MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia has reached an agreement to hire Toledo running backs coach Marquel Blackwell, with a source telling MetroNews the move will become official once a background check is completed.
National college football writer Brett McMurphy first reported the hire late Wednesday night.
West Virginia has been in search of a running backs coach since Feb. 6 when Tony Dews left to join the Tennessee Titans staff.
Blackwell, 38, immediately became a target.
His two years at Toledo produced back-to-back MAC rushing champions — Kareem Hunt with 1,475 yards in 2016 and Terry Swanson gaining 1,319 last season. That followed a one-year stop as quality control specialist at Florida, one season as running backs coach at Western Kentucky, and two stints spanning four seasons on the staff at South Florida, his alma mater.
Speculation swirled Wednesday that the Mountaineers might seek to bring back Robert Gillespie, who was a part of Dana Holgorsen’s staff in 2010-2011. Gillespie spent the past five seasons at Tennessee and was initially told he would be retained by new Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt, a decision that abruptly changed this week. By that juncture, West Virginia had extended the job offer to Blackwell and was comfortable with the direction of negotiations.
Financial details of Blackwell’s contract were unavailable. Dews earned a $325,000 salary last season at WVU.
With deep ties to the Sunshine State, Blackwell spent four years coaching at high schools in St. Petersburg and Tampa and figures to help West Virginia re-establish a recruiting emphasis there.
A three-year starter for USF at quarterback, Blackwell threw for 9,108 yards, rushed for 1,235 and produced 77 total touchdowns.
The Mountaineers open spring practice Feb. 27.