UK taps Boulware for RB/special teams position

Published 5:13 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2022

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University of Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops has named Jay Boulware as the running backs coach and special teams coordinator.

“I’m thrilled to add Jay to our staff at Kentucky,” Stoops said. “I’ve known Jay from his time with my brother Bob at Oklahoma. I’ve always been impressed with him and his work ethic. He brings a wide range of experience coaching running backs and in recruiting, along with his expertise and success with special teams. That’s what I was looking for in this position and Jay is well-regarded in all those areas.”

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Boulware, originally of Irving, Texas, has more than 25 years of coaching experience and has been a part of 16 teams that advanced to bowl games. Most recently, he served as an offensive intern for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, working specifically with the running backs, including UK’s all-time leading rusher, Benny Snell Jr.

Before the Steelers, he served as the associate head coach for special teams and tight ends coach at Texas, helping the No. 19 Longhorns finish 7-3 overall and capture the Alamo Bowl title in 2020.

“I want to thank Coach Stoops for giving me this amazing opportunity,” Boulware said. “I’ve known and worked with the Stoops family for many years, and I’ve followed Mark’s career for a long time. I’m honored to be on his coaching staff as I have the utmost respect for him and the work he’s done at Kentucky. I’m looking forward to helping him continue the success he’s built here in the Bluegrass.”

Prior to Texas, he spent seven years at Oklahoma, working under then-head coach Bob Stoops from 2013-16 and Lincoln Riley from (2017-19) as the special teams coordinator along with serving five seasons as the running backs coach and two years as the tight ends coach. Under his tutelage, the Sooners’ special teams produced 10 touchdowns, a safety and three returned two-point PATs.

Boulware guided six of his running backs at OU to 1,000-yard seasons and five of his running backs earned first or second-team All-Big 12 honors with three players drafted in the NFL.

In 2019, the Oklahoma offense led the Big 12 and ranked 14th nationally in rushing yards (204.2 ypg), along with ranking fifth in the nation in yards per carry (5.95). The team finished 12-2 overall with an appearance in the Peach Bowl (CFP Semifinal) vs. LSU. Running back Kennedy Brooks earned second-team All-Big 12 honors, leading the team with 1,011 rushing yards and ranking ninth in the nation in yards per carry at 6.52. Brooks, Rhamondre Stevenson and Trey Sermon combined for 1,911 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. Moreover, Stevenson led the nation by averaging an impressive 8.05 yards per carry.

The Sooners’ special teams ranked in the top 40 nationally in kickoff return defense (33rd/19.21 ypr) and net punting (31st/40.16 ypp). Placekicker Gabe Brkic did not miss a field goal (17-of-17) or an extra point (52-of-52), led the nation with a perfect field goal percentage and was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

Boulware presided over a 2018 running backs group that helped Oklahoma lead the nation in yards per carry (6.6). Brooks ranked third nationally with 8.9 yards per rush (minimum 9.0 carries per game) and was a USA Today Freshman All-American (1,056 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns), while Sermon ran for 947 yards and 13 TDs.

Kicker/punter Austin Seibert, who in 2018 was named Oklahoma’s first-ever Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, finished his career as the all-time FBS scoring leader among kickers, as his 499 points set school and Big 12 records. He went on to be drafted in the fifth round by the Cleveland Browns.

The Sooners won the Big 12 championship in 2018 and ended the season in the Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal) vs. Alabama with a 12-2 overall record and a top-five finish in the national polls.

In 2017, Oklahoma led the Big 12 with 217.8 rushing yards per contest. Running back Rodney Anderson ranked 20th in the nation in rushing yards per carry with 6.28, 26th with 13 rushing touchdowns and 35th with 1,161 rushing yards. The Sooners also won the Big 12 championship that season, concluding the season with a No. 3 ranking and an appearance in the Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal) vs. Georgia.

Boulware oversaw one of the nation’s top running back tandems in 2015 and 2016, resulting in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon both declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft. Perine, Oklahoma’s all-time rushing leader (4,122 yards), ran for 2,409 yards and 28 TDs after Boulware moved to running backs coach, while Mixon ran for 2,027 yards and 17 TDs his last two years. Mixon also caught 65 passes for 894 yards and nine TDs.

Boulware’s 2015 punt unit led the nation by allowing just 1.09 yards per return (12 yards on 11 returns). Austin Seibert was a Ray Guy Award semifinalist.

Boulware served as tight ends coach at Oklahoma in 2013-14, helping former quarterback Blake Bell become a fourth-round draft pick as a tight end, a position he had never played prior to 2014.

On special teams, he mentored RB Alex Ross, who finished third in the nation on kickoff return yards (31.2 average) in 2014 and tied for second among FBS players with two kickoff return touchdowns.

Kicker Michael Hunnicutt concluded his career under Boulware as the all-time leading scorer in Oklahoma history at that time with 450 points, which ranked sixth in FBS history. Hunnicutt made a Big 12-record 75 career field goals, set an Oklahoma single-season record with 24 made FGs in 2013 and was named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

The Sooners registered three special teams TDs in 2013, including one on a fake field goal in a 33-24 win at Oklahoma State. WR Jalen Saunders ranked ninth in the FBS with a 15.4-yard punt return average that year, and Oklahoma led the Big 12 and was eighth in the FBS with a 14.2 average, including two punt return touchdowns.

Boulware also has spent time at Iowa State, Auburn, Stanford and Utah. While at Auburn, he recruited the SEC’s all-time leading scorer Daniel Carlson. The All-American placekicker set 14 Auburn kicking records and was a Lou Groza finalist three times. He earned the SEC Special Team Player of the Year award two straight seasons and went on to be drafted in the fifth round by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2018.  He currently kicks for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Boulware began his full-time coaching career at Northern Illinois, where he coached tight ends (1997) and served as co-offensive line coach (1998-2000). One of his star pupils with the Huskies was Ryan Diem, who spent 11 seasons as an offensive lineman with the Indianapolis Colts.