Arizona State hiring Hines Ward as WR coach: Source

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Arizona State hiring Hines Ward as WR coach: Source

By Doug Haller, Seth Emerson and Jenna West

Arizona State made a splashy move Saturday by adding Pittsburgh Steelers great Hines Ward as wide receivers coach, a source briefed on the situation said.

Ward, who played wide receiver for the Steelers for 14 years, heads to Arizona State after coaching the XFL’s Antonio Brahmas in 2023. His resume also includes working with the receivers at Florida Atlanta in 2021 and serving as an offensive assistant with the New York Jets from 2019-20. He first got coaching experience as an offensive intern with the Steelers in 2017, six years after he retired from the NFL.

Upon his hire in 2022, Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham leaned heavily on local ties to fill out his coaching staff. Charlie Ragle, Shaun Aguano and Jason Mohns, who at different times were among the top high school coaches in the state, brought deep Arizona roots. Since the Sun Devils needed to establish a stronger recruiting presence within the state, this was needed.

Ward, 48, gives Arizona State’s staff more national appeal. He’s respected within the sport. A former All-Pro receiver. A Super Bowl MVP. He takes over a talented position room — Elijhah Badger is among the nation’s more underrated receivers — with a chance to take it to a higher level.

For more than a decade, Ward has been very public about wanting to be a coach at Georgia, his alma mater. But whenever the Bulldogs have had an opening for a receivers coach, Ward has not been a factor, even with his former teammate Kirby Smart as the coach. The concern has always been his lack of coaching experience and how committed he was to the grind of being a college coach. The man renowned for winning “Dancing with the Stars” was not regarded as one who would be willing to watch film and recruit.

But Ward has kept at it. The move to Arizona State is the latest sign that Ward is serious about coaching, and while Georgia recently hired a receivers coach — James Coley in January — Ward could now be on the radar, whether it’s his alma mater or elsewhere. (And in the meantime he could significantly help Arizona State.)

Ward starred as a receiver and quarterback at Georgia in the mid-1990s. He finished his collegiate career with 144 receptions and 1,965 receiving yards before being drafted in the third round by the Steelers in 1998.

He spent his entire NFL career with the Steelers, made four Pro Bowls and won the 2005 Super Bowl MVP. In 217 career games, he tallied 12,083 receiving yards, 1,000 receptions and 85 receiving touchdowns.

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(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)