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UM's Tyrone Wheatley leaves for Jaguars job

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Tyrone Wheatley

Tyrone Wheatley is leaving Michigan’s staff after two seasons and is heading to the Jacksonville Jaguars as running backs coach, rejoining Doug Marrone with whom he has worked at two other coaching stops.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the hire Monday night on Twitter and the Jaguars confirmed the hire later in the evening.

Michigan loses one of its best recruiters. Wheatley is ranked No. 6 nationally on 247Sports “recruiter rankings”. He was a candidate for head coaching position at Western Michigan and is extremely popular as a recruiter in Detroit.

He is the second coach to leave Jim Harbaugh’s staff since the start of the year. Jedd Fisch, who was the Wolverines’ pass-game coordinator, has moved on to UCLA where he is now the offensive coordinator. Harbaugh hired Pep Hamilton from the Cleveland Browns to replace Fisch. Hamilton is assistant head coach and pass-game coordinator.

Now Harbaugh must find a running backs coach.

Former Michigan running back Mike Hart, the program’s all-time leading rusher, could be a candidate. Hart has coached running backs at Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, where he was responsible for recruiting Detroit. He currently is running backs coach at Syracuse.

Wheatley, an Inkster native, was given a two-year contract when he was hired by Harbaugh, and he was nearing the end of that contract. He was the only former Michigan player – aside from Harbaugh – on the staff. Wheatley ranks among Michigan’s finest running backs. During his career (1991-1994), he was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year in 1992 as a sophomore and was an All-Big Ten selection three-straight seasons.

After winning the Big Ten award in 1992, he then had a brilliant performance in the Rose Bowl, rushing for 235 yards en route to winning the game’s MVP award. Wheatley finished his Michigan career with 4,187 rushing yards, second in program history at the time and now fifth all-time.

He also had a standout track and field career at Michigan and won the Big Ten Outdoor 110-meter hurdles title in 1994.

Wheatley played 10 NFL seasons after being selected 17th overall by the New York Giants in the 1995 draft.

He rejoins Marrone, with whom he coached at Syracuse and the Buffalo Bills. Wheatley coached running backs for the Bills from 2013-2014. Before the Bills he spent five seasons coaching college football. He got his coaching start at his high school alma mater, Dearborn Heights Robichaud in 2007.

Wheatley’s son, Tyrone Jr., known as T.J., is a tight end at Michigan. Wheatley in 2015 said he was happy T.J. decided to attend Michigan but never insisted he go to Ann Arbor.

“I wouldn’t know what it felt like because I didn’t have to follow in anyone’s shoes,” Wheatley said at the time. “It was his deal. It was his decision, and I wanted it to be is 100 percent. As a dad, years down the road, I never wanted to sit down with him (and hear him say), ‘Hey, I made a terrible decision based on what you felt was right.’ T.J. is a very, very bright young man."

achengelis@detroitnews.com

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