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Cal Football

Keith Heyward Named Outside Linebackers Coach

January 28, 2021
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BERKELEY – Cal head football coach Justin Wilcox officially announced Thursday that Keith Heyward has agreed to become the Golden Bears' outside linebackers coach. Heyward has spent 14 of his 16 seasons as a collegiate coach in the Pac-12 with four different conference programs including his most recent position as the assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach for back-to-back Pac-12 champions Oregon. He was the Ducks' safeties coach for four seasons (2017-20) while adding co-defensive coordinator duties for his last three campaigns at Oregon and assistant head coach for the final two.

Heyward started his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant on the defensive side of the ball at his alma mater Oregon State (2005-06) as he worked with the defensive line in his first season and cornerbacks in his second before taking his first full-time coaching gig as the linebackers coach at Cal Poly (2007). He came back to Oregon State as the defensive backs coach for four seasons (2008-11) before back-to-back two-year gigs in the same position at Washington (2012-13) and USC (2014-15). Heyward also had a passing game coordinator title on the defensive staff with the Trojans.

Wilcox was the defensive coordinator at both Washington and USC during Heyward's stints, while Wilcox and Heyward played against each other collegiately in each of Heyward's first three campaigns with the Beavers and Wilcox's final three with Oregon (1997-99).

"Keith has tremendous experience and deep roots in the Pac-12 both as a coach and former player," Wilcox said. "He has played an important role coaching and recruiting for many successful programs throughout his career and knows what it takes to win. The players he has coached have consistently been well-prepared, productive and played aggressively. Keith is a humble and smart guy who relates well to players and his fellow coaches, and he will be an outstanding fit at Cal. We are excited that he is joining our staff."

"I'm extremely excited to join the terrific staff Justin Wilcox has assembled at Cal," Heyward said. "I am looking forward to working alongside Justin and others on the staff that I have had the chance to be colleagues and friends with for many years while working in the Pac-12. I'm humbled by the opportunity to continue growing as a coach and ready to be able to teach, mentor and develop the young men in the Cal football program."
 
Keith Heyward, Cal Outside Linebackers Coach

A member of bowl staffs and winning teams in 12 of his 16 seasons as an assistant coach including each of the past nine campaigns at Washington (2012-13), USC (2014-15), Louisville (2016) and Oregon (2017-20)

Has compiled an all-time record of 120-79 (.603) as an assistant coach and been on staffs of a pair of teams that have won 10 or more games at Oregon in 2019 (12-2) and Oregon State in 2006 (10-4), while four others have won nine (Oregon State, 2008; USC, 2014; Louisville, 2016; Oregon, 2018)

Has coached for a team ranked in the AP Top 25 at some point in the season in 13 of his 16 campaigns including a 2016 Louisville squad that reached No. 3 during the season and a 2019 Oregon team that finished No. 5

Coached six teams that won bowl games at Oregon State (2006 Sun Bowl, 2008 Sun Bowl), Washington (2013 Fight Hunger Bowl), USC (2014 Holiday Bowl) and Oregon (2018 Redbox Bowl, 2019 Rose Bowl)

Compiled a 32-15 (.681) record in four seasons at Oregon (2017-20 – 7-6 in 2017; 9-4 in 2018; 12-2 in 2019; 4-3 in 2020), won a pair of Pac-12 titles (2019, '20) and a Pac-12 North Division crown (2019), and made bowl game appearances in all four seasons with victories at the Redbox Bowl (2018) and Rose Bowl (2019)

Helped an Oregon defense that allowed 41.4 points and ranked 126th nationally the year before his arrival in 2016 to allow only 16.5 points and rank ninth nationally in his third season with the Ducks in 2019 with the defense keyed by a knack for making big plays and ranking second nationally with 20 interceptions after being tied for 81st in 2016 with nine

Oregon made other tremendous improvements in the national rankings on defense between the year before his arrival and his third season in 2019, going from 126th (518.4 ypg) to 22nd (329.1 ypg) in total defense, 121st (246.5 ypg) to 13th (108.9 ypg) in rushing defense, and 113th (271.9 ypg) to 53rd (220.1 ypg) in passing yards allowed

Oregon picked off 59 passes during his four seasons as the Ducks' safeties coach and was the only team in the country with at least 15 pics for three straight campaigns from 2017-19, ranking tied for 23rd nationally with 15 (2017) and tied for 11th with 17 (2018) the two seasons before its No. 2 ranking in 2019

