BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU’s newly minted head coach Jeff Brohm wasted no time filling his former position, naming Tyson Helton, formerly of Cincinnati, as the new Hilltopper offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Wednesday.
Helton comes to The Hill after serving one season as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach on Tommy Tuberville’s first coaching staff at UC. The Bearcats went 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the American Athletic Conference with an appearance in the Belk Bowl against North Carolina.
The 13-year veteran coached First-Team All-American Athletic Conference selections Blake Annen (TE) and Ralph David Abernathy IV (KR) in 2013. He was also part of a staff that produced the most prolific offensive unit in Cincinnati history. The Bearcats set the school record with 6,137 yards of total offense and led the American Athletic Conference, averaging 472.1 yards per game.
He moved to UC after six seasons at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. During 2012, he coached the running backs and served as the program's recruiting coordinator, a staff which also featured Brohm as the Blazers’ quarterback coach.
In 2012, Helton mentored Darrin Reaves, a First-Team All-Conference USA selection who rushed for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. Reaves became the Blazers' only first-team, all-conference running back selection in school history, and the first Blazer all-league running back pick overall since the 2004 season.
Reaves registered the highest rushing total (223) in a game in Conference USA in 2012, posting that number against Southern Miss (Nov. 3, 2012). In a three-game stretch vs. Tulane, Southern Miss and Marshall, Reaves averaged 191 yards per game, while his rushing touchdown total (13) established a new UAB single-season record. He also had 41 receptions (302 yards) in 2012.
Helton spent his previous five seasons at UAB coaching the quarterbacks. Under Helton's guidance, Joe Webb developed into one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NCAA history. In 2009 Webb became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in back-to-back seasons. While working at UAB, Helton was on staff with Brohm (2012) and WKU offensive line coach Neil Callaway (2007-11).
Webb finished the season ranked sixth nationally in total offense at 310.5 yards per game and was No. 9 in pass efficiency. Webb also shattered his own Conference USA record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,427, ranking No. 1 in the country among signal-callers.
In 2009, the Blazer offense tallied 5,111 yards, the most in school history. In 2010, UAB again had a potent offense as the unit finished with 5,074 yards, second-highest in school history. Under Helton's tutelage, quarterback Bryan Ellis passed for 2,940 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Helton joined the Blazers after three years at Memphis, where he coached special teams and tight ends. While working on the Tigers' staff under head coach Tommy West, the Memphis special teams prospered under his guidance.
In 2005, UM kicker Stephen Gostkowski, now with the NFL's New England Patriots, was responsible for nearly one-third of the team's scoring and was named the Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year.
Gostkowski is Memphis' all-time leading scorer with 369 points and was the first kicker chosen in the 2006 NFL Draft. Prior to joining the program at Memphis, Helton spent four years as a member of June Jones' staff at Hawai'i. He arrived on the Manoa campus in 2000 as a graduate assistant and worked with the Warriors' special teams.
In 2001, Helton's first season as a full-time coach, the Warriors led the nation in kickoff return yardage and broke the NCAA record for average gain per return (30.3). Under Helton, return specialist Chad Owens tied the NCAA record with two kick returns for a touchdown in a game and also broke the NCAA record for most yards gained on kick return.
Helton, the brother of Southern California assistant coach Clay Helton and the son of former NFL and collegiate coach Kim Helton.
Helton, 36, earned his bachelor's degree in business at Houston in 1999 after a four-year career with the Cougars at quarterback. He and his wife, April, have two daughters, Shelby Grace (10) and Presley (8), and twin boys Cole and Clay (5).
THE TYSON HELTON FILE
Born: June 20, 1977
Hometown: Gainesville, Fla.
High School: Clements HS
College: Houston, ‘99
Children: Shelby, Presley, Cole, Clay
PLAYING CAREER (Quarterback)
High School: Clements High
College: Houston (1996-99)
2000: Hawai’i (Graduate Assistant)
2001-03: Hawai’i (Special Teams)
2004-06: Memphis (Tight Ends/Special Teams)
2007-11: UAB (Quarterbacks)
2012: UAB (Running Backs)
2013: Cincinnati (Tight Ends/Special Teams)
2014: WKU (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)