Tyson Helton finalizes first staff as WKU head coach

WKU’s new head coach Tyson Helton speaks during coach his press conference as the new head coach of the Hilltoppers at the Harbaugh Club in Houchens-Smith Stadium Nov. 27 in Bowling Green.

Matt Stahl

New WKU football head coach Tyson Helton has finished his search for a new coaching staff to join him on the Hill.

WKU announced on Friday that Andy LaRussa will coach safeties and special teams and Mike Goff will coach the offensive line, following the departure of former offensive line coach T.J Woods to Utah State.

Both coaches come to the Hilltoppers after serving under Helton’s brother, Clay Helton, at Southern California.

LaRussa and Goff are the final hires for Helton, who kept former head coach Mike Sanford’s defensive staff intact, headed by defensive coordinator Clayton White.

WKU announced three additions to the staff on Tuesday: Montario Hardesty, running backs coach from Tennessee, Richard Owens, tight ends coach from Louisville, and Chris Chestnut, wide receivers coach from Tennessee State.

“I believe Coach Hardesty, Coach Owens, and Coach Chestnut are going to be fantastic motivators and teachers in their position rooms,” Helton said in a press release on Tuesday. “They bring a level of relatability to their rooms and will be great representatives for WKU on the recruiting trail and in the community. I’m excited to add them to our offensive staff.”

WKU previously announced that Bryan Ellis would be taking over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Ellis comes to WKU from USC, after previously coaching the Hilltoppers during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, calling the offensive plays in the 2016 Boca Raton Bowl after former head coach Jeff Brohm left for Purdue.

“From the beginning, we wanted this coaching staff to be comprised of men who can not only be excellent teachers for our student-athletes but also great mentors and motivators,” Helton said in a release on Dec. 4. “I believe we have accomplished that to this point in the process. Our offensive staff will bring an exciting brand of football back to The Hill, and our defensive staff is comprised of veterans who have the total trust of our players.”

The new coaches will have to get to work right away, as the early signing period for high school prospects begins on Dec. 19.

Reporter Matt Stahl can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @mattstahl97.