Jan. 9, 2017
Eric Wolford has been named the University of South Carolina’s offensive line coach, Gamecocks’ head coach Will Muschamp announced today. It will mark Wolford’s second stint in Columbia, as he previously served on Steve Spurrier’s staff during the 2009 campaign. Wolford will replace Shawn Elliott, who was named the head coach at Georgia State University in December, pending official approval from the South Carolina Board of Trustees.
“I’m excited to have Eric come back to South Carolina and join our staff,” said Coach Muschamp. “He has a long history as an excellent offensive line coach and has the added experiences of being a head coach and being in the NFL, both of which make him even more of an asset to our staff moving forward.”
Wolford comes to South Carolina after having spent the past two seasons in the NFL as the San Francisco 49ers assistant offensive line coach. Prior to that, he logged 19 seasons as a coach at the collegiate level, including five (2010-14) as the head coach at Youngstown State University, an FCS school in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. The Penguins posted a 31-26 mark, were ranked in the top-10 three times, and broke 32 school records during his tenure. Highlights included a 2012 win over Pitt and a 2011 win over top-ranked North Dakota State.
“My family and I are excited about our return to the University of South Carolina,” said Wolford. “It is a privilege to be a part of the Gamecock family again. With such supportive, loyal fans and Coach Muschamp’s guidance, I am confident that this program, is moving in an explosive and positive direction. We are honored to be a part of the Gamecock family.”
Wolford served as South Carolina’s run game coordinator and offensive line coach in 2009 after a two-year stint at the University of Illinois where he held a similar position under head coach Ron Zook. In his two years at Illinois, Wolford helped the Illini lead the Big Ten Conference 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. In 2007, the Illini offensive line paved the way for a school-record 3,338 rushing yards, as Rashard Mendenhall broke school records for rushing yards (1,681), overall touchdowns (19) and rushing touchdowns (17). The offensive line allowed just 16 sacks, a school record and the second-fewest in the Big Ten. Individual honors followed, with left guard Martin O’Donnell earning Associated Press First-Team All-America honors. In 2008, Illinois led the Big Ten by averaging 269.3 yards through the air and three members of the offensive line earned postseason accolades. In addition, Wolford was considered a Rivals.com Top-20 National Recruiter in 2008.
Wolford came to Illinois with 13 years of collegiate coaching experience, spending the previous three seasons with the Arizona Wildcats as offensive line coach. During that time, UA led the league in fewest sacks allowed in 2004 and was second 2005. Wolford tutored two All-Pac-10 performers on the offensive line in Peter Graniello and Eben Britton, who also was named a Sporting News All-American in 2006. In addition to his strong coaching skills, Wolford was an integral part of Arizona's 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. He rushed for a league-record 1,690 yards, earning the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Award. Cobbs averaged 152 yards and 11.5 points per game, leading the NCAA. The offensive line blocked for a rushing average of 177.5 yards per game, which ranked 35th nationally, allowed only 18 sacks during the season and posted an 88 percent efficiency rating in the redzone. For their efforts, two Mean Green linemen, Andy Brewster and Nick Zuniga earned first-team all-conference honors. 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. The team also ended on a high note, defeating nationally-ranked Louisville in the finale. During that time, Wolford coached five all-conference players.
Wolford had the unique experience of coaching in the first three seasons of the South Florida football program, helping to lead the Bulls to two winning seasons in three years. In year two of the building process, the offense put up over 400 yards per game, including 191.5 rushing yards per contest. Running back Dyral McMillan became the school's first 1,000-yard rusher that year.
Wolford began his coaching career at his alma mater, Kansas State, where he served as a graduate assistant and worked with the offensive line under the direction of offensive line coach John Latina. From there, he spent two seasons as the offensive line and strength coach at Emporia State.
Wolford was a four-year starter at Kansas State under Bill Snyder, and his teams laid the groundwork for the program's emergence on the national stage. During his senior year, the Wildcats won the school's first bowl game in the 1993 Copper Bowl. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1994 in social sciences with a focus on monetary policy and banking. After college, Wolford signed a free agent contract with Buddy Ryan's Arizona Cardinals.
Born April 5, 1971, Wolford and his wife, Dr. Melinda Wolford, have a son, Stone, and a daughter, Marlee. Eric and Melinda started a non-profit organization, inspired by their son, called the No Stone Unturned Foundation. The Foundation raises money for research and to assist families of children with neurological differences.
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