Des Kitchings has been named Furman’s new offensive coordinator, head football coach Bruce Fowler announced today.
Kitchings, a former Paladin All-American and assistant coach, returns to his alma mater following three seasons at Vanderbilt, where he served as running backs coach and running game coordinator before being promoted to offensive coordinator at mid-season last year.
In 2008 he helped Vanderbilt post its first winning season since 1982 and a victory over Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl — the program’s first bowl victory since 1955. The next year he mentored running back Warren Norman, who produced one of the finest all-purpose seasons in Southeastern Conference history en route to earning SEC Freshman of the Year and freshman All-America honors.
Prior to his move into the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks, Kitchings served as an assistant coach at Furman, working with the Paladin tight ends and as co-special teams coordinator from 2004-07. Four of his players — tight ends John Rust, Willis Sudderth, Brad Bell, and Larry Hedden — earned All-Southern Conference honors.
In 2004 he directed the play of Sudderth, who helped key the Paladins to a 10-3 record, SoCon championship, and No. 5 final national ranking. The next year Rust played a huge role in a Furman offense that averaged 470.0 yards per game in an 11-3 campaign that featured a semifinal playoff run and No. 3 final national ranking. In 2006 Bell landed all-conference honors as part of an 8-4 campaign that included a playoff appearance and No. 12 final ranking.
A native of Wagener, S.C., Kitchings came to Furman in 1996 and proceeded to fashion a brilliant career as a receiver and return specialist. His 112 receptions and 1,808 receiving yards rank among the school’s Top 10. As a specialist, he averaged a SoCon record 29.3 yards on 33 kickoff returns, four of which went for touchdowns — also a school record. His outstanding speed also netted him seven rushing touchdowns in his career, two of which came in a 52-6 rout of William & Mary in 1999 when he became the first wide receiver in Paladin history to rush for 100 yards (117) in a game.
A consensus All-SoCon selection as a both a receiver and return specialist on Furman’s 1999 conference championship team, he was also honored as an All-America return specialist that season after leading the FCS (formerly I-AA) with a 35.1 yards per return average. One of his top performances came in the Paladins’ 28-3 win over North Carolina in 1999 when he caught seven passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
He was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2000 NFL Draft and spent four years on practice squads and rosters of NFL teams.
Kitchings graduated from Furman in 2000 with a degree in health and exercise science.
He and his wife, Heather, have three children: Aiden, 5; Ava, 3; and Austen, 6 months.