Coached at Louisville for one season in 2016 for a squad that was 9-4 overall and ranked No. 3 in the nation as late as mid-November after a 9-1 start, while finishing 14th nationally in total defense (322.2 ypg) and tied for 22nd in interceptions (15)

Spent two seasons at USC (2014-15) and helped the Trojans to a 17-10 cumulative record (9-4 in 2014; 8-6 in 2015), a Holiday Bowl win in 2014, and both a Pac-12 South Division title and Holiday Bowl appearance in 2015, with his 2014 team co-leading the conference with 14 pics while his 2015 squad ranked tied for third nationally and co-led the Pac-12 with five defensive touchdowns

Washington was tied for 18th nationally with 17 pics and 23rd in passing yards allowed (197.3 ypg) in his first season with a Huskies' team that was 7-6 in 2012 and reached the Las Vegas Bowl before improving to 9-4 including a win over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl in his second season in 2013 when the Huskies ranked tied for 30th nationally with 16 interceptions

Helped his alma mater Oregon State to three winning seasons and three bowl games over two stints and six seasons on the coaching staff first as a graduate assistant on the defensive side of the ball (2005-06) and later as the defensive backs coach (2008-11)

Oregon State coaching career was highlighted by the first two seasons of his second stint when the Beavers finished third and tied for second in the conference in 2008 and 2009, combined for a 17-9 record (9-4 in 2008; 8-5 in 2009), and reached the Sun Bowl and Las Vegas Bowl with a victory in Sun

Oregon State also had a 10-4 campaign and a Sun Bowl victory in 2006

Spent his first season as a full-time coach working with the linebackers for a 7-4 Cal Poly squad in 2007

Has coached 19 players who have been selected in the NFL Draft including four first rounders in Washington's Desmond Trufant (2013 – Atlanta) and Marcus Peters (2015 – Kansas City), USC's Adoree' Jackson (2017 – Tennessee) and Louisville's Jaire Alexander (2018 – Green Bay)

Has been the position coach for three All-Americans in Trufant (2012 – Pro Football Focus), USC's Su'a Cravens (2014 – AP First Team) and Alexander (2016 – Pro Football Focus Second Team); three Freshman All-Americans in Oregon State's Keenan Lewis (2005 – Rivals Second Team; The Sporting News Honorable Mention), Jackson (2014 – FWAA, Scout, Phil Steele, CollegeFootballNews.com, ESPN, 247Sports First Team) and Oregon's Verone McKinley III (2019 – FWAA First Team); and 20 players that have earned All-Conference honors from either the league's coaches or a media outlet including three first-teamers selected by the league's coaches in Trufant (2012), Cravens (2015) and Jackson (2015) with Jackson adding Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors in 2014

Played professional football with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League (2001), the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe (2002) and the Los Angeles Avengers in the Arena Football League (2004)

Started the final 35 games of his four-year playing career at Oregon State (1997-2000) and earned honorable mention honors at cornerback when he picked up four interceptions as a 2000 senior for a squad was 11-1 overall, won the Fiesta Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25

Earned his bachelor's degree in communications from Oregon State in 2000

Spent his prep playing career at Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Calif.

Keith Heyward Coaching History
Season: Team – Coaching Position (Postseason)
2005: Oregon State – Graduate Assistant, Defensive Line
2006: Oregon State – Graduate Assistant, Cornerbacks (Sun Bowl)
2007: Cal Poly – Linebackers
2008: Oregon State – Defensive Backs (Sun Bowl)
2009: Oregon State – Defensive Backs (Las Vegas Bowl)
2010: Oregon State – Defensive Backs
2011: Oregon State – Defensive Backs
2012: Washington – Defensive Backs (Las Vegas Bowl)
2013: Washington – Defensive Backs (Fight Hunger Bowl)
2014: USC – Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs (Holiday Bowl)
2015: USC – Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs (Pac-12 South Division Champion, Holiday Bowl)
2016: Louisville – Defensive Backs (Citrus Bowl)
2017: Oregon – Safeties (Las Vegas Bowl)
2018: Oregon – Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties (Redbox Bowl)
2019: Oregon – Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties (Pac-12 Champion, Pac-12 North Division Champion, Rose Bowl)
2020: Oregon – Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties (Pac-12 Champion, Fiesta Bowl)
 
Keith Heyward File
Hometown: Woodland Hills, Calif.
High School: Taft HS
College: Oregon State, 2000, BA, Communications
Family: Wife – Cameo; Daughters – Kendyl and Kamryn

Discussion from...

