Obit Darryl Drake

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake talks to a receiver during Friday’s preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Pittsburgh. The team said Drake, who joined the coaching staff in 2018, died early Sunday morning. He was 62.

Former Western Kentucky wide receiver and coach Darryl Drake died Sunday in Latrobe, Pa., the site of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. He was 62.

“We are all saddened to learn of the passing of Darryl Drake,” WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said in a news release. “He had a tremendous impact on those who he coached and those who were fortunate to call him a teammate. WKU Football was better because of our association with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

The Steelers said Drake, who joined the coaching staff in 2018, died early Sunday.

“Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career,” Steelers President Art Rooney II told The Associated Press. “He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith and the game of football.”

Originally from Louisville, Drake came to WKU n 1975 from Flaget High School to play for head coach Jimmy Feix and lettered in three seasons as a Hilltopper. As a freshman, Drake saw time on the 1975 WKU team that went 11-2, finished as co-Ohio Valley Conference Champions, won the Grantland Rice Bowl and finished as the NCAA Division II runner-up.

In 1978, Drake ranked second on the team with 31 catches for 380 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 99 yards and one score. That season, the Hilltoppers went 8-2, including 6-0 in OVC play to win the league championship.

Following his playing career at WKU, Drake was on the Washington Redskins for part of the 1979 season, was on the Ottawa Roughriders in 1981 and was on the Cincinnati Bengals for part of the 1983 campaign.

Feix offered Drake a graduate assistant coaching position in 1983 that began his 36-year career on the sidelines. He served as a graduate assistant coach for the Hilltoppers from 1983-84, coached wide receivers from 1985-89, defensive backs in 1990, then wide receivers and quarterbacks in 1991.

From 1992-2003, Drake made stops at Georgia, Baylor and Texas in the collegiate coaching ranks before teaming up with longtime friend Lovie Smith with the Chicago Bears. He coached wide receivers for the Bears from 2004-12, which included a Super Bowl XLI appearance in 2007. Drake was also wide receivers coach for the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-17 and had been working in the same position for the Steelers since 2018.

Over the course of his 15-season NFL coaching career, Drake coached some of the best wide receivers in the game, such as Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall and Antonio Brown.

“Darryl was a close friend and had a tremendous impact on my coaching career,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told the AP. “He was an amazing husband, father and grandfather, and it is difficult to put into words the grief our entire team is going through right now. Darryl loved the game of football and every player he ever coached. We will use our faith to guide us and help his family throughout the difficult time.”

Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, who coached alongside Drake in Arizona, called Drake “a really good coach and an even better friend.”

“The NFL coaching community lost a really good person that always took a great personal interest in the lives of the players he coached and the staff he worked with,” Kitchens told the AP.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who played under Drake in Chicago, tweeted that Drake “had a huge impact on me as a young player. His players loved him.”

Drake is survived by his wife, Sheila, daughters Shanice, Felisha and Marian as well as two grandchildren.

Pittsburgh canceled practices at Saint Vincent College on Sunday and Monday after announcing Drake’s death.{&end}

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