Wayne State hires former Michigan star Tyrone Wheatley as new head football coach

Legendary Michigan running back returns to Metro Detroit to coach Warriors

Running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley looks on from the bench area during a preseason NFL game against the Minnesota Vikings at Empower Field at Mile High on August 27, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Dustin Bradford, 2022 Getty Images)

DETROITWayne State University has hired former Michigan star Tyrone Wheatley to become its new head football coach.

“I am beyond excited to welcome Coach Wheatley and his family to the Wayne State community,” Wayne State Interim Athletic Director Erika Wallace said. “Coach Wheatley has a passion for developing the student-athlete not only on the field, but off. His ability to mentor men, develop talent, and recruit will elevate our football program. I’m looking forward to watching his leadership as he guides our Warrior student-athletes into a new era.”

Wheatley has been coaching football since 2007, when he became the head coach of Robichaud High School, where he played. He made brief coaching stops at Eastern Michigan, Syracuse, Morgan State, and Michigan while also coaching with the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Denver Broncos at the pro level.

This season, he coached running backs for the Broncos.

“First of all, I would like to thank Wayne State University, President M. Roy Wilson and Athletic Director Erika Wallace for the opportunity to lead a great university and its football team,” Wheatley said. “I am looking forward to coming home -- as they always say, ‘There is no place like home.’ No matter where I have been, I’ve always tried to recruit the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit. I am pleased, honored, and blessed to be back home and to coach at Wayne State University.”

Wheatley’s head coaching experience includes one year at Robichaud High School and three years at Morgan State. He has been a running backs coach at each of his other stops.

As Michigan’s running backs coach in 2015 and 2016, Wheatley helped the Wolverines go 10-3 in each of Jim Harbaugh’s first two seasons.

When he played for Michigan, Wheatley was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 1992, rushing for 1,357 yards and 13 touchdowns. He polished off the season with 235 yards in the Rose Bowl.

He also rushed for more than 1,000 yards each of the following two seasons. He left Ann Arbor with 4,187 rushing yards, 510 receiving yards, and 53 total touchdowns on his career stat sheet.

“I’ve coached a lot of great players,” former Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson said. “The difference was Tyrone was always searching for ways to get better on the football field, and off the field, as well. He didn’t just want to be great. He was always chasing greatness. He was always trying to put himself in a position to be a better player. I knew he would be a fantastic coach.”

Wheatley was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

Wheatley and his wife, Kimberly, have five children: Tyrone Jr., Terius, Tyrique, Tiana, and Tamari.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.