By Sam Draut–
A week after losing cornerbacks coach Terrell Buckley to Mississippi State and safeties coach Greg Brown to Missouri, coach Bobby Petrino hired former USC defensive backs coach Keith Heyward as Louisville’s new secondary coach.
Heyward, 35, spent two seasons at USC as the defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator.
Known as a top-level recruiter, Heyward has 11 years of coaching experience and played four seasons at Oregon State.
“We are excited to add Keith Heyward to our staff,” Petrino said. “He is an excellent teacher and technician. He understands our schemes and will be a great addition to the staff. He has displayed an ability to be a tremendous leader of young men and is an excellent recruiter.”
The initial contact came straight from Petrino, and Heyward also had some familiarity with U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham through professional development sessions. Heyward also interviewed with Arizona State.
“I’m very thankful to Coach Petrino, when he reached out to me, my family and I were very excited,” Heyward said.
Prior to this point, Heyward’s playing and coaching career has been on the west coast. Before USC, Heyward was the secondary coach at Washington for two seasons and held the same position at Oregon State for four years.
Despite spending so much time on the west coast, Heyward has connections further east and believes he isn’t labeled as a west coast guy.
“I was born in Washington DC, grew up in Queens, New York until I was about 13,” Heyward said. “I feel like I can go anywhere and recruit.”
“I’ll go wherever to find the best players to help us win,” Heyward said.
With National Signing Day looming two weeks away on Feb. 3, Heyward’s first priority is recruiting. After National Signing Day passes, Heyward said then he can become focused on spring practices.
Heyward met a few members of the U of L secondary in his first few days in Louisville, including Shaq Wiggins and Trumaine Washington.
The majority of Louisville’s secondary from the 2015 season returns, with safety Josh Harvey-Clemons headlining the group.
“I have coached some talented guys,” Heyward said. “It is my job to get the most out of them.”
He will be coaching cornerbacks and safeties.
Heyward didn’t get a chance to watch Louisville play this season, but the Cardinals home opener in September won’t be the first time he been a part of the atmosphere inside of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
In 2005, as a graduate-assistant at Oregon State, Heyward was on the sideline as the Petrino-coached Cardinals dominated Oregon State and won 63-27. Heyward said he remembered star running back Michael Bush in particular.
“I have seen this program play before, a lot of good players have come out of here,” Heyward said.