About Coach Wolford
The energetic Eric Wolford, a Youngstown native who has been labeled a top recruiter at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivison level, was named the sixth head coach in school history on Dec. 15, 2009.
Wolford, a graduate of Ursuline High School, takes over his hometown program after building an impressive resume the past 16 years as a collegiate assistant. Of those, 12 have been spent on the FBS level.
He has a tremendous background working with some of the most reputable names in college football.
As an assistant, he has coached for Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), Ron Zook (Illinois), Mike Stoops (Arizona), Darrell Dickey (North Texas), Dana Dimel (Houston), Jim Leavitt (South Florida) and Bill Snyder (Kansas State).
In each of the past five years, Wolford has helped programs rank in the top 20 nationally in recruiting, according to Scout.com. In 2008, Rivals.com labeled him a top-20 National Recruiter.
He spent the 2009 season as the running-game coordinator and offensive line coach at South Carolina. The Gamecocks posted a 7-5 mark this past year and will make an appearance in the PapaJohns.com Bowl on Jan. 2 against UConn.
USC had four running backs rush for more than 100 yards in a game in 2009 after having just one eclipse the mark in the previous campaign. Of his offensive line, four players made their first career start. Overall, 10 different players started at least one contest up front, while three started at multiple positions.
After joining the staff in January, Wolford helped the Gamecocks land the 13th-ranked recruiting class in the nation. The 38-year-old Wolford spent two seasons at Illinois (2007-08) with Zook before heading to South Carolina. In his two seasons with the Illini, his lines led the Big Ten Conference in rushing (2007) and passing (2008) yards per game. During his two years, Illinois ranked in the top 20 nationally in recruiting.
Averaging 269.3 yards in the air, the Illini ranked first in the Big Ten in the category and 19th nationally in 2008. The team finished the season second in the conference in total offense with 438.8 yards per contest, which also ranked 19th in the NCAA. Illinois’ total yards topped 5,000 for just the fourth time in school history and for the second consecutive year. Three members of the line earned postseason recognition, including Big Ten second-teamer Xavier Fulton, for their performances.
In 2007, Illinois finished with a 9-4 overall mark and represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl following a 6-2 league mark.
His veteran unit led the offense to 3,338 rushing yards, the most in school history, and paved the way for running back Rashard Mendenhall’s record-setting season. The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Mendenhall broke school records for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and total scores in a season.
The offensive line allowed just 16 sacks, a school record and the second-fewest in the Big Ten. Left guard Martin O’Donnell headlined his group, earning Associated Press first-team All-America honors.
Wolford spent three seasons as the offensive line coach at Arizona (2004-06) before heading to Illinois. The Wildcats led the Pac-10 in fewest sacks allowed in his first two seasons. He tutored two All-Pacific-10 performers on the offensive line, including Eben Britton, who also was named a Sporting News All-American in 2006. In addition to his strong coaching skills, Wolford was an integral part of Arizona’s back-to-back top-20 recruiting classes in 2005 and 2006.
He spent a very successful year at North Texas in 2003. The Mean Green won nine games as his offensive line paved the way for Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year Patrick Cobbs. Cobbs, who rushed for nearly 1,700 yards, led the NCAA FBS with 152 yards per contest. UNT had two offensive linemen named first-team all-conference.
Wolford enjoyed three-year stints at both Houston and South Florida. While at Houston with Dimel, Wolford coached a number of positions spanning offense, defense and special teams. In 2002, Houston enjoyed a dramatic turnaround, going from a winless season to five victories. During his time in Houston, Wolford coached five all-conference players.
Wolford had the unique experience of coaching in the first three seasons of the South Florida football program, helping to lead the Bulls to two winning seasons as an FCS independent alongside Leavitt.
He began his coaching career at Kansas State where he served as a graduate assistant and worked with the offensive line for Snyder. From there, he spent a year as the offensive line and strength coach at Emporia State.
Wolford was a four-year starter as an offensive guard for the Wildcats, and his teams laid the groundwork for the program’s emergence on the national stage. A member of Snyder’s first KSU recruiting class, he went on to start a total of 34 games in his career, including 21 at right guard and 13 at left guard.
His senior year, the Wildcats won the school’s first bowl game, beating Wyoming in the 1993 Copper Bowl.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1994 in social sciences with a focus on monetary policy and banking. After college, Wolford signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals before returning to Manhattan to embark on his coaching career.
A 1989 graduate of Ursuline High School, Wolford earned All-Northeastern Ohio honors in 1988, in addition to being named the defensive player of the year in the Steel Valley Conference for Coach Dick Angle. He played both offensive and defensive line, helping the Irish to the SVC championship as a senior. In the summer of 2009, he was enshrined into the Ursuline High School Athletics Hall of Fame.
Wolford and his wife, Melinda, have a son, Stone, and a daughter, Marlee. He and his wife, who is a school psychologist, founded the No Stone Unturned Foundation, to help fight CFC Syndrome (Cardiofaciocutaneous Syndrome), a rare genetic condition affecting around 340 children worldwide.