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Football Coaching Staff
Sam McGrath
Defensive Quality Control
Coach Info:
Position: Defensive Quality Control
Alma Mater: Brown '12
Phone: (919) 684-2635
Email: sam.mcgrath@duke.edu

Sam McGrath joined the Duke coaching staff in July of 2015 and serves in the role of defensive quality control. He spent his first three years with the Blue Devils as a graduate assistant coach, working primarily with the defensive unit.

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, McGrath’s primary focus was with the linebackers, where Duke produced a pair of award honorees in Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris.  Humphreys was an All-ACC selection in 2016 and 2018 while Giles-Harris garnered All-America accolades in 2017 as well as first team all-league honors in 2017 and 2018. Giles-Harris became Duke’s first linebacker with two first team All-ACC honors since Mike Junkin in 1985 and 1986.

Depth was key to Duke’s 2018 defensive unit as the squad lost four defensive starters throughout the course of the campaign, including Humphreys and Giles-Harris for the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl. The Blue Devils shut out the Owls in the second half in Shreveport, La., marking the sixth time during the season Duke blanked a team in a half, and secured their third consecutive bowl victory.  

Despite the multitude of injuries, Duke finished with consecutive years of holding opponents to 201 or fewer passing yards a contest for the first time since 2004-05. 

In 2017, the Blue Devil defense proved to be one of the best in the ACC, ranking among the league’s leaders in both scoring defense (3rd) and total defense (4th).

During his first year at Duke, McGrath assisted a defensive unit that produced a trio of 100-tackle performers with linebacker Dwayne Norman (114), safety DeVon Edwards (101) and safety Jeremy Cash (101). Led by Cash, the 2015 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Duke was the only team in the league with three players over the 100-tackle mark, and one of only two nationally, joining Tulsa.

A native of Longmeadow, Mass., McGrath previously worked with the Wagner College (2014) football program as an outside linebackers/safeties coach, at Stevenson University (2013-14) as a graduate assistant coach and at Fairleigh Dickinson University (2012) as an outside linebackers coach and assistant special teams coordinator. 

McGrath graduated from Brown in 2012 and earned a master’s degree from Stevenson in 2014.  He earned a master’s degree in Christian studies from Duke in 2017. 

McGrath is married to former Duke diver Abby Johnston, who won a silver medal in the synchronized three-meter springboard competition at the 2012 London Olympics and participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics as an individual 3-meter diver. The couple has one daughter, Rosemary.