Ashley Ambrose spent two seasons as the defensive backs coach at Cal from 2011-12.
In his second and final season in the role in 2012, Ambrose coached a talented veteran secondary with Josh Hill and Steve Williams both earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors for the first time in their careers. Hill - who played cornerback, nickel back and safety during his Cal career - also led the team in tackles for the first time in his career with 87 and ranked ninth in the Pac-12 with a 7.2 per-game average at the end of the 2012 regular season. Williams was named both the team's Most Valuable Defensive Player and Most Valuable Defensive Back as one of the team's starting corners. He shared the club lead with three interceptions, while his 10 pass breakups and 13 passes defended were also team highs, with a 1.08 per-game average in the latter ranking tied for sixth in the conference at the end of the 2012 regular season. Williams contributed a career-high 70 tackles and was tied for 15th in the Pac-12 with an average of 6.7 stops per game. Cornerback Marc Anthony also recorded career highs of 52 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss (-18 yards), and a career-high-tying two interceptions that he returned for 64 yards in 2012. Ambrose was also responsible for the development of sophomore safeties Michael Lowe (69 tackles; three interceptions, 67 return yards; 3.0 TFL, -7 yards; 1.0 sacks, -1 yard; 1 pass breakup) and Avery Sebastian (56 tackles; 1.5 TFL, -5 yards; 1 pass breakup, 1 quarterback hurry) that combined for 12 starts between them.
Both safeties that Ambrose coached in 2011 - D.J. Campbell (Carolina) and Sean Cattouse (San Diego) - moved on to the NFL after earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors as a seniors in 2011. Campbell had career highs of 71 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss (-7 yards), two interceptions that he returned for 29 yards, and seven passes defended as well as a career-high-tying two fumble recoveries and his first career forced fumble. Cattouse tallied career highs of 76 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss (-7 yards), while adding two interceptions that he returned for 20 yards, four passes defended and 1.0 sack (-2 yards). Cattouse's average of 5.8 tackles per game was 23rd in the Pac-12, while Campbell's 5.5 were 31st. Cattouse was also tied for ninth in the conference with his average of .15 fumbles recovered per game. Anthony (1.18) and Williams (1.00) were fourth and fifth in the Pac-12, respectively, in passes defended per game in 2011.
Ambrose's defensive backs were significant contributors to a 2011 Cal defense that led the Pac-12 in both total defense (332.92 ypg) and pass defense (204.23 ypg), while ranking 25th and 37th nationally, respectively. The Bears were also second in the conference and 39th nationally in pass efficiency defense (122.06). Cal's defensive backs recorded 10 of the team's 12 interceptions that ranked fifth in the Pac-12. One of the team's 12 interceptions was returned 32 yards for a touchdown by Hill against Utah.
Before joining the Bears the 13-year NFL veteran and 1996 AFC Defensive Back of the Year spent three seasons on the Colorado football staff, including the 2010 campaign as the defensive backs coach. He served as the receivers coach in 2009 and was a defensive technical intern in 2008.
During his lone season working with the Colorado defensive backs in 2010, Ambrose coached senior Jimmy Smith to first-team All-Big 12 honors and helped him become a first-round selection of Baltimore (No. 27 pick overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft. As a senior in 2010, the cornerback recorded a career-high 70 tackles, including a team-best 52 solo stops. Smith, who also co-led the team with five pass breakups, was the only Colorado defensive player named to the All-Big 12 first or second team, improving his status from an honorable mention All-Big 12 choice the year before Ambrose coached him. Another 2010 Ambrose pupil, senior cornerback Jalil Brown, was an honorable mention selection for the second consecutive season and shared the team lead along with Smith with five pass breakups. Brown was taken in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Ambrose brought a wealth of professional football experience to a coaching career that began in 2006 as an intern coach with the Atlanta Falcons. After being selected by Indianapolis in the second round (29th pick overall) of the 1992 NFL Draft, he went on to play 13 seasons in the league, four with Indianapolis (1992-95), three with Cincinnati (1996-98), three with New Orleans (1999, 2003-04) and three with Atlanta (2000-02). He was the AFC Defensive Back of the Year and earned All-Pro honors with the Bengals in 1996 when he had a career-high eight interceptions that were tied for second in the NFL and one off the league lead. Ambrose posted career totals of 42 interceptions (tied for 66th all-time through the 2011 season) with three returned for touchdowns, 178 passes defended and 514 tackles (464 solo).
After 192 games and 141 NFL starts, he retired from professional football following the 2004 campaign.
Ambrose earned his bachelor's degree in industrial technology in 1992 from Mississippi Valley State, where he lettered four years at cornerback. He had 17 interceptions, 40 passes defended and 110 tackles, as well as seven kick returns for touchdowns (four punt, three kickoff) during his college playing career.
Ambrose has long been active in community service, as he developed the 'Ashley Ambrose All-A's Club' that rewarded high school football players who excelled academically. He also participated in VH-1's Save the Music program and in the NFL United Way Hometown Huddle campaign among his many community service endeavors as a professional athlete, which included donating hundreds of tickets to scholar-athletes.
A native of New Orleans, Ambrose graduated from Alcee Fortier High School in 1988, where he lettered in football, basketball, and track and field. Ashley and his wife, Melanie Zaharias-Ambrose, were married on May 25, 2012. He is the father of two children, Aisha and A.J.
LAST UPDATED: December 12, 2012