Kirby Wilson enters his first season with the Oakland Raiders as running backs coach, bringing with him 21 years of NFL coaching experience.
During his time in the NFL, Wilson has coached four running backs who rank in the top-15 in career rushing yards (Emmitt Smith-1, Curtis Martin-5, Adrian Peterson-8, Edgerrin James-13) and two of the top four all-time reception leaders among running backs (Larry Centers-1, Keith Byars-4). He has produced nine 1,000-yard seasons from his running backs and has mentored four different players to the Pro Bowl. Wilson has been to the playoffs with four different franchises, highlighted by victories in Super Bowl XXXVII with Tampa in 2002 and Super Bowl XLIII with Pittsburgh in 2008, and has been a part of teams that have won six division titles and advanced to the postseason eight times.
Wilson served as the running backs coach last season in Arizona after previously coaching in the same capacity for the Cardinals from 2004-06. He saw RB David Johnson become the fastest player in franchise history to reach 30 career rushing TDs (42 games) as he reached double-digit touchdowns in a season for the third time in his career with 10 (seven rushing, three receiving). Johnson also finished eighth in the league in total scrimmage yards (1,386). Additionally, Wilson helped mentor rookie RB Chase Edmonds, who appeared in all 16 games and contributed to the run game with 60 carries, 208 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Wilson spent the previous two seasons (2016-17) as the run game coordinator/running backs coach with the Cleveland Browns. During that time, only Buffalo (4.75 avg.) had a better team rushing average than the Browns (4.67 avg.). In 2017, the Browns recorded the sixth-best rushing average in the NFL (4.46 avg.). RB Duke Johnson finished the 2017 season with 1,041 scrimmage yards, including a team-leading 693 receiving yards, as he became the first running back in NFL history since Herschel Walker to record 500-plus receiving yards in each of his first three seasons. Cleveland’s 4.89 rushing average in 2016 finished second in the NFL and ranked as the seventh-best average in team history.
Prior to Cleveland, Wilson spent two seasons (2014-15) with Minnesota, where he helped Peterson capture the NFL rushing title with 1,485 yards in 2015. Peterson’s rushing total marked the fourth-highest single-season total in club history. In 2014, RB Matt Asiata tallied nine rushing touchdowns and tied for third-most in the NFL.
Wilson coached Pittsburgh’s running backs for seven seasons (2007-13) before his time in Cleveland. In 2013, rookie RB Le’Veon Bell broke the Steelers rookie record for most yards from scrimmage (1,259). During the 2009-10 seasons, Wilson coached RB Rashard Mendenhall to back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns. In Wilson’s first season in Pittsburgh, Willie Parker led the NFL with 1,316 rushing yards through Week 16 before missing the final game of the season with a leg injury. His 1,316 yards on the ground that season stood as the sixth-best total in club annals.
In his first tour with Arizona, Wilson coached running backs for three seasons from 2004-06. In 2006, Cardinals RB Edgerrin James rushed for 1,159 yards, marking his sixth season with 1,000-plus yards.
Wilson served as the running backs coach in Tampa Bay from 2002-03. In his first season with the Buccaneers, RBs Michael Pittman and Aaron Stecker, along with FB Mike Alstott collectively gained over 1,400 rushing yards en route to an NFC Championship and Super Bowl XXXVII victory. Under Wilson’s direction that season, Alstott earned his sixth Pro Bowl nod.
In between NFL stops, Wilson spent one season as the wide receivers coach at USC under head coach Pete Carroll in 2001.
In 2000, Wilson helped Redskins RB Stephen Davis reach the Pro Bowl after posting the fourth-highest rushing total (1,318) at the time in Redskins history. In addition, FB Larry Centers led Washington with 81 receptions that season.
From 1997-99, Wilson served as the running backs coach for New England Patriots, where he tutored a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Patriots RBs Curtis Martin and Robert Edwards. To this day, the two rushers hold two of the top-12 single-season totals in Patriots history.
Prior to working with the Patriots, Wilson spent nine seasons coaching in college at Iowa State (1995-96), Wyoming (1993-94), Southern Illinois (1991-92), Los Angeles Southwest CC (1989-90) and Pasadena CC (1985). Under his guidance at Iowa State, RB Troy Davis earned All-American honors and led the nation with more than 2,000 yards rushing in both 1995 and 1996— the only player in NCAA history to reach the 2,000- yard rushing mark in consecutive seasons. In his first year at Wyoming, the Cowboys won the 1993 WAC title and played in the Copper Bowl.
PERSONAL: Native of Los Angeles, Calif. …Earned a degree in Psychology from Eastern Illinois in 1989…Played two seasons in the CFL as a defensive back and kick returner for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1983) and Toronto Argonauts (1984)…Attended the University of Illinois (1980-81) where he played running back and wide receiver…Attended Pasadena Community College (1979-80)…Was on the football and track teams at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, Calif. …Has three sons, Kris, Michael and Tyler, and two daughters, Malia and Savanna.