Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kirby Wilson is a candidate for Aggie football job

Pittsburgh’s Wilson could be possible candidate
By Felix Chavez
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Pittsburgh Steelers running back coach Kirby Wilson’s name has emerged as a possible candidate for the New Mexico State head football job.
The 46-year-old Wilson was a finalist for the head coaching job in 2004 when the job when to Hal Mumme, who was fired on Tuesday after four years on the job.
New Mexico State Athletics Director McKinley Boston said Wilson was a strong finalist in 2004 and hinted at a possible meeting with the Steelers running backs coach.
Boston said he plans on hitting the road on Friday to work on hiring the new coach.
Wilson has an extensive coaching background. He’s coached for 19 years at the collegiate and professional levels.
Wilson helped coach Willie Parker into leading the NFL in rushing through the first 16 weeks in 2007. His run ended when Parker broke his leg, ending his season, on the first play from scrimmage in the second-to-last game of the season. Parker also earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection under Wilson’s direction.
He also coached for the Arizona Cardinals from 2004-06 after spending two seasons as running backs coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-03).
After one season (2001) as wide receiver coach at Southern California, Wilson joined head coach Jon Gruden’s staff in Tampa Bay in 2002. That season, the trio of running backs Michael Pittman and Aaron Stecker and Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott collectively gained over 1,400 rushing yards and helped the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl XXXVII victory over Oakland. His 2003 backfield duo of Pittman (751 yards rushing/597 receiving) and Thomas Jones (627 yards rushing/180 receiving) accounted for nearly 40 percent (2,155) of the Bucs’ 5,453 total net yards. Pittman’s 75 pass receptions led all NFC running backs and were a single-season career-high.
Prior to his stint with the Buccaneers, Wilson spent four years as running backs coach with the New England Patriots (1997-99) and Washington Redskins (2000), tutoring a trio of running backs, including Patriots backs Curtis Martin (1997) and Robert Edwards (1998), and later Redskins running back Stephen Davis (2000). In addition, Wilson honed the skills of Washington fullback Larry Centers, who led his team with 80 pass receptions in 2000. Centers (827 pass receptions) and Keith Byars (610 receptions), whom Wilson coached in New England in 1997, rank one and three in career receptions by a running back in NFL history (Marshall Faulk is no. 2 at 723).
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Meanwhile, Nebraska assistant coach Marvin Sanders said Tuesday night he has not been contacted by NMSU officials for the head coaching job nor has he applied for the job. Sanders is the secondary coach at Nebraska and was an assistant coach for the Aggies in 2000 under head coach Tony Samuel.
Sanders called Las Cruces an unique area and a place he enjoyed being around.
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New Mexico State running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Earnest Wilson said Tuesday night he hasn’t decided whether he will apply for the head coaching job.
Earnest Wilson spent a big part of the day handling the day-to-day operations of the football program.
He said returning players are concerned and have questions about the future of the program, but he added that this is a time to be calm and just be patient to see how things work out as the NMSU administration works on hiring a new coach.
Earnest Wilson said Tuesday was a hectic day and it was a learning experience for him.

Felix Chavez can be reached at fchavez@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5444