After a few twists in the road, USC’s next RB coach appears to be Utah’s Kiel McDonald:
38-year-old Kiel McDonald, in his fifth season as Utah’s running backs coach in 2021, has progressively elevated the running game in each of his four seasons. Utah led the Pac-12 in rushing in 2019 as senior Zack Moss achieved his third consecutive 1,000-yard season and became Utah’s all-time leading rusher.
The play of the running backs was key to Utah’s highly successful 2019 season that saw the team win eight Pac-12 games in a row and earn a second consecutive Pac-12 title. Moss was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and earned All-America recognition from Pro Football Focus (1st team), FWAA (2nd team), CBS Sports (2nd team) and the AP (3rd team). He was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award while setting six school records and tying two, and was selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft by Buffalo.
In addition to breaking Utah’s all-time rushing record (4,067), which had stood for 31 years, Moss broke career records for carries (712), 100-yard rushing games (18), rushing touchdowns (38), total touchdowns (41) and all-purpose plays (778), and tied records for career 200-yard rushing games (2) and single-season rushing touchdowns (15). Utah’s running backs scored 34 rushing touchdowns in 2019, two shy of the school record.
Under McDonald’s guidance in his junior year, Moss broke the 1,000-yard mark despite playing in just nine games because of injury. Moss averaged 121.8 yards per game (sixth in school single-season history) and was named second-team All-Pac-12.
In a shortened 2020 season, McDonald saw the Utah running back crew finished the season ranked third in the Pac-12 in average yards per rush (5.1), led by Ty Jordan, who was named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and all-Pac-12 second-team. Jordan, who tragically passed away after the 2020 season, also earned Freshman All-America honors by The Athletic after his 119.4 rushing yards per game ranked No. 1 among freshmen in the FBS (9th overall).
Before coming to Utah, McDonald spent five years at Eastern Washington from 2012-16, where he was also the co-special teams’ coordinator. The Eagles made the FCS playoffs four times during his time there and advanced to the national semifinals in 2012, 2013 and 2016.
While best known for its passing attack (Eastern Washington averaged an FCS-best 401.0 passing yards per game in 2016), McDonald quickly shored up its run game. Inheriting a run game that averaged just 79.0 yards in 2011, McDonald led the rushing attack’s improvement to 183.7 yards per game by his second season.
The EWU running backs also saw their yards-per-carry average jump from 3.0 in 2011 to 5.3 in 2013—the school’s best figure in a dozen seasons. In 2014, McDonald coached senior Quincy Forte to second-team All-Big Sky Conference honors when he rushed for 910 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2015, three underclass running backs combined to average 4.9 yards per carry.
McDonald gained previous experience as a graduate assistant offensive quality control coach at Arizona State in 2011, preceded by one season as the defensive backs and strength coach at San Jose City College in 2010. He also interned with the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. His first name is pronounced Kyle.
McDonald’s collegiate playing career started at Sacramento City College, where he was an honorable mention All-NorCal Conference cornerback as a sophomore. He transferred to Sacramento State, where he played in 2005, before graduating with honors (Cum Laude) in the spring of 2006. McDonald finished his career at Idaho, tallying 31 tackles (two for loss), an interception and five pass breakups in 2006.
2017 – Utah Running Backs
2012-16 – Eastern Washington Running Backs/Co-Special Teams Coordinator
2011 – Arizona State Graduate Assistant/Offensive Quality Control
2010 – San Francisco 49ers Intern
2010 – San Jose City College Defensive BacksStrength & Conditioning
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