Auburn names Ike Hilliard as Receivers Coach
AUBURN, Ala.— Auburn football has named former SEC great and 12-year National Football League veteran Ike Hilliard as wide receivers coach, head coach Bryan Harsin announced Wednesday. An All-American at Florida in 1996, Hilliard spent the previous 11 seasons coaching in the NFL, most recently as wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Ike is exactly what we are looking for to lead our wide receivers room. His credentials really speak for themself – All-American in the SEC, NFL First Round pick, 12 years as a very productive player in the league and a decade plus coaching in the NFL,” Harsin said. “Amongst all of those accomplishments one other thing really stood out showing who Ike is as a person and leader. He made a commitment to his family that he would graduate from college, and he never lost sight of that, finishing up his degree while also being a full-time NFL coach. Ike, without a doubt, possesses the same values that we want our Auburn program to be known for – character, discipline, toughness and conviction. We are excited to welcome Ike, his wife Lourdes and their children to the Auburn family.”
This past season with the Steelers, Hilliard had two receivers with over 100 receptions in Diontae Johnson (169) and Chase Claypool (105). Johnson led the team with 1,161 yards, 169 receptions and eight touchdowns enroute to earning his first All-Pro honors. Johnson was seventh in the league in receptions and 10th in receiving yards.
During the 2020 season, Hilliard’s first in Pittsburgh, the Steelers became just the seventh team in NFL history to have five different players catch at least five touchdown passes in a single season; wide receiver Chase Claypool (9), wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9), wide receiver Diontae Johnson (7), wide receiver James Washington (5) and tight end Eric Ebron (5). Claypool led all rookie receivers in touchdown catches (9), while finishing second among rookies in total touchdowns (11) and fourth among rookies in receiving yards (873).
“Auburn is one of true giants within the college football landscape. The responsibility – and opportunity – to be a part of Coach Harsin’s staff here at Auburn is something I’m extremely grateful for,” Hilliard said. “The process in place to grow and build this program is impressive, I felt it in every conversation I had with Coach Harsin and others on staff. The decision was easy to join the Auburn family. It’s go-time now as I can’t wait to teach, mentor and lead the young men in our wide receiver room.”
Hilliard served as the wide receivers coach in Washington for seven seasons over two different stints (2012, 2014-19). He has also served as the wide receivers coach in Buffalo (2013) and assistant wide receivers coach in Miami (2011).
Under Hilliard’s tutelage in 2019, wideout Terry McLaurin had one of the top rookie receiving seasons in Washington Football Team history. He led Washington in all three major receiving categories. McLaurin registered 58 catches for 919 yards and 7 TD receptions in 14 games. His 919 receiving yards and 7 TDs ranked second in franchise rookie history. Among all NFL rookies, McLaurin ranked second in receiving yards, tied for second in receptions and tied for third in TD receptions. He also ranked second in yards per catch (15.8) among rookies with at least 20 receptions.
In 2018, Hilliard played a major role in wide receiver Josh Doctson setting single season career highs in receptions (44) and receiving yards (532). He also oversaw a season in which Jamison Crowder set a single season high in yards per reception with a mark of 13.4.
Hilliard guided a young wide receiver corps in 2017 that helped quarterback Kirk Cousins become the first player in team history to record a third consecutive 4,000-yard passing season. Jamison Crowder led Washington in receptions (66) and receiving yards (789) and at age 24 on the final day of the calendar year, became the youngest player to lead Washington in receptions since Gary Clark (24) in 1986. Meanwhile, second-year pro Josh Doctson, who had been limited by injury to only two games in his rookie campaign, led Washington with six receiving TDs, and fourth-year pro Ryan Grant recorded career highs in receptions (45), receiving yards (573) and receiving TDs (four).
Hilliard’s group played a major role in Washington’s record-setting offense in 2016, a unit that set single-season team records in yards per game (403.4), yards per play (6.40), net passing yards (4,758), completions (407), passing first downs (226) and 500-yard games (three). Veteran wideouts Pierre Garçon (1,041) and DeSean Jackson (1,005) both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season, representing the first time Washington featured multiple 1,000-yard receivers since 1999 (Albert Connell and Michael Westbrook).
During Washington’s NFC East championship season in 2015, Hilliard coached a group that prominently featured two prolific veterans (Garçon and Jackson) and two young players in their first or second NFL seasons (Crowder and Ryan Grant, respectively). Garçon posted 72 receptions, the second highest total of his career, while Jackson recorded 528 receiving yards and 4 TDs despite being limited by injury to nine games. Hilliard’s guidance also helped Crowder to a Washington rookie record 59 receptions in 2015.
In his return to Washington in 2014, Hilliard managed the incorporation of Jackson into the team’s offense after joining the team as a free agent. Jackson led Washington with 1,169 receiving yards on 56 receptions, becoming the fifth member of Washington to post 1,000 receiving yards in his first season in Washington (Bobby Mitchell in 1962, Henry Ellard in 1994, Laveranues Coles in 2003 and Santana Moss in 2005). Jackson averaged an NFL best 20.9 yards per reception and was the first member of Washington to finish a season as the NFL leader in yards per reception since Henry Ellard (19.5 in 1996).
Hilliard served as wide receivers coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2013, helping mold a young group that included rookie second-round pick Robert Woods (40 receptions for 587 yards with three TDs) and rookie third-round pick Marquise Goodwin (17 receptions for 283 yards with three TDs).
In his first stint with Washington in 2012, Hilliard guided the team’s receivers to the franchise’s first division title since 1999. He incorporated free agents Pierre Garçon and Joshua Morgan into the offense, helping Garçon lead the team in receiving yards (633 in only 10 games) and helping Morgan lead Washington in receptions (48). Hilliard also oversaw the resurgence of veteran slot receiver Santana Moss, who caught 41 passes for 573 yards and 8 TDs, his most since recording 9 receiving TDs in his first season in Washington in 2005. The group’s toughness on the perimeter also helped the offense rush for a League-best 2,709 yards, a franchise record.
In 2011, Hilliard served as the assistant wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins. He helped in the development of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was selected for his third Pro Bowl and first as a member of the Dolphins. Additionally, Marshall finished third in the AFC in receiving yards with 1,214 and recorded his fifth-consecutive 1,000-plus yard season.
Prior to joining the Dolphins, Hilliard spent two seasons coaching for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League. Hilliard worked as a volunteer coach with the Tuskers in 2009 and was elevated to the position of Receivers Coach for 2010.
As a player, Hilliard was a first-round selection in the 1997 NFL Draft (No. 7 overall). He played 12 seasons, eight with the New York Giants (1997-2004) and four with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2005-08). In 161 career games (106 starts), Hilliard caught 546 passes for 6,397 yards and 35 TDs.
Hilliard played collegiately at the University of Florida from 1994-96, catching 126 passes for 2,214 yards and 26 TDs. He earned first-team All-SEC and All-American honors as a junior. In the final game that season, he recorded 7 catches for 150 yards and 3 TDs to help lead the Gators to a 52-20 Sugar Bowl win to secure the school’s first national championship.
Hilliard is a native of Patterson