Keith Burns, a veteran of 28 years in the collegiate coaching ranks, joins the Oakland Raiders in 2012 as assistant special teams coach. Burns comes to the Silver and Black after serving as secondary coach at Mississippi in 2011.
Burns has coached on two occasions in Northern California, serving in various roles at the Pacific (1985-88) and San Jose State (2004-09). He has been both an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator at the collegiate level and served as head coach at Tulsa for three seasons from 2000-02.
Burns joined the staff at Ole Miss after directing a heralded Kansas State secondary in 2010. Under his watch, safety Ty Zimmerman was named Freshman All-America, while defensive backs Stephen Harrison and Terrance Sweeney earned All-Big 12 honors.
Prior to his stint in Manhattan, Burns spent six seasons on the staff at San Jose State, including three as defensive coordinator. In 2009, the Spartans finished 22nd nationally in pass defense, and in 2008, Burns’ unit ranked in the top-20 nationally in tackles for loss (seventh), passing defense (10th) and sacks (11th). The Spartans also finished 21st nationally in both points allowed and turnover margin.
The Spartans were 9-4 in 2006, with wins over Stanford and New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl, and finished with the program’s most victories in a season since 1987.
As cornerbacks coach, Burns mentored three NFL draft choices in his final three seasons at San Jose State. Dwight Lowery became SJSU’s first two-time, first-team All-America selection and was a 2008 fourth-round pick of the New York Jets. Christopher Owens, a two-time All-WAC corner, was a 2009 third-round choice by Atlanta, while Coye Francies was taken in the sixth round of the 2009 draft by the Cleveland Browns. In all, Burns has coached 14 players that have gone on to have successful careers in the professional ranks.
Burns was the head coach at Tulsa from 2000-02, when his teams were the basis for the Golden Hurricanes’ 2003 Humanitarian Bowl appearance. His first team in 2000 went 5-7 to give Tulsa its most wins in eight seasons.
Prior to arriving at Tulsa, Burns served as defensive coordinator at Arkansas for two seasons (1998-99). During his tenure, Arkansas made consecutive bowl appearances, and following the 1998 campaign, Burns was one of five finalists for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Prior to Arkansas, he spent five seasons under John Robinson at USC, the final four as defensive coordinator. While at USC, his defensive units ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense in 1994, first in the Pac-10 in scoring defense in 1995, second in total defense in 1996, and first in rushing defense in 1997.
Burns also coordinated the defense at Pacific (1986-87) and was offensive coordinator for the Tigers for one season (1988). He also spent time at Rice as defensive pass coordinator and special teams coordinator (1989-92). He began his coaching career at Arkansas as a graduate assistant (1984) and served as an assistant coach (defensive backs/special teams) for one season (1985).
A native of Hurst, Texas, Burns was a three-time letterwinner at Arkansas (1980-82). He and his wife, Yvonne, have three children.
Jeanette Thompson hosts this Wednesday episode; Raiders players talk about Sunday's match-up with the Chiefs and we take a ride on the NFL Play 60 bus.