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Marquel Blackwell

Blackwell

The West Virginia University football team, tasked with quickly finding a replacement for its departed running backs coach, has found the man it wants to take the job.

Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen announced Thursday that Toledo running backs coach Marquel Blackwell will replace Tony Dews on WVU’s staff.

“I am excited about coming to West Virginia and being a part of its long and successful football tradition,” Blackwell said. “This is a great opportunity for me to work and learn under a great offensive coach like Dana Holgorsen and expand my knowledge in his offensive system. My family and I are looking forward to being members of the Mountaineer family.”

Blackwell will bring with him plenty of connections to Florida’s Tampa Bay area. The 38-year-old native of St. Petersburg, Florida was a star quarterback for the University of South Florida in Tampa from 1999-2002. After a short NFL stint with the New York Jets in 2003, he became offensive coordinator and then head coach of Freedom High in Tampa.

He was a quality-control assistant at USF from 2009-11, spent 2012 as Western Kentucky’s running backs coach and was the offensive coordinator at Lakewood High in St. Petersburg in 2014.

After spending the 2015 season as a quality-control assistant at Florida, he moved to Toledo. He coached two All-Mid-American Conference running backs there: Terry Swanson led the MAC with 1,319 rushing yards this past season, and in 2016 he coached Kareem Hunt, who ran for a conference-best 1,475 yards, was a third-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017 and led the NFL in rushing as a rookie with 1,327 yards.

The position opened last week when new Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel announced that Dews — who spent the 2017 season as WVU’s running backs coach after spending the 2007 season as the Mountaineers’ receivers coach — would coach running backs for the Titans.