UND fills running back coach job with Western Illinois' Donnell Kirkwood

Prior to his time at Western Illinois, Kirkwood was a running backs coach at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

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UND football head coach Bubba Schweigert addresses his team following the first spring football practice of the season at the Fritz Pollard Jr. Athletic Center in Grand Forks on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — The UND football program lost its running backs coach this offseason to another team within the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The Fighting Hawks will fill that role by also pulling in a coach from within the league.

UND has hired Western Illinois running backs coach Donnell Kirkwood Jr. to coach the Fighting Hawks' running backs, the school announced Tuesday.

Kirkwood fills the role vacated by Steve Crutchley, who left to coach the wide receivers at North Dakota State.

"He played running back at the FBS level and will bring that experience along with an exceptional understanding of teaching skills needed to excel at that position," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "He has a strong knowledge of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and experience recruiting in our prime recruiting areas."


Prior to coaching running backs at Western Illinois, Kirkwood spent two seasons as the running backs coach and player experience coordinator at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

UND defensive line coach Austin Flyger was the defensive coordinator at Northern State in 2019 under then-Northern State head coach Tom Dosch, who works for the UND Alumni Association and Foundation and was the Fighting Hawks' radio analyst last season.

Kirkwood played for five seasons at the University of Minnesota, seeing action in 53 games. In his sophomore year with the Gophers, Kirkwood led Minnesota with 218 carries for 926 yards and six touchdowns.

Kirkwood is a Delray Beach, Fla., native.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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