Frank Wilson, widely considered one of the top recruiters in college football, enters his sixth season as LSU’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator in 2015. Since joining the staff, Wilson has been vital to LSU’s success both on and off the field helping the Tigers to four seasons of at least 10 wins, while also annually orchestrating one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.
In six years as LSU’s recruiting coordinator, Wilson has engineered signing classes that have ranked among the top 10 in the nation five times, including the No. 2 rated class in 2014. LSU’s 2014 signing class featured the consensus No. 1 rated player in the nation in Leonard Fournette and the No. 1 rated wide receiver (Malachi Dupre). LSU had the No. 6 rated class in 2011 and the seventh-ranked class in 2013 and the No. 8 ranked class in 2015. Wilson was named as the 2011 Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com.
On the field, Wilson has continued to develop and manage an LSU backfield that annually, despite its youth, features some of the best players in the SEC. Under Wilson, LSU has recorded 34 100-yard rushing games and he’s also seen the Tiger running game produce three 1,000-yard rushers. LSU has also had six running backs selected in the NFL Draft since Wilson joined the staff.
In 2014, Wilson managed a backfield that consisted of two seniors in Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard along with a pair of true freshmen in Fournette and Darrel Williams. The end result had the Tigers ranking No. 4 in the SEC in rushing with 225 yards per game with Fournette leading the way with an LSU freshman record 1,034 yards and 10 TDs. Fournette went on to earn Freshman All-SEC honors, while Hilliard was selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.
In 2013, sophomore Jeremy Hill earned first team All-SEC honors after racking up 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns in helping the Tigers to a 10-3 mark and a school-record 37 rushing touchdowns. Hill, who was picked in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, rushed for 216 yards and a pair of TDs against Iowa in the Outback Bowl in what was the final game of his career. Hill’s 1,401 yards ranked No. 2 on the LSU single-season list, while his 16 TDs stands at No.4 in school history.
As a unit, LSU rushed for 202.3 yards per game in 2013 as the Tigers had a total of four players produce 300 or more yards on the ground. Magee was second on the team with 626 yards and eight touchdowns, Alfred Blue had 343 yards and one score and Hilliard with 310 yards and seven touchdowns. Blue was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL Draft giving LSU two running backs picked in the same draft for the first time since 2003.
Hill burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2012, rushing for 755 yards and 12 touchdowns in helping the Tigers to a 10-3 mark. LSU averaged 173.7 yards rushing per game with sophomore Hilliard (464 yards, 6 TDs), Michael Ford (392 yards, 5 TDs) and Spencer Ware (367 yards, 1 TD) joining Hill in the backfield for the bulk of the carries. Ware, who opted to leave LSU following his junior season, was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Seahawks.
In 2011, LSU’s backfield consisted of three sophomores and a true freshman as the Tigers averaged 202 rushing yards and tied a school record with 35 rushing touchdowns. Ford led the group in 2011 with 756 yards and seven TDs, followed by Ware with 707 yards and eight scores. For the first time in school history, LSU’s backfield featured four running backs who each accounted for at least seven rushing TDs (Ware and Hilliard with 8, Ford and Alfred Blue with 7). Also, for the first time since 1997, LSU had three running backs go over the 500-yard mark in the same season (Ford, 756, Ware 707, Blue 539). LSU had four different running backs lead the team in rushing in 2011.
In 2010, junior Stevan Ridley, in his first season as a starter, rushed for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns on his way to earning first team All-SEC honors. Ridley, who opted to forgo his senior season, went on to be drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots.
Ridley was backed up by a trio of freshmen, including Ford (244 yards, 3 TDs) and Ware, who rushed for 102 yards in the Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M.
Wilson, a native of New Orleans, joined the LSU staff after spending the 2009 season at Tennessee, where he coached wide receivers.
Prior to joining the Tennessee staff, Wilson spent the 2008 season at Southern Mississippi as running back coach and recruiting coordinator. He also served as running backs coach and special teams assistant at Ole Miss from 2005-07.
