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Coaches

Larry Kirksey
Wide Receivers Coach
College:
Eastern Kentucky
Hometown:
Harlan, Ky.
Experience:
17

Larry Kirksey is in his seventh season as the wide receivers coach for the Houston Texans and his 17th year coaching NFL wide receivers. Kirksey has coached some of the best wide receivers in NFL history, including five who have more than 800 career receptions: Jerry Rice (1,549), Terrell Owens (1,078), Derrick Mason (943), Jimmy Smith (862) and Andre Johnson (818).

In six seasons under Kirksey’s tutelage, Johnson has averaged an NFL-best 94.8 yards per game, led the League in receiving yards in 2008 and 2009, and led the NFL in receptions in 2008. Johnson joined Rice as the only receivers in NFL history to lead the League in receiving yards in consecutive seasons and joined Marvin Harrison as the only receivers to surpass 1,500 yards in back-to-back years.

Larry Kirksey is in his seventh season as the wide receivers coach for the Houston Texans and his 17th year coaching NFL wide receivers. Kirksey has coached some of the best wide receivers in NFL history, including five who have more than 800 career receptions: Jerry Rice (1,549), Terrell Owens (1,078), Derrick Mason (943), Jimmy Smith (862) and Andre Johnson (818).

In six seasons under Kirksey’s tutelage, Johnson has averaged an NFL-best 94.8 yards per game, led the League in receiving yards in 2008 and 2009, and led the NFL in receptions in 2008. Johnson joined Rice as the only receivers in NFL history to lead the League in receiving yards in consecutive seasons and joined Marvin Harrison as the only receivers to surpass 1,500 yards in back-to-back years.

Johnson earned his sixth Pro Bowl trip and recorded the best season of his career in 2012, catching 112 passes and leading the AFC with a career-high 1,598 yards. It marked the second time in NFL history a player recorded more than 100 receptions and 1,500 yards in his 10th season or later. Kirksey had a hand in the other instance, serving as Rice’s position coach when the Hall of Famer caught 122 passes for 1,848 yards in 1995.

Though Kirksey had Johnson and former Texan veteran Kevin Walter leading his stable of receivers in 2012, he also had the challenge of ushering in three players who had never played a regular season game. Rookies Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey and second-year receiver Lestar Jean combined for 22 receptions for 323 yards and two scores. Walter added 518 yards and two touchdowns on 41 receptions.

The emergence of Houston’s run game and injuries to its quarterbacks and receiving corps saw the receiving numbers decline from recent years in 2011, but the Texans receivers were not without success. Despite missing nine games to injury, Johnson caught 33 passes for 492 yards for an average of 14.9 yards. Once healthy in the playoffs, Johnson totaled 13 receptions for 201 yards. Walter led Texans receivers with 39 receptions for 474 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning grab in a playoff-clinching win at Cincinnati in December. Jacoby Jones caught 31 passes for 512 yards (16.5 average) and two scores.

Houston’s receivers put up big numbers for the NFL’s third-ranked offense in 2010. Despite injury, Johnson led the team and ranked sixth in the NFL with 86 receptions for 1,216 yards and eight touchdowns to earn another Pro Bowl selection. Walter had his fourth-straight 50-catch, 600-yard season under Kirksey, with 51 receptions for 621 yards. Jones set career highs with 51 receptions for 562 yards.

The receiving corps was a team strength in 2009 as the Texans led the NFL in passing at 290.9 yards per game.  In addition to Johnson, Walter caught 53 passes for 611 yards while Jones emerged as a big-play threat, averaging a touchdown every 4.5 receptions. David Anderson turned in a career year with 38 receptions for 370 yards.

In 2008, Johnson led the NFL with career-highs of 115 receptions and 1,575 yards. The franchise’s all-time leading receiver earned Associated Press first-team All-Pro honors and started for the AFC in the Pro Bowl. Johnson teamed with Walter for the most prolific receiving tandem in the League, combining for 2,474 receiving yards. Walter’s 899 yards were a career high, and he shared the team lead with Johnson with eight touchdown receptions.

In his first year with the Texans, Kirksey oversaw a group that had three players top 700 receiving yards, making Houston one of just four teams to achieve that feat. Johnson missed seven games due to injury, but Walter and André Davis stepped up to fill the void. Walter set career highs with 65 receptions, 800 yards and four touchdowns. He led the team in receptions and was second in receiving yards. Davis emerged as one of the best deep threats in the NFL, averaging nearly 18 yards per catch. Despite playing in just nine games, Johnson once again led the team with 851 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Prior to joining the Texans, Kirksey helped lead Middle Tennessee State to the 2006 Sun Belt Conference title and a Motor City Bowl berth as the assistant head coach and running backs coach for the Blue Raiders in 2005. He was a volunteer coach for the Denver Broncos in 2004.

Kirksey spent 2003 as the wide receivers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where Smith led the team with 54 receptions despite missing four games. From 2001-02, Kirksey coached wide receivers for the Detroit Lions. In 2001, Johnnie Morton finished 12th in the NFL with 1,154 receiving yards and the Lions finished sixth in the league with 224.8 passing yards per game.

A Kentucky native, Kirksey served as assistant head coach and was in charge of the wide receivers at Texas A&M in 2000. That year, he helped lead the Aggies to a berth in the Independence Bowl while injecting hints of the West Coast offense.

In 1994, Kirksey began his NFL career coaching the NFL’s all-time reception and receiving yards leader, Rice. Under Kirksey, Rice set an NFL record with 1,848 receiving yards and had a career-high 122 receptions in 1995. From 1994-99, Rice caught 606 passes for 6,666 yards. Kirksey’s receivers helped set a Super Bowl record in Super Bowl XXIX with six touchdown catches, including three by Rice.

From 1990-93, Kirksey coached running backs for Alabama, where he helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship in 1992. Kirksey’s running backs led the SEC with 252 rushing yards per game. He coached running backs at the University of Florida under Charlie Pell and Galen Hall from 1984-88. During his tenure at Florida, he coached star running backs Lorenzo Hampton, Neal Anderson, John L. Williams and Emmitt Smith. After leaving Florida, Kirksey spent one year as running backs coach at Pittsburgh. Prior to joining the Gators, Kirksey gained valuable experience by taking over head coaching duties at Kentucky State in 1983.

Kirksey got his start in coaching as the wide receivers/tight ends coach at Miami (Ohio) in 1974, and remained there for three seasons before joining the staff at Kentucky. He also coached wide receivers and tight ends for the Wildcats from 1977-81, then spent the 1982 campaign coaching the same positions at Kansas.

Kirksey earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky in 1974, where he was a four-year letterman and three-year starter at wide receiver. As a senior, he earned all-conference honors. He was out of coaching in 2005 while serving as deputy executive director of the Kentucky Sports Authority.

He and wife Anita have two children, Jessica and Jared.

KIRKSEY’S COACHING LEDGER
2007-13:  Wide Receivers, Houston Texans
2006:  Asst. Head Coach/Running Backs, Middle Tennessee
2004:  Asst. Special Teams/ Volunteer, Denver Broncos
2003:  Wide Receivers, Jacksonville Jaguars
2001-02:  Wide Receivers, Detroit Lions
2000:  Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers, Texas A&M
1994-99:  Wide Receivers, San Francisco 49ers
1990-93:  Running Backs, Alabama
1989:  Running Backs, Pittsburgh
1984-88:  Running Backs, Florida
1983:  Head Coach, Kentucky State
1982:  Wide Receivers/Tight Ends, Kansas
1977-81:  Wide Receivers/Tight Ends, Kentucky
1974-76:  Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers/Tight Ends, Miami (Ohio)

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