University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian announced Thursday that Keith Heyward has joined the football coaching staff as defensive backs coach. Heyward replaces Jeff Mills, ousted along with defensive coordinator Nick Holt and linebackers coach Mike Cox on Jan. 2, three days after Washington gave up 67 points in a 67-56 loss to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl.
Heyward comes to Washington after coaching at Oregon State, his alma mater, for the past four seasons. Heyward, the Beavers’ secondary coach, takes over a unit that allowed 284.6 passing yards per game and 22 TD passes overall in 2011.
“Keith is a bright, young coach and a terrific recruiter,” Sarkisian said in a statement released by the athletic department. “I think he’ll be a great fit with our new defensive staff, in particular Justin Wilcox, our new coordinator.”
Prior to joining the OSU staff in 2008, Heyward spent one season (2007) as an assistant at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA., and the two seasons before that as a graduate assistant at Oregon State.
Heyward coached second-team All-Pac-12 cornerback Jordan Poyer this past season, as well as safety Lance Mitchell, who earned honorable mention all-conference.
In his first season in charge of the secondary in Corvallis (2008), Heyward coached cornerbacks Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis, currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.
As an Oregon State player from 1997-00, Heyward won four letters, earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 following his senior season, which he capped by playing in the Hula Bowl.
Heyward started 35 consecutive games at cornerback for Oregon State and finished his career with a 41-9 victory over Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, a win that ended an 11-1 season for OSU.
Following his college career, Heyward played professionally for the BC Lions in the CFL, the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe and the L.A. Avengers in the Arena League. He also spent time in training camps with the 49ers and Seahawks.
Heyward graduated from Taft High in Woodland Hills, CA., and earned a degree in communications from OSU in 2002.