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Although the 2013 campaign will mark his ninth overall year with the East Carolina program, Donnie Kirkpatrick will begin his fourth season on Ruffin McNeill's staff after accepting an opportunity to remain with the Pirates as inside receivers coach in January of 2010.
Kirkpatrick, who initially arrived in Greenville in December, 2004 as receivers coach, also continues to serve as ECU's tireless recruiting coordinator - a duty that has produced notable results such as Top 40 status in several national recruiting publications.
His first two years with the Pirates were noteworthy as he tutored Aundrae Allison to the program's first 1,000-yard receiving season and developed walk-on Phillip Henry into an All-Conference USA performer.
After Allison became the first ECU receiver since 1999 to earn selection in the NFL Draft (Minnesota Vikings) the following spring, Kirkpatrick successfully mixed experienced and young talent in 2007 with sophomore All-Conference USA selection Jamar Bryant and C-USA All-Freshman Team member Dwayne Harris. In addition, a pair of his receivers played critical roles during two notable victories during the '07 campaign as Juwon Crowell snared a 34-yard touchdown pass with no time left at UTEP to force overtime and Bryant was on the other end of a 36-yarder on a third-and-eight play that set up ECU's game-winning field goal against Boise State in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.
The 2008 campaign perhaps displayed Kirkpatrick's resolve and flexibility after losing his top two pass catchers at mid-season. Instead, he turned to Alex Taylor, who entered his junior year without a college reception, and freshmen Darryl Freeney and Joe Womack, and the trio combined on 62 catches down the stretch to give the Pirates' passing game a lift on the way to a C-USA title.
He simply reloaded a year later, using a record-setting performance by Harris to help East Carolina capture its second-straight league championship.
His first season in McNeill's high-scoring spread offensive scheme enabled Kirkpatrick to reach greater heights as top pupil Harris earned C-USA Most Valuable Player honors after setting school single-season and career records for most receptions (101/268) and reception yardage (1,123/3,001) before getting drafted in the sixth round by the Dallas Cowboys.
In 2011, Kirkpatrick developed walk-on Justin Hardy to inclusion on Conference USA's All-Freshman Team in addition to national all-freshman team selections by the Bleacher Report and Phil Steele Magazine. Hardy set