WKU has new faces on its coaching staff ahead of the 2021 regular season. Defensive coordinator Clayton White announced his departure from the Hill on Jan. 9 and will be the new DC at the University of South Carolina.
The first addition of the offseason was hiring offensive coordinator Zach Kittley.
Head coach Tyson Helton quickly found his new staff for the fall, promoting Maurice Crum to defensive coordinator, Stephen Hamby to offensive line coach, and hiring Carlos Lockyln as the running backs coach.
Crum is currently the longest tenured coach on the Hilltoppers staff. He will be entering his fifth year with WKU after spending time as the co-defensive coordinator during the 2020 season.
The former linebackers coach for the Hilltoppers was a part of a dominant 2019 WKU defense that ranked in the top 25. The Hilltoppers that season allowed 20.1 points per game.
'Attack' is word he used to describe his defensive style without hesitation.
“We want every facet of the defense to have an attacking mindset, and I think that works well with being competitive,” Crum said.
The former Notre Dame linebacker will use this aggressive mindset to increase the number of turnovers forced by the WKU defense. The Hilltoppers intercepted opposing quarterbacks six times in 12 games this past season, which ranked seventh in Conference USA.
“One of our things we talked about as a staff was just our approach in the weight room,” Crum said. “I think we have some guys with some good intentions, but I think having that pop behind you when you hit, that’s that extra oomph that gets the ball out.”
Stephen Hamby will spend his third season with WKU as the head honcho of the Hilltopper offensive line, after working with the line in a control role in his previous two years.
Hamby has been a part of an offensive line that is one of the best in the nation.
Prior to facing Georgia State University in the LendingTree Bowl, WKU ranked as No. 14 in the nation as an o-line. The Hilltoppers were No. 17 in the country in run blocking, while being the second best team in pass blocking.
In Hamby’s first year with the team, WKU ranked No. 20 as an offensive line, finishing as the best pass blocking team in the nation.
“Fierce, angry, from the jump,” Hamby said on how he would like to see his offensive line play. “My biggest three things are, I’m gonna teach you, I’m gonna develop you, and then on top of that I have to get something out of you personally.”
Once a powerful running back at the University of Chattanooga and for the New York Giants, Locklyn now finds himself in charge at WKU of the very position he once mastered.
Locklyn earned his new position as the running backs coach due to his successful eight years of High School coaching in Memphis, Tennessee.
His string of playoff appearances led to his recruitment to the University of Memphis for three years, where he assisted current Florida State University head coach Mike Norvell.
Locklyn followed Norvell down south where he spent the 2020 campaign as the director of high school relations, which was the same job he had in his final year with the Tigers.
The Hilltopper run game looks to get a big boost with the Locklyn hire, as WKU finished No. 11 in C-USA in rushing. The Hilltoppers put up just 126-yards per game on the ground.
The past is the past though in the mind of the former Moc running back, and it’s time for a new era to begin not only on the field but off of it as well.
“Just gonna pour into the guys,” Locklyn said. “My mind is not even set on what they did last year. My mind is on what we’re gonna do now. I can assure you this as a group in this room, the running back room, number one, we’re gonna be great citizens off the field.”
These three additions possess the duties of fighting for a third straight trip to a bowl game in 2021 under Helton’s lead.