In his second year with the Rebels, Wilson’s primary pupil, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, finished third in the SEC in rushing at 83.2 yards per game. Green-Ellis was named All-SEC first team by Associated Press. Under Wilson’s tutelage, Green-Ellis finished the season with 1,000 yards, fourth on the Ole Miss season charts, and has since become a 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL with the Patriots.
Wilson joined the Ole Miss staff after serving one year as Director of Athletics for the New Orleans Public School System. He served 3½ seasons as head football coach and offensive coordinator at O. Perry Walker High School in that city prior to his stint as director of athletics.
While at O. Perry Walker, Wilson led the Chargers to the 2002 Class 4A state finals and to District 10-4A championships in 2001 and 2002. He was honored by the NFL as the 2002 Coach of the Year for the state of Louisiana and was voted by his peers as the Louisiana Class 4A Coach of the Year. Wilson also was a 2002 Nike National Coach of the Year finalist.
Wilson coached the Orleans Parish All-Star team against the Jefferson Parrish All-Star team in 2002, leading his group of players to the win in the Louisiana Superdome. He also was honored as 2001 state metro area and district coach of the year.
During his three-year at O. Perry Walker, Wilson helped guide 22 players to Division I scholarships, including 11 in 2002 to rank as the nation’s largest class of Division I signees by any one high school.
Wilson spent three years as an assistant coach at Edna Karr High School, also in New Orleans, from 1997-2000. He served as offensive coordinator at Edna Karr during the 1999 season in which the team reached the Class 3A state finals and the offense recorded the best statistical season in the program’s history.
Wilson got his start in coaching as a student assistant at his alma mater, Nicholls State University, working with the running backs while he finished his degree. While at Nicholls State, Wilson helped coach the first 1,000-yard rusher in school history and was part of the biggest turnaround in NCAA history at the time for the Colonels, who improved from 0-10 in 1995 to 8-2 in 1996.
A three-year letterman on the football team at Nicholls State, Wilson earned honorable mention all-conference honors as a running back his sophomore year. He was also named preseason all-conference as a defensive back his junior year and as a running back his senior year. Wilson attended Geneva University in Beaver Falls, Pa., his freshman season, earning conference Freshman of the Year honors as a tailback and kick returner. He also earned first team all-conference honors and was an NAIA Division II All-America honorable mention.
Wilson received his Bachelor of Arts degree in general education from Nicholls State in 1997. He then went on to earn a certificate of education in biology from Southern University in New Orleans in 2002.
Wilson and his wife, Tiffany, have three children: Alaina, Sa’bree and Frank IV.
THE WILSON FILE
YEAR AT LSU: Sixth (appointed Dec. 7, 2009)
BIRTHDATE: Nov. 5, 1973 in New Orleans
CHILDREN: Alaina, Sa’bree, and Frank IV
HIGH SCHOOL: St. Augustine High School
COLLEGE: Nicholls State (B.A., 1997); Southern Univ.-New Orleans (2002)
1992 Geneva (Pa.) University (running back)
1993-95 Nicholls State (running back/defensive back)
1996 Nicholls State (student assistant)
1997-99 Karr High School (assistant coach)
2000-03 O.P. Walker High School (head coach)
2005-07 Ole Miss (running backs/special teams)
2008 Southern Miss (running backs/recruiting coordinator)
2009 Tennessee (wide receivers)
2010- LSU (running backs/recruiting coordinator)
SEASON BOWL, TEAM, OPPONENT, RESULTS
2008, New Orleans, Southern Miss, Troy, W, 30-27
2009, Capital One, LSU, Penn State, L, 19-17
2010, Cotton, LSU, Texas A&M, W, 41-24
2011, BCS, LSU, Alabama, L, 21-0
2012, Chick-fil-A, LSU, Clemson, L, 25-24
2013, Outback, LSU, Iowa, W, 21-14
2014, Music City, LSU, Notre Dame, L, 31-28