WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – Baylor Football has a couple of new additions!
Baylor Athletics says AJ Steward has been named as the assistant head coach/running backs coach for Baylor Football. Tyler Hancock will direct the special teams, as announced by head coach Dave Aranda on Monday.
Steward joins the Bears’ coaching staff after spending the last two seasons at Oregon State in the same role. He has also had previous stops at Arizona (2020), BYU (2018-19) and Rice (2014-17). A former Kansas tight end, Steward opened his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Rice in 2012-13 before taking on the running backs coaching role for the Owls.
Hancock will lead the special teams unit after serving as the special teams coordinator the last two seasons at Charlotte. He previously served as the senior analyst at West Virginia (2019-20), the special teams’ quality control coach at Maryland (2016-18) and as a defensive intern and later an offensive assistant at Kentucky (2013-16).
“My family and I are thrilled to be joining the Baylor Family,” Steward said. “We are grateful and honored for the opportunity to join Coach Dave Aranda’s staff and I am excited to work with this great group of student-athletes and coaches!”
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Steward spent the last two seasons coaching the tailbacks at Oregon State, helping the Beavers to a 10-3 season and a 30-3 win over Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl. OSU reached the 10-win mark for just the third time in its history and the first time since 2006, finishing the year ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches’ polls, checking in No. 14 in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
The Beavers ended the season winning four consecutive and seven of their last eight games. Steward led an elite running backs unit that saw three backs rush for over 400 yards. First-Team All-Pac 12 selection Damien Martinez totaled 982 yards on the ground with seven TDs, Deshaun Fenwich toted it 114 times for 553 yards and seven scores and Jam Griffin had 488 yards rushing and four TDs.
“AJ is a great addition to our coaching staff, and we are excited to bring him and his wife Virginia to Waco,” Aranda said. “AJ has quickly developed a reputation as one of the top running back coaches in the nation, and as a tireless and skilled recruiter who has a great feel for the state of Texas. AJ is man of faith who places tremendous value in person over player. I have no doubt he will be a tremendous leader within our program.”
Martinez, recruited to Oregon State as a three-star recruit out of Lewisville, Texas, earned First-Team Freshman All-America honors from The Athletic in his first year working with Steward. He was named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, was a three-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week selection and tied the program standard with six straight 100+ yard rushing performances in 2022.
It was the second-straight elite running back unit led by Steward, as his group was led by the Pac-12 leading rusher, B.J. Baylor in 2021. Baylor rushed for 1,337 yards in 2021 to earn All-Pac 12 first-team accolades and honorable mention All-America honors. Under his guidance, the Beavers set program records with 5.3 yards per rush and 6.4 yards per play.
Steward spent the 2020 season as the running backs coach at Arizona, where the Wildcats rushed for over 156 yards per game during a COVID-19 shortened season. He helped guide Gary Brightwell to a sixth-round selection in the NFL Draft.
Working under Grimes at BYU in 2018-19, serving as the running backs coach. The Cougs rushed for 52 total TDs in his two seasons, as Grimes implanted his “RVO” offense to great aplomb with the assistance of Steward. BYU had five different players go for 100 or more rushing yards in a game over the two seasons, averaging nearly 160 rushing yards per game in each of his seasons. He helped guide the Cougars to the 2019 Hawaii Bowl and the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
In 2019, Steward mentored a pair of graduate transfers at running back for the Cougars, including Ty’Son Williams and Emmanuel Esukpa. The duo helped combine with others in a talented room to total over 2,000 rushing yards for the first time since 2016, going for 4.4 yards per carry with 25 total TDs.
Steward coached at Rice from 2012-17, serving as the graduate assistant from 2012-13 before taking over as the full-time running backs coach for the 2014 season. In 2017, Rice ranked in the nation’s top 40, averaging 187 rushing yards per game, with Nahshon Ellerbe and Austin Walter combining for 10 rushing scores and 5.3 yards per carry.
He mentored Rice running backs Darik Dillard and Jowan Davis, who combined for 4,226 yards and 36 TDs in their careers, both ranking among the top-10 rushers in program history. In 2015, he had four backs go for at least one 100+ yard rushing effort, a first in Rice history. Samuel Stewart and Austin Walter earned Conference USA All-Freshman Team honors and helped guide the Owls to the Armed Forces Bowl, the Liberty Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl. While he was a graduate assistant in 2013, Steward helped Charles Ross lead C-USA in rushing with 1,280 yards and 15 TDs.
Steward was a four-year letterwinner at Kansas, where he was recruited as a quarterback, moved to wide receiver and eventually to tight end. He played in 37 career games, with five catches for 31 yards and three tackles. He was named the Scout Team Player of the Year for the Jayhawks during their 2007 Orange Bowl season.
A four-time member of the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll, he earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Kansas in 2012 and will be joined in Waco by his wife, Virginia.
Hancock joins the Bears following two seasons on the staff at Charlotte as the special teams coordinator. He previously spent two seasons as the senior analyst for special teams at West Virginia, three seasons as the special teams’ quality control coach at Maryland (2016-18), and four years at Kentucky, where he was a defensive intern and later an offensive assistant.
“Tyler is a valuable addition to our staff,” Aranda said. “He has had great success working with special teams units throughout his career and can step in immediately to help lead our group. His versatile experience working with several positional groups is a great asset when it comes to directing a special teams unit. When paired with his experience in the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference , Tyler is positioned to bring great perceptive to our staff.”
A native of Lexington, Ky., Hancock guided a 49ers special teams unit for the last two years, with Charlotte ranking among the nation’s top-10 in punt-return defense in consecutive seasons (No. 4 in 2022 and No. 8 in 2021).
In 2022, the 49ers ranked among the nation’s leaders in several key special team categories, including fourth in punt return defense average, No. 10 in blocked kicks, No. 31 in blocked punts and No. 32 in net punting average. Bailey Rice averaged 42.72 yards per punt under Hancock’s guidance, including 18 downed inside the 20-yard line and 13 going for 50+ yards.
In 2021, Hancock’s first year leading the special teams unit, Charlotte ranked eighth in punt-return defense, 21st in the nation in blocked kicks, 32nd in blocked punts, 36th in kickoff returns and 40th in net punting. Rice averaged 42.28 yards per punt, with 14 downed inside the 20-yard line and five going for at least 50. Yards. Charlotte was 10-for-15 in field-goal attempts and 44-of-60 kickoffs went for touchbacks.
During his two seasons at West Virginia, Hancock served as the senior analyst for special teams, overseeing the program’s analysts and quality-control coaches, while helping lead the special teams unit and its game plans.
He was the special teams quality control coach at Maryland from 2016-18, working with linebackers and tight ends, in addition to the specialists.
While at Kentucky, Hancock shined with his versatility, working with special teams, outside linebackers and defensive backs. He also worked as an offensive assistant, with primary responsibilities including the quarterbacks and tight ends. He helped head coach Mark Stoops resurrect the Kentucky program, with the Wildcats advancing to the TaxSlayer Bowl in 2016 after the Wildcats posted consecutive 5-7 seasons in 2014 and 2015. The Cats rallied to win five of their final seven games to secure bowl eligibility in 2016, the first of seven consecutive bowl berths for UK.
Hancock served as the quarterbacks coach and co-passing game coordinator at Kentucky Wesleyan and got his coaching start at Kentucky football juggernaut Lexington Catholic, where he had prepped as a quarterback.
He is a 2012 graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan, after opening his collegiate career at NAIA powerhouse Georgetown [Ky.] College and redshirting for a season at Delta State.