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Steelers Legend Hines Ward Makes Move to Arizona State

Coach Hines Ward
© Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Hines Ward, the former Super Bowl XL MVP and two-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is set to join Arizona State as their next wide receiver's coach.

The agreement, expected to be finalized soon, will bring Ward’s coaching expertise to the Sun Devils’ football program. With prior coaching experience at Florida Atlantic and the New York Jets, as well as a stint as head coach in the former XFL. Ward’s addition follows the departure of receivers coach Ra’Shaad Samples to Oregon. This marks an important development in second-year coach Kenny Dillingham’s staff restructuring efforts.

A Legendary Journey from Georgia to the NFL

Ward, renowned for his prowess both in college football with the Georgia Bulldogs and in the NFL with the Steelers, etched his name in the annals of football history through his remarkable career spanning over a decade.

Born for the gridiron, Ward’s journey to greatness began at the Georgia in 1994. A versatile athlete, he showcased his multifaceted skill set by seamlessly transitioning between wide receiver, running back and even quarterback during his collegiate tenure. Ward’s impact was undeniable, as evidenced by his impressive stats—his 149 receptions and 1,965 yards placed him second in Georgia’s record books, while his 3,870 all-purpose yards cemented his legacy as one of the Bulldogs’ most electrifying players, trailing only the legendary Herschel Walker.

Hines Ward at Georgia
© Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

In 1998, Ward’s talent caught the attention of the NFL scouts, leading to his selection by the Steelers as the 92nd overall pick in the third round of the NFL Draft. It was the beginning of an illustrious professional career that would see him become a household name in football circles.

Donning the black and gold of the Steelers, Ward wasted no time making his mark on the NFL stage. For 217 games, all with Pittsburgh, he showcased his unmatched skill and determination, amassing an impressive 12,083 receiving yards, 1,000 receptions and 85 touchdowns. His on-field excellence earned him four Pro Bowl selections and three second-team All-Pro nods, underscoring his status as one of the league’s premier wide receivers.

Hines Ward Super Bowl XL MVP
© John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

However, Ward’s crowning achievement came on the grandest stage of them all—the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XL, he delivered a standout performance, earning MVP honors as he propelled the Steelers to a resounding 21-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Beyond the accolades and statistics, Ward’s impact transcended the field. His leadership, work ethic, and dedication to his craft served as an inspiration to teammates and fans alike. His enduring legacy is further solidified by his induction into the Steelers Hall of Fame, a testament to his indelible contributions to the franchise.

A Versatile Force in Football Beyond the Field

In addition to his illustrious playing career, Ward has seamlessly transitioned into the realm of coaching, bringing his wealth of knowledge and experience to the next generation of football talent.

Ward’s foray into coaching began in 2017 when he embarked on his journey as an offensive intern with the Steelers. It was a natural progression for Ward, who had already demonstrated his astute football acumen during his playing days. His time with the Steelers provided invaluable insights into the intricacies of coaching at the professional level, laying the groundwork for his future endeavors.

Building on this foundation, Ward expanded his coaching repertoire, serving as an offensive assistant with the Jets from 2019-20. During his tenure with the Jets, Ward honed his coaching skills while working closely with the team’s offensive unit, further solidifying his reputation as a rising star in the coaching ranks.

Hines Ward coaching NY Jets
© Danielle Parhizkaran/ via Imagn Content Services, LLC

In 2021, Ward embarked on a new chapter in his coaching career, joining former Florida Atlantic University coach Willie Taggart’s staff as a wide receivers coach. His experience working with Taggart and FAU provided Ward with an opportunity to impart his knowledge and expertise to collegiate athletes, nurturing their talents and guiding them toward success on and off the field.

Ward’s dedication to the development of young football players extended beyond the collegiate realm. In 2019, he assumed the role of Head of Football Development for the Alliance of American Football, where he played a pivotal role in shaping the league’s football operations and player development initiatives. His contributions to the AAF underscored his commitment to advancing the sport at all levels.

Dynamic Duo in the Big 12

Ward’s arrival at ASU signals a new era of excitement for Sun Devil football. Taking charge of one of the program’s most talented wide receiver units, Ward inherits a roster bursting with potential, featuring standout players like veteran transfer Jake Smith, explosive returner Elijhah Badger, and the dynamic Jordyn Tyson, fresh from Colorado.

Partnering with Dillingham in his second year at the helm, Ward steps onto the sidelines just as Arizona State makes its historic transition to the Big 12 Conference. Breaking away from 45 years of Pac-12 Conference tradition, the Sun Devils are primed to make waves in their new competitive landscape under the expert guidance of Ward and Dillingham. With Ward’s coaching prowess and the team’s formidable talent, Arizona State is poised to electrify the Big 12 and carve out a legacy of dominance in collegiate football.

As ASU gears up for an electrifying football season under the dynamic duo of Ward and Dillingham, they face a pivotal opener against Wyoming on Aug. 31.

Coming off a challenging 3-9 season, marked by roster changes and the lingering NCAA case from the previous coaching regime, the Sun Devils are hungry for redemption. With Ward’s strategic insights and Dillingham’s leadership, Arizona State is poised to turn the tide and kick off its Big 12 journey with a statement victory.


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