For the first time in a decade, the Washington State football team has a tight ends coach, albeit one who’s never coached the position before.

The school announced the hiring Friday of Nick Whitworth, who will shepherd tight ends back into the Cougar offense. He also will serve as the prime coordinator of special teams, a job he’s more familiar with.

The former Idaho State running back and kick returner has been at Texas State the past three seasons as running backs coach and special teams coordinator.

He previously had filled similar roles at Portland State and Central Washington, for four years each.

“Nick has a rich history in the Pacific Northwest and we are excited to bring him back to create and elevate our tight end position,” WSU coach Jake Dickert said in a news release. “His extensive knowledge and passion for special teams was evident throughout the process and he will be a great fit for our program.”

Since the hiring of Mike Leach before the 2012 season, the Cougars have employed offenses that don’t use tight ends, starting with Leach’s Air Raid for eight years, then Nick Rolovich’s run-and-shoot.

But Dickert, tabbed as permanent head coach after the 2021 regular season, released the run-and-shoot adherents on Rolovich’s staff and replaced offensive coordinator Brian Smith with Eric Morris, a Leach disciple who last year ushered tight ends into his version of the Air Raid as coach at Incarnate Word. He plans to do the same in Pullman.

So far, the Cougars officially have only one tight end in their fold, incoming freshman Andre Dollar, of Mustang, Okla., who came on board during the early signing period in December and is enrolling for the spring semester. The traditional signing period starts Feb. 2, and the Cougs have several scholarships still available.

In his role as special teams coordinator, Whitworth will share duties with edge-rush coach A.J. Cooper, who worked with those units during his six years at Wyoming.

Dickert also announced his new secondary coach, Jordan Malone, will be assigned to cornerbacks, whom he’d coached on an interim basis during the final six games of 2021. When Dickert divulged Malone’s hiring earlier in the week, he wasn’t sure if he’d be in charge of corners or safeties. Dickert has yet to announce his pick as safeties coach, the only remaining vacancy on his staff.

Grummert may be contacted at daleg@lmtribune.com or 208-848-2290.

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