Kentucky has went full steam on hiring the right pieces to help make this program keep moving forward. On back to back days, Mark Stoops has made hires to his staff. Wednesday, Liam Coen was added to the staff as the new Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach, and Thursday afternoon Eric Wolford was hired in as the new Offensive Line Coach.
Eric Wolford is coming from his job with the South Carolina, where he spent the last four seasons at the OL Coach. Before coming back to Carolina, Wolford spent the previous two seasons (2015-16) in the NFL as the San Francisco 49ers assistant offensive line coach.
Prior to his stint with the 49ers, Wolford logged 19 seasons as a coach at the collegiate level, including five (2010-14) as the head coach at Youngstown State University. After a 3-8 mark in his first season, the Penguins compiled a 28-18 mark over his final four campaigns, were ranked in the top-10 three times, and broke 32 school records during his tenure. Highlights included a 2012 win over Pitt - the first win over a BCS team in school history, and a 2011 win over top-ranked North Dakota State, while overseeing the squad's highest GPA on record for four-consecutive seasons. He finished 31-26 overall at the helm.
Wolford also served as South Carolina's run game coordinator and offensive line coach in 2009 under head coach Steve Spurrier after a two-year stint at Illinois where he held a similar post. Under Wolford's tutelage, the Illini, who played in the 2008 Rose Bowl game, led the Big Ten in rushing (2007) and passing (2008), while topping the 5,000-yard mark in total offense for just the third and fourth times in school history. Wolford was a Rivals Top-20 National Recruiter in 2008.
Wolford spent three seasons (2004-06) at Arizona as the offensive line coach, where he was on the same staff as Mark Stoops. UA led the league in fewest sacks allowed in 2004 and was second in 2005. He was also an integral part of back-to-back top-25 recruiting classes.
Wolford spent the 2003 season at North Texas, where his offensive line paved the way for tailback Patrick Cobbs, who earned the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Award. Wolford also helped lead UNT to its third-consecutive bid to the New Orleans Bowl.
Before joining North Texas, Wolford enjoyed three-year stints at both Houston and South Florida. While at Houston, he coached a number of positions, spanning offense, defense and special teams. In 2002, Houston enjoyed a dramatic turnaround, going from a winless season to five victories. During that time, Wolford coached five all-conference players.
Wolford had the unique experience of coaching in the first three seasons of the USF football program, helping to lead the Bulls to two winning seasons. In year two, the offense put up over 400 yards per game.
Wolford began his coaching career at his alma mater, Kansas State, where he worked as a graduate assistant with the offensive line under John Latina. He then spent two years as the offensive line and strength coach at Emporia State.
Wolford was a four-year starter as an offensive guard at K-State under Bill Snyder. He went on to start 34 games in his career, including 21 at right guard and 13 at left guard. During his senior year, the Wildcats won the school's first bowl game in the 1993 Copper Bowl, defeating Wyoming. After college, Wolford signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals before returning to Manhattan to embark on his coaching career.
Eric Wolford is a Youngstown (Ohio) native, just like Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow. "I'm honored to have Eric Wolford join our staff," Stoops said. "I've known Eric and worked with Eric for a long time. I knew it would take a special person to fill this role and we found the best candidate. I know what we are getting with Eric Wolford and he will continue to build on the legacy that John Schlarman started. He's intense, he's detailed but he also has the unique ability to connect with people."
"I'm excited to come to Kentucky as the offensive line coach," Wolford said. "I've known Mark Stoops a long time and I've been very impressed with how he's built his program. I've had a front row seat, playing against Kentucky the last four years, and Kentucky is blue collar, they are tough, they have pride, they have attitude, and they have discipline. His strength coaches, Mark Hill and Corey Edmond, have done a great job in developing players and in recruiting, his staff has done a wonderful job of going out and finding players who can play in the SEC and at a high level.
"I'm blessed to have the opportunity to coach the 'Big Blue Wall," Wolford added, "I want to continue the legacy of John Schlarman. He was a wonderful man and watching film and seeing how his line played, it's not hard to see what a great offensive line coach he was. We are always going to remember Coach Schlarman in our room. Always."