Ex-NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley is returning to his home state of Michigan as head football coach at Division II Wayne State.
“I am beyond excited to welcome Coach Wheatley and his family to the Wayne State community,” interim athletic director Erika Wallace said in a news release on Thursday. “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.”
Wheatley, 51, played his high school football at Dearborn Heights Robichaud High School before playing at Michigan. He earned three straight all-Big Ten honors (1992-94), and the Giants selected Wheatley with the No. 17 overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with New York, followed by six with the then-Oakland Raiders.
He began his coaching career at his high school alma mater in 2007. He advanced through the coaching ranks, working as running backs coach at Syracuse and Michigan, as well as with the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars before becoming head coach at FCS-level Morgan State in 2019.
He compiled a 5-18 record over two seasons and left the job in 2022 to coach running backs for the Denver Broncos.
“I am looking forward to coming home, as they always say there is no place like home,” Wheatley said of returning to Detroit. “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.”
He was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Wheatley replaces Paul Winters, with whom Wayne State parted ways in December after 19 years. Winters had a career 94-105 record with the Warriors and led the program to the 2011 Division II national championship game. The team was 1-9 last season.