Desmond Kitchings, a former All-American and all-conference performer at Furman, will become Vanderbilt’s newest offensive assistant coach, Commodores head coach Bobby Johnson said Friday.
Kitchings, 30, will coach running backs. He replaces Kenny Carter, who left the program last week to take a similar position at the University of Florida.
Kitchings comes to Vanderbilt from Western Michigan University, though he only joined the Bronco staff last month after spending four years as an offensive assistant at his alma mater. In 2007, he served as the Furman tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.
“Desmond is an outstanding addition to our staff,” Johnson said. “He played for me at Furman and had a great career there. Desmond spent several years in the NFL, and knows what it takes to succeed on the football field.
“I’ve watched Desmond’s coaching career develop impressively. He’s one of the up-and-coming young coaches that head coaches love to attract to their staffs. He’s a high-energy, very committed young man, a guy who will be willing to give his all to improving our program. Desmond will also be a great mentor to our running backs,” Johnson added.
As a Furman assistant coach, Kitchings mentored three-time All-Southern Conference tight end Willis Sudderth. During his tenure at Furman, the Paladins went 10-3 and captured a conference title in 2004, and advanced to the NCAA I-AA national semifinals in 2005, concluding the year ranked third in the nation. One of the Paladins’ top performers in 2005, tight end John Rust, was named all-conference. Last season, Paladin sophomore tight end Larry Hedden also earned all-SoCon honors after catching 36 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’m extremely excited, and very appreciative of the opportunity to join Coach Johnson and his staff at Vanderbilt University,” Kitchings said. “For me, it’s a unique opportunity to work with a man that I have tremendous respect for. I looking forward to doing everything I can to help Vanderbilt succeed in the nation’s most competitive conference.
“Coach Johnson and the staff are building something special with the Vanderbilt football program, and doing it with great integrity, the way it should be done. I just want to help them continue to build on what they have already started at Vanderbilt, and really look forward to meeting the players and getting to work."
Kitchings, a native of Wagner, S.C., was a standout receiver and return specialist at Furman, graduating in 2000. As a senior in 1999, Kitchings helped Furman win the first of three Southern Conference championships under Johnson.
Kitchings ranks among Furman’s all-time leaders in receptions and returns. His 112 receptions and 1,808 receiving yards rank fifth all-time at the school, and he stands sixth with 11 career touchdown catches. As a specialist he averaged a SoCon record 29.3 yards on 33 kickoff returns, four of which went for touchdowns – also a school record.
A consensus all-Southern Conference selection as both a receiver and returner, Kitchings earned All-America honors as a return specialist in 1999 after leading the NCAA I-AA division in return average. One of his top performances that season came in Furman’s 28-3 win over North Carolina when he caught seven passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Kitchings was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Eventually, he spent four years in the NFL on practice squads and rosters of the Chiefs, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and the St. Louis Rams.
At Furman, Kitchings completed an undergraduate degree in health and exercise science in 2000.
Kitchings is married to the former Heather Seid. The couple are parents of a 19-month son, Aiden Jacob, and are awaiting the arrival of their second child in the next two weeks.