Keith Heyward Named Outside Linebackers Coach

3,211 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by 71Bear
YamhillBear
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Given that we've been dissecting DeRuyter's changing roles and titles at Cal, (and also given how much play it gets in general when a coach makes a "lateral" transfer), it stuck out to me that in terms of titles at least, Heyward is taking a step down to be a position coach only (at Oregon, he had Asst. HC and co-DC titles). Anyone have any perspective on this?
(Note: I don't put huge weight on titles myself, I think title is only one consideration in the total package (along with pay, staff, timing, promises, etc.), but this did seem to stick out.)
GivemTheAxe
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YamhillBear said:

Given that we've been dissecting DeRuyter's changing roles and titles at Cal, (and also given how much play it gets in general when a coach makes a "lateral" transfer), it stuck out to me that in terms of titles at least, Heyward is taking a step down to be a position coach only (at Oregon, he had Asst. HC and co-DC titles). Anyone have any perspective on this?
(Note: I don't put huge weight on titles myself, I think title is only one consideration in the total package (along with pay, staff, timing, promises, etc.), but this did seem to stick out.)

Interesting switch. TDR goes from ADC to DC. Heyward goes from ADC to position coach. Maybe this says something about the person. Maybe it says something about how badly the team needs that person. Or both.
Marty
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I had the same thoughts wrt the whole position/job title questions, but there is so much behind the scenes that is never public that I chose not to spend alot of time trying to figure out something that I won't be able to do with the information I have. Having lived in Oregon for awhile, the only concern I have about this is that Heyward will almost surely take a financial hit based on the relative cost of living disparity. If he works out for Cal, hopefully JW can get the funds to keep him happy.

In general, while I have alot of respect for TDR and what he accomplished at Cal, I believe that the experience that JW and Sirmon have minimizes the strategic impact of losing TDR. Heyward has an impressive resume and appears to be an upgrade in terms of recruiting, which Cal seems to be perpetually in need of (especially given the loss of our recruiting coordinator to USC) so this really could be a win-win for both schools. Hopefully Heyward fits in, performs well, recruits even better, and the win is bigger for Cal than Oregon. Time will tell.
Rushinbear
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Marty said:

I had the same thoughts wrt the whole position/job title questions, but there is so much behind the scenes that is never public that I chose not to spend alot of time trying to figure out something that I won't be able to do with the information I have. Having lived in Oregon for awhile, the only concern I have about this is that Heyward will almost surely take a financial hit based on the relative cost of living disparity. If he works out for Cal, hopefully JW can get the funds to keep him happy.

In general, while I have alot of respect for TDR and what he accomplished at Cal, I believe that the experience that JW and Sirmon have minimizes the strategic impact of losing TDR. Heyward has an impressive resume and appears to be an upgrade in terms of recruiting, which Cal seems to be perpetually in need of (especially given the loss of our recruiting coordinator to USC) so this really could be a win-win for both schools. Hopefully Heyward fits in, performs well, recruits even better, and the win is bigger for Cal than Oregon. Time will tell.
Co- anything cannot be sustained for long - transition, yes. Each coach has to be responsible for his group. Can't enable them to point their fingers at someone else. TDR as co-DC seemed like a transition to me. When Sirmon was ready to take the reins, TDR's move made sense.

Same with Heyward. Looks like a good spot for him. Just in time for September and December.
71Bear
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YamhillBear said:

Given that we've been dissecting DeRuyter's changing roles and titles at Cal, (and also given how much play it gets in general when a coach makes a "lateral" transfer), it stuck out to me that in terms of titles at least, Heyward is taking a step down to be a position coach only (at Oregon, he had Asst. HC and co-DC titles). Anyone have any perspective on this?
(Note: I don't put huge weight on titles myself, I think title is only one consideration in the total package (along with pay, staff, timing, promises, etc.), but this did seem to stick out.)
Hayward was passed over for the DC job at UO when Avalos left. In essence, he had maxed out with the Ducks. He decided to move on to another program in order to burnish his resume and put himself in a position to be selected as a DC by someone else. I think it is a smart move. If he produces big results at Cal, he may one day achieve his career goal.
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