Utah running backs coach Kiel McDonald has been a valued member of Kyle Whittingham’s Utah coaching staff for the past five seasons, but it appears his time in Salt Lake City is at an end, thanks in part to a standout coaching job during a memorable 10-4 season for Utah that ended Saturday in the program’s first appearance in the Rose Bowl.
His name was linked to reports that first surfaced Saturday night in the hours after the Utes’ Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State that new USC coach Lincoln Riley is interested in adding McDonald to his Trojan staff.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg first reported that USC is interested in adding him to the same position.
Sources: #USC is targeting #Utah running backs coach Kiel McDonald for the same role under coach Lincoln Riley. McDonald has spent the past five seasons at Utah, working with multiple All-Pac-12 backs. Previously worked at Eastern Washington and also spent 2011 at Arizona State.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) January 2, 2022
On3 Sports’ Matt Zenitz reported Sunday the Trojans are “set to hire” McDonald, though there has been no official word from either Utah or USC.
On Sunday evening, McDonald shared a message with the Utah football community via social media, saying in part, “Coach Whitt, thank you for giving me a chance to coach amongst some of the best teachers, developers, and men in the country.”
McDonald joined the Utes’ staff in 2017 and has worked with several outstanding Utah backs, including the program’s all-time leading rusher, Zack Moss.
This year, Utah led the Pac-12 and ranked 13th nationally in rushing, averaging 216.8 yards per game on the ground.
The Utes had three running backs with over 500 rushing yards this season, led by Tavion Thomas, who ran for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns. T.J. Pledger, who declared for the NFL draft, added 694 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while Micah Bernard had 523 yards and two rushing scores.