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Eric Wolford officially named offensive line coach

University of South Carolina Athletics

University of South Carolina Athletics

It’s official: Eric Wolford is leaving South Carolina to coach Kentucky’s offensive line, UK head coach Mark Stoops announced Thursday.

Wolford, a 25-year coaching veteran at the collegiate and NFL levels, comes to Kentucky after spending the last four seasons as the offensive line coach at South Carolina.

“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.”

This season at South Carolina, Wolford’s unit helped pave the way for running back Kevin Harris to lead the Southeastern Conference in rushing and rewrite the Gamecock record books. Harris finished the regular season with 1,138 yards rushing, just the ninth player in school history to rush for 1,000-plus yards in a season. He had five 100-yard games, including two with 200-plus yards, joining George Rogers and Marcus Lattimore as the only players in school history with multiple 200-yard games.

“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.”

In 2019, the offensive line helped five different running backs rush for more than 100 yards in a game.

In 2018, Carolina went 7-6 and advanced to the Belk Bowl. The Gamecocks averaged 30.1 points, 152.8 yards rushing, 272.8 yards passing and 425.6 total yards, the best marks since 2014. They had five games of 500 yards or more for the first time in school history, including back-to-back games of 600 yards against Chattanooga and Clemson. In his first season at Carolina, the Gamecocks finished 9-4 and defeated Michigan in the Outback Bowl, 26-19.

Carolina’s number of sacks allowed dipped from 41 in 2016, the year prior to Wolford’s arrival, to 29 in 2017 and to 23 in 2018, the fewest since the 2013 season. Even more impressively, in SEC play the sacks allowed number dropped from 31 in 2016, to 18 in 2017, to just 12 in 2018.

Off the field, Wolford was named a top-25 recruiter by Rivals following the 2018 February signing date.

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.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Wolford, 49, attended Ursuline High School where he was enshrined into the school’s athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

He received his bachelor’s degree in social sciences with a focus on monetary policy and banking from Kansas State in 1994. He and his wife, Melinda, have two children, Stone and Marlee.

Eric and Melinda started a non-profit organization, inspired by their son, Stone, who was diagnosed with Cardiofaciocutaneous Syndrome (CFC Syndrome) as a baby. Their foundation is called the No Stone Unturned Foundation and is dedicated to embracing, engaging, and empowering children with special needs and their families, with a major focus on any child with any disability. For more information on the No Stone Unturned Foundation, visit the website here:

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

35 Comments for Eric Wolford officially named offensive line coach

  1. Bluehender
    9:47 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

    Let the negative comments begin…

    • Bluehender
      9:48 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      …for my concern, sounds like a pretty good hire

    • 4everUKBlue
      9:48 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      I’m just curious about hiring from a team that we already own, and I don’t know anything about him, just seems a little funny. Don’t mean for this to be a negative comment.

    • Bluehender
      9:50 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know anything about him except what I just read. I’m curious too. Seems like a blue collar type of guy. You need that in the trenches

    • 4everUKBlue
      9:51 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      I just hope he’s more successful here than he was at S. Carolina.

    • Bluehender
      10:01 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t know much about how their offensive line performed, but on the whole you’re right. They weren’t very successful as a team

    • danielscott52
      4:16 pm December 17, 2020 Permalink

      He had a lot of success at South Carolina lol

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:05 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Sounds like a good hire to me. They didn’t talk about pass blocking though, only run blocking. I’m sure C-rod & Smoke will get their yards, so let’s hope the pass blocking will be there too.

      He’s well traveled BTW, so there’s always the question of how long will someone stay. Does anyone know if Beamer going to keep him on, or was he shown the door?

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:06 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Oh never mind, it says he’s leaving SC. At least officially. I suppose there’s still the chance he saw some writing on the wall.

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:09 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      What about the new guy who temporarily took over for Schlarman? Is he staying on? If so, what position?

