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Western Kentucky running backs coach Carlos Locklyn instructs WKU running back Jamale Carothers during practice Friday at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Western Kentucky will lose another coach from the 2021 season, according to multiple reports.

Oregon will hire WKU running backs coach Carlos Locklyn as its next running backs coach, according to the reports.

Brandon Marcello of 247Sports was the first to report the move, and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN and Chris Vannini of The Athletic have also reported the move.

Locklyn would become the fourth offensive coach to leave WKU’s program since the team’s loss to UTSA in the Conference USA championship game. Offensive coordinator Zach Kittley and offensive line coach Stephen Hamby took the same positions at Texas Tech, while co-offensive coordinator/inside receivers coach Bryan Ellis – who was WKU’s offensive coordinator in 2019 and 2020 in Tyson Helton’s first two years as head coach – became offensive coordinator at Georgia Southern.

Helton announced changes in the coaching staff in a Zoom call with reporters before the team’s Boca Raton Bowl victory over Appalachian State. Those included the promotion of three coaches to co-offensive coordinator. Ben Arbuckle will be the team’s new quarterbacks coach and a co-offensive coordinator, Zach Lankford will take over as the offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator, and Josh Crawford will remain as the team’s outside receivers coach and also serve as a co-offensive coordinator. Locklyn was going to remain running backs coach while adding run game coordinator duties in 2022.

Helton said in the Zoom call he still has an open position for an offensive assistant and will take his time on deciding how to utilize that role. If he opts against hiring a full-time offensive coordinator for next season, Helton said Arbuckle – who followed Kittley from Houston Baptist and has served this season as an offensive quality control coach – would be the Hilltoppers’ play-caller on game days.

WKU – which finished 9-5 in 2021 – announced one new defensive change, with Scott Vestal being promoted to inside linebackers coach next season.

The changes come after the Hilltoppers put up some of the best offensive numbers in the nation this season.

WKU is currently second nationally in scoring offense at 44.2 points per game and total offense at 535.3 yards per game – marks only behind Ohio State, which still has a Rose Bowl game against Utah to play.

Much of those numbers came behind the record-setting season from quarterback Bailey Zappe and the pass-heavy system implemented by Kittley in his one season as WKU’s offensive coordinator, but the run game was solid throughout the season and had its best game in Boca Raton, Fla.

WKU finished 121st of 130 teams in rushing offense at just 101.6 yards per game, but it still averaged 4.1 yards per carry. WKU’s 347 rushing attempts are fifth-fewest in the FBS with several bowl games still to be played.

The Hilltoppers were led on the ground by second-year freshman Noah Whittington’s 617 yards on 101 attempts. He had two touchdowns. North Dakota State transfer Adam Cofield had 374 yards and four touchdowns on 81 attempts and freshman walk-on Kye Robichaux had 332 yards and three scores on 67 attempts.

WKU rushed for a season-high 216 yards in the bowl victory over Appalachian State as it put up 59 points on one of the nation’s top defenses statistically. The rushing performance was highlighted by an 86-yard scoring run from Whittington early in the third quarter.

Locklyn was hired by WKU in January 2021 after working the previous two seasons as director of high school relations at Florida State and Memphis. He was an offensive coordinator at four Memphis-area high schools over eight seasons. Locklyn – who was a four-year letter winner at Chattanooga and signed with the NFL’s New York Giants as a free agent during his playing days – was a weight room assistant at Memphis 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 the Seminoles and worked in that same role for the 2020 campaign.

Oregon announced Dec. 11 the hiring of Dan Lanning as the program’s 35th head coach. He had previously served as defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach at Georgia from 2019-21 after serving as outside linebackers coach the season prior, and before that was an inside linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator at Memphis from 2016-17. The Ducks announced Kenny Dillingham as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dec. 17. Dillingham was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida State the last two seasons, and prior to that served in the same role at Auburn in 2019 and Memphis in 2018.{&end}

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