Gophers coach Tracy Claeys confirmed Monday morning that he's leaning toward promoting defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel to defensive coordinator.

Sawvel, 44, made the defensive play calls after Claeys moved from defensive coordinator to head coach upon Jerry Kill's retirement Oct. 28.

"Obviously, I’m leaning that way" toward promoting Sawvel, Claeys said. "Gosh dang, Jay has been with me a long time, and he’s a heck of a coach. We just haven’t had time to sit down. I’ve said something to him in passing.

"On the defensive side of the ball, we aren’t worried about it. We get back in [from recruiting trips] on Dec. 14. We will sit and meet about it. We will release everything else with the rest of the staff. There shouldn’t be any surprises to anybody that that’s the way we are leaning."

Sawvel coached at Eastern Kentucky, Notre Dame and Ferris State before joining Claeys and Kill at Southern Illinois in 2001. Sawvel has been instrumental to the team's recruiting efforts and has helped turn the secondary into a team strength, while also serving as special teams coorinator.

The Gophers have had a safety picked in the NFL Draft each of the past two years -- Brock Vereen and Cedric Thompson. Senior cornerbacks Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are both considered NFL prospects, with Murray a potential high-round pick.

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