Carlos Locklyn

Western Kentucky announced the hiring of Carlos Locklyn as the football team’s new running backs coach Wednesday.

Carlos Locklyn’s path to coaching his former position didn’t start immediately after his career playing running back ended.

At that point, he says, he didn’t want to coach. He didn’t want anything to do with football.

He instead went into law enforcement, and was then talked into coaching high school football. He’s been involved with football since, working his way into the college ranks in various capacities at Memphis and Florida State, and on Wednesday was named Western Kentucky’s next running backs coach.

“It’s been a journey, but I’m just getting started,” Locklyn said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to come here and work for coach (Tyson) Helton and the new OC Zach Kittley and I’m extremely excited to get with my guys. All the things I have learned about the running back position from playing it and the guys that I’ve been around – I’m excited about just pouring it into these guys.”

Locklyn was a four-year letterman at Chattanooga, where he rushed for 1,555 yards over three seasons and twice led the Mocs in rushing. He also caught 71 passes for 676 yards. He moved to cornerback his junior season and tied for the team lead in interceptions, and after the first four games his senior season, moved back to running back. He finished the year with 867 yards rushing, and his 123.9 rushing yards per game stands as the program’s single-season record. His 6.5 yards per carry is fifth all-time at Chattanooga.

He signed with the NFL’s New York Giants as a free agent but was released after an injury, then spent time playing in the Arena Football League.

“I was a free agent heading to the Giants and had an injury and went back to school and played arena football to really get football out of my system,” Locklyn said. “I didn’t want to coach. I didn’t want nothing to do with football.”

Locklyn went into law enforcement, starting as a corrections officer at what is now called the Walter L. Bailey Jr. Criminal Justice Center in Memphis, Tenn., and later worked as an officer in Southaven, Miss., and on a government contract in the latter part of his law enforcement career.

He eventually got his coaching career started at the high school ranks in Memphis while also working in law enforcement for eight years. Locklyn believes his law enforcement career was beneficial to his coaching career.

“I was really talked into coaching high school football, but I started off as a correction officer at 201 Poplar there in Memphis and I never knew that working in a jail, being a police officer on the street there in Southaven, Mississippi and also after that working on a government contract for the latter part of my career, those things helped me as a football coach,” he said. “Now I’m not going to have any problems leading a room when I used to have a pod of 45 or 47 inmates. Leading a room of five or six young men, that’s not an issue. Those men there in 201 Poplar, those men I ran into on the street in Southaven, those men that I worked with on my government job there, they molded me to be the coach that I am. Those are influences that’ll take me a long way in the coaching profession.”

In the high school ranks, he served as an offensive coordinator, first at Trezevant in 2009, before moving to Westwood from 2010-11, Manassas from 2012-14 and Cordova from 2015-16. Locklyn says he will always considers himself a local Memphis high school football coach, and believes his eight years in the high school ranks helped him learn how to coach and develop players.

“I will always carry myself that way and those guys down there in that city – that’s what I represent. I represent them,” Locklyn said. “That’s the reason why it’s so important to me to be successful in this climb in this profession, because I’m always going to view myself as a local Memphis high school coach. I represent those guys.

“Coaching high school football, you learn to develop the guys that you have. I can’t go out grocery shopping for everything that I want. Whatever momma and daddy brought and put on the table, that’s what I’ve got. I had to develop that talent.”

Locklyn then made the move to the college ranks at Memphis, where he first volunteered in the weight room – his Twitter bio says “The Journey Of A Walkon Coach.” There, working with Mike Norvell, he was weight room assistant in 2017 before taking responsibilities as an offensive analyst in 2018 and spending the 2019 season as director of high school relations for the Tigers. Locklyn then joined Florida State with Norvell and worked in that same role for the 2020 campaign.

He says that time with Norvell is when he really learned about the game, after he thought he knew it.

“I learned football being around him. I not only learned football, I learned how to hold young men accountable. I learned how to hold myself accountable for leading my room,” Locklyn said. “The greatest four years of my life that helped me as a football coach, was with that guy, Mike Norvell.”

On Wednesday, Locklyn started the next step in his journey when he was officially announced as WKU’s running back’s coach. It’s a position he knows from his playing days, and one he says he’s going to bring real passion and a “mad enthusiasm” to coaching.

“I’m a highly competitive person, and I say this all the time, people ask me all the time – guys that know me – they say, ‘Man, people don’t know you’re a good ball coach. You know football. Why do you just want to coach running backs? Anybody can coach running backs,’ “ Locklyn said. “And that’s the reason why I want to coach running backs.

“I am a competitive person – not a big ego – but I am competitive and I want to coach the position of running backs because I know ain’t nobody going to coach it like me and I always felt that way. I love the position. I played it for a long time and I always say it’s the worst-coached position in football. That’s my opinion. I’m going to bring some different things to the position.”

Locklyn said his backs, number one, will be great citizens off the field, and that on the field, they’ll play smart, fast, physical and to the finish.

He won’t have WKU’s leading rusher from the last two seasons, Gaej Walker, to work with, after Walker entered his name into the transfer portal Friday. Walker accounted for 645 of the 1,512 yards the Hilltoppers rushed for in the 5-7 2020 season.

WKU struggled offensively as a whole for much of the season and finished 12th of 13 teams in Conference USA in both scoring offense (19.0 points per game) and total offense (290.3 yards per game). The Hilltoppers rushed for an average of 125 yards per game, only better than Rice and Louisiana Tech in C-USA. WKU hired Zach Kittley as offensive coordinator next season, and Locklyn says he’s looking forward to learning from and working with him, as well as Helton, who he says he’s known since his days coaching high school from recruiting.

The Hilltoppers have other backs expected to return, like Jakairi Moses, who rushed for 319 yards on 60 carries this fall after overcoming injuries the previous two years. C.J. Jones and Noah Whittington also both saw action in their first season at WKU. The program signed and has high expectations for 5-foot-11, 205-pound Adam Cofield, a graduate transfer who was a part of three FCS national championships at North Dakota State.

Locklyn says he’s seen the players he’ll be working with and believes he’s got a good group. He plans on getting to know them when they get back on campus, and is excited to begin the work with them in the next step in his football path.

“They have a clean slate with me, and they’ll learn who I am, I’ll learn who they are. I’ve watched all of them,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good group and I look forward to working with them.”{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.