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What Virginia football fans need to know about Des Kitchings

uva footballVirginia head football coach Tony Elliott is reportedly interested in naming Des Kitchings, the current running backs coach for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, as his offensive coordinator.

Kitchings is a young one, 43, a 2000 alum of Furman, where he was a consensus All-SoCon wideout and I-AA All-America kick returner, with four returns for TDs in his career.

He bounced around the NFL as a practice-squad guy for four seasons before returning to Furman in 2004 to begin his coaching career, spending four seasons at his alma mater as the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.

Of note here: Elliott also has a stop at Furman on his resume, but he and Kitchings didn’t work together there. Elliott was at Furman from 2008-2010.

Kitchings moved on to Vanderbilt in 2008, and in his final season at Vandy, in 2010, Kitchings was elevated to offensive coordinator, at the ripe old age of 32.

Commodores head coach Robbie Caldwell, who had replaced Bobby Johnson in the summer, would step down after just one season, a 2-10 campaign.

New coach James Franklin brought in his own staff, which included a guy named Brent Pry, who would follow him to Penn State and is now the new head coach at Virginia Tech.

Kitchings, for his part, moved on from Vanderbilt to a year at Air Force before a lengthy run at NC State, coaching running backs and tight ends, then adding the recruiting coordinator title for five seasons, from 2014-2018.

Kitchings then did a one-year stint as running backs coach at South Carolina in 2020 before joining the staff at Atlanta this season.

How Kitchings would fit in

Presumably, Elliott is waiting on the NFL season to end before formally hiring Kitchings. Atlanta is currently sitting in ninth in the NFC playoff race with a 7-8 record, and is very much in the thick of things for a wild-card berth, so we’re looking at two, maybe three weeks at the least.

A Kitchings hire might mean that Elliott may be moving on from Missouri co-offensive coordinator Curtis Luper.

Earlier reports had Elliott interested in bringing Luper on, but Luper’s experience as a position coach is at running backs and wideouts.

With Kitchings, you get a young guy with 18 years of coaching experience, all but one year in the southeast, spanning FCS, the SEC, the ACC and the NFL.

And he has five years as a recruiting coordinator, and during that time, NC State was ranked 30th, 35th, 43rd, 53rd and 34th nationally by Rivals.

His one year as an offensive coordinator was so long ago that it would be hard to glean much from that.

His experience in terms of position coaching is at running back and tight end, so Elliott, if Kitchings is the guy, would still be on the lookout for a QB coach, with Bronco Mendenhall’s QB coach, Jason Beck, following offensive coordinator Robert Anae to Syracuse.

Marques Hagans, who served as the wideouts coach under Anae at Virginia, could be a candidate for QB coach on the Elliott staff.

Hagans played at wideout and was starting QB at Virginia as an undergrad, before playing wideout in the NFL for four seasons in St. Louis, Kansas City and Washington.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press