    • UoKFB PHAN
      1:09 pm December 17, 2020 Permalink

      @ chris gettelfinger – you bring up a good point. I think our O-line was better at run blocking than pass blocking. Not that they were that bad at pass blocking, but it appeared from just watching the game on TV that they did a better job run blocking.

      Other than sacks I don’t know what type of stats are kept on pass protection, maybe QB hurries or knockdowns. I would think the decline in sacks is a good sign but then with multiple OCs and perhaps different QBs who knows. It could have been due to improvement in O-line play, fewer pass plays called or a QB who knew when to run or throw it away. That said, I’m going to look at the reduced sacks as at least partially due to better line blocking which is a good sign. The big question I have is can the guy recruit, especially in GA & FL? Let’s hope he made some good connections in SC & NC.

  2. Bluehender
    10:01 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

    Are you staying healthy 4ever?

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:10 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Absolutely I am Bluehender. How about you?

    • Bluehender
      10:13 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      4ever, my problem right now is my wife likes to bake goodies for Christmas and I like to eat them. The older I get the more sugar seems to be a problem for me. I think it’s a poison for your body and right now, ima little overloaded, lol. Other than that I’m doing well. Thanks

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:10 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      And thanks for asking.

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:16 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Sugar is the most addictive substance there is and it’s in almost everything. It causes all sorts of health issues and almost impossible to kick, I struggle with it too. Here is some info you really should go over thoroughly before you take any vaccine.

    • Bluehender
      10:18 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Thanks 4ever. I figured you would know a little about it. I’ll check that article out..

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:16 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      And you’re right, sugar is poison to our bodies.

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:23 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      I do know a little about it but I still struggle with it, I looked into it quite a bit, it causes inflammation among many other things. I’ve known since my 20’s how bad sugar is for you but it’s so hard to detox from. I wanted to try a 10 day detox and haven’t been able to do one so far.

    • Bluehender
      10:29 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Yeah I seem to struggle more with the little aches and pains right now and I can see and feel the inflamation side effect of it. After the holidays I will try a little detoxing myself. Much less sugar and lots of water will be where I will start. But like you, I struggle with the addictiveness (is that a word) of sugar.

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:30 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Bluehender you will notice the hot links take you straight to the site, if you trust the FDA.

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:34 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Not sure if that’s a word or not but I know quite a lot about addiction, but sugar is a beast. You’ll have to be very vigilant when grocery shopping and that may be almost impossible is you buy any processed foods, organic when possible is the way to go.

    • Bluehender
      10:37 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Thumbs up emojee,here

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:34 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      *if not is…

  3. Pensacola_Cat_Fan
    10:16 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

    I think this is a great hire

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:18 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t know enough to know, I hope you’re right.

    • Pensacola_Cat_Fan
      10:22 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      From my research (which is albeit limited) I think we’ll take a little step back in run blocking but improve in pass blocking. This guy has worked with a number of different schemes with pretty good results which bodes well next year as we implement a new offense. Fingers crossed.

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:43 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t even know enough to know how to research it so I’ll take your word Pensacola.

    • clarks
      11:39 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Wow dude has been successful at every stop it sound and top 25 recruiter twice is added bonus as well

  4. clarks
    11:40 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

    Cant blame him for USC failures, that dude couldn’t win at florida, what u expect at usc

    • 4everUKBlue
      11:56 am December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Really having trouble deciphering your comments. Might try proofreading before you submit.

    • east-ky-boy
      12:42 pm December 17, 2020 Permalink

      He means muschamp couldn’t win at Florida so how could he win at South Carolina. Can’t blame the O line coach for those loses. It’s a great hire.

    • 4everUKBlue
      12:55 pm December 17, 2020 Permalink

      Thanks for breaking the code east-ky. He completely left Muschamps name out of it, I thought it was something along those lines but I wondered why he wasn’t able to convey that in his comments.

  5. CJKAssassin123
    12:03 pm December 17, 2020 Permalink

    We just need a RB coach and a ST coach and maybe WR coach and then I think we are golden.

    • CJKAssassin123
      12:03 pm December 17, 2020 Permalink

      It’s a wrap!