Class of 1969
Under Kirksey in 2008, WR Andre Johnson led the NFL in receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,575). Johnson set an NFL record by recording at least 10 catches in seven games in one season and was named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press, a starter in the 2009 Pro Bowl and the NFL Alumni Wide Receiver of the Year. Johnson and Kevin Walter formed the most prolific receiving tandem in the league, combining for 2,474 receiving yards. Walter finished with a career-high 899 receiving yards. He and Johnson both matched the franchise record for receiving touchdowns with eight apiece.
In 2007, Kirksey oversaw a group that had three players top 700 receiving yards, making Houston one of just four teams to achieve that feat. The unitâ€™s depth was tested when Johnson missed seven games due to injury, but Walter and WR AndrÃ© Davis stepped up to fill the void. Walter set career highs in receptions (65), yards (800) and touchdowns (4). His 65 catches led the team, and he 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 in receiving yards, with 851, and touchdowns, with eight. Houstonâ€™s all-time leading receiver led all NFL receivers with an average of 94.6 yards per game.
Kirksey spent the 2006 season as an asst. head coach/running backs at Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders won the Sun Belt title on their way to the Motor City Bowl.
Kirksey spent the 2004 season in Denver as a volunteer coach for the Broncos. He spent 2003 as the wide receivers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. During his time in Jacksonville, Jimmy Smith led the team with 54 receptions while missing four games.
He spent the 2001-02 season in Detroit. During the 2001 season, Johnnie Morton finished the year 12th in the NFL with 1,154 receiving yards. The Lions finished sixth in the league with 224.8 yards per game.
Kirksey, a Kentucky native, was an assistant head coach 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 coaching career with the responsibility of coaching the NFLâ€™s all-time reception and receiving yards leader Jerry Rice. Under Kirksey, Rice set an NFL record with 1,848 receiving yards, while setting a career high of 122 receptions in 1995. From 1994-99 Rice caught 606 passes for 6,666 yards.
From 1990 to 93, Kirksey coached running backs for Alabama, where he helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship in 1992. Kirkseyâ€™s running back corps led the SEC in rushing that season with an average of 252 yards per game. He coached running backs at the University of Florida under Charlie Pell and Galen Hall from 1984 to 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 when he became the wide receiver/tight end coach at Miami of Ohio in 1974 and remained with the Redskins for three seasons before joining the staff at Kentucky. He also coached wide receivers and tight ends for the Wildcats from 1977 to 1981, then spent the 1982 campaign coaching the same positions at Kansas.
Kirksey earned a bachelorâ€™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. Kirksey was out of coaching in 2005 while serving as deputy executive director of the Kentucky Sports Authority.
He is a 1969 graduate of Harlan High School; a four-year letterman in Football, basketball, track, and baseball; earning all-conference honors for four years in all four sports.
He is married to the former Anita Combs of Hazard, Ky., and they have two children, Jessica and Jared.
KIRKSEYâ€™S COACHING LEDGER
2007-09: 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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