–TYSON HELTON, NEIL CALLAWAY NAMED USC ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACHES
LOS ANGELES—Tyson Helton and Neil Callaway, assistant coaches on a record-setting Western Kentucky offense who between them have more than 50 years of coaching experience, have been named assistants at USC, Trojan head coach Clay Helton announced today (Jan. 4).
Tyson Helton, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Western Kentucky the past 2 years (2014-15), will coach USC’s running backs and be the pass game coordinator. Callaway will be USC’s offensive line coach, the same position he handled with the Hilltoppers the last 3 seasons (2013-15).
The 38-year-old Tyson Helton, Clay’s younger brother, has been a coach for 16 years, while Callaway, 60, has coached for 37 years, including a stint as the head coach at Alabama Birmingham and stops as the offensive line coach with 3 Southeastern Conference teams.
“We are very excited to welcome Tyson and Neil to the Trojan Family,” said Clay Helton. “Their experience and knowledge will be a huge benefit to our players as well as our football program. Both have been highly successful coordinators and we look forward to the fresh energy and ideas they will bring. I have watched them produce a pair of Top 10 offenses that averaged more than 44 points a game each of the past 2 years. We look forward to them helping bring the same explosiveness to our offense at USC.”
With Tyson Helton and Callaway on staff, Western Kentucky’s offense was in the national Top 10 this year in passing efficiency (first at 177.4), scoring (third at 44.3), passing (fourth at 372.2), first downs (eighth at 349) and total yards (ninth at 526.4). The Conference USA champions went 12-2 in 2015 (tying a school wins record) and are ranked 25th by AP after posting a victory in the Miami Beach Bowl. In 2014, the Hilltoppers became the first NCAA program with a 4,500-yard passer and 1,500-yard rusher while winning the Bahamas Bowl to finish 8-4. That season, they were second nationally in passing, fourth in total offense and sixth in scoring offense and first downs. WKU set the school points record each of the past 2 years.
Western Kentucky broke more than two dozen school offensive records under Helton. He coached quarterback Brandon Doughty to back-to-back Conference USA MVP honors as he threw 97 touchdown passes the past 2 years (the most in NCAA history in consecutive seasons). Doughty led the nation in 2015 in completion percentage (71.9%), passing TDs (48), passing yards (5,055) and points responsible for (304) while ranking second in passing efficiency (176.5). That came off a 2014 campaign in which he threw for national bests of 4,830 yards and 49 TDs while winning the Sammy Baugh Award from the Touchdown Club of Columbus as the nation’s top quarterback.
Hilltopper wide receiver Taywan Taylor ranked second in the nation in 2015 in receiving TDs (17) and was third in receiving yards (1,467), both school season records along with his 86 receptions. Fellow receiver Jared Dangerfield had 82 catches in 2015, second most in school history.
Helton came to Western Kentucky after spending 2013 as Cincinnati’s special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. Cincinnati set a school season total offense record (6,137 yards) as Helton coached tight end Blake Annen and kick returner Ralph David Abernathy IV to All-American Athletic Conference first team honors.
He spent the previous 6 seasons (2007-12) at Alabama Birmingham, the first 5 years as the quarterbacks coach (under Callaway) and then 2012 coaching the running backs and serving as the recruiting coordinator.
Under Helton’s guidance, Joe Webb developed into one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NCAA history. In 2009, when he finished sixth nationally in total offense and ninth in passing efficiency, Webb became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. The 2009 and 2010 Blazer offenses produced the two highest total offense yardage totals in UAB history, both topping 5,000 yards. Then in 2012, running back Darrin Reaves was an All-Conference USA first teamer as he ran for 1,037 yards and a school-record 13 scores.
Helton coached tight ends and special teams at Memphis for 3 years (2004-06). Tigers’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who established the school career scoring record, was Conference USA’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2005 and played in the NFL.
Helton began his coaching career at Hawaii for 4 years (2000-03), the first year as a graduate assistant working with the special teams and the final 3 seasons as the special teams coach. In 2001, his first as a full-time coach, the Warriors led the nation in kickoff return yardage and broke the NCAA record for season kickoff return average. Return specialist Chad Owens set NCAA game records for most combined return yardage and most kickoff return yardage and tied an NCAA record with 2 scoring kick returns in a game.
Helton played quarterback at Houston (1996-99), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1999, after starring at Clements High in Sugar Land (Tex.). His father, Kim, was the head coach at Houston during Tyson’s tenure.
He was born on June 20, 1977. He and his wife, April, have 2 daughters, Shelby Grace, 12, and Presley, 10, and 6-year-old twin boys, Cole and Clay. Besides being Houston’s head coach (1993-99), his father, Kim, was an assistant in college (Florida, Miami and Alabama Birmingham), the NFL (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Oilers, Los Angeles Raiders, Washington Redskins) and CFL (Toronto Argonauts).
Under Callaway, Western Kentucky’s offensive line blocked for the school’s season passing and rushing record setters. In 2015, the line ranked 13th nationally in sacks allowed (1.1) and lineman Forrest Lamp made the All-Conference USA first team.
Prior to arriving at Western Kentucky, Callaway was UAB’s head coach for 5 years (2007-11), going 18-42. His 2009 squad’s offense was seventh nationally in rushing, while the 2010 Blazers were in the national Top 30 in passing offense and total offense.
From 2001 to 2006, he was the offensive coordinator at Georgia as the Bulldogs posted 61 victories, a pair of SEC titles, 3 SEC East titles, 4 bowl wins and 4 Top 4 poll finishes. The 2002 Georgia squad led the SEC in scoring offense and passing efficiency, while the 2005 offense was second in scoring. Six of Callaway’s Bulldog offensive linemen earned All-SEC honors, including 2005 All-American Max Jean-Gilles.
Before Georgia, Callaway was the offensive line coach at Alabama, his alma mater, for 4 years (1997 to 2000), while also serving as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator the final 3 seasons. Alabama won an SEC title during his time there.
He was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Houston under Kim Helton for 4 seasons (1993-96). The Cougars’ offensive line allowed just 19.5 sacks per season during his Callaway’s tenure, including just 10 in 1996. Houston won the inaugural Conference USA championship in 1996.
Callaway was the offensive line coach at Auburn for 12 years (1981-92), helping the Tigers to 4 SEC championships. He coached 4 All-American first team linemen and 14 All-SEC players, including Chris Samuels, the No. 3 pick of the 2000 NFL Draft.
He began his coaching career as a part-time assistant coach at East Carolina in 1978 and 1979, then was a graduate assistant at Wyoming in 1980.
Callaway was a lineman and linebacker at Alabama (1974-77) under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, winning 3 conference titles during his playing days and being named the team’s Most Outstanding Athlete in 1977. He received his bachelor’s degree from Alabama in 1978.
He prepped at Central High in Macon (Ga.). He was inducted into the Macon (Ga.) Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
He was born on Nov. 15, 1955. He and his wife, Karen, have three children, Russ, Kate and Clay.
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