-Conference USA honors in 2012, with first-teamers Ja'Gared Davis and Margus Hunt, while the 2011 season saw eight SMU defenders earn all-C-USA accolades, highlighted by first-teamers Richard Crawford and Taylor Thompson.

Mason was also an interim head coach at SMU in 2014, and will bring in a 3-4 defensive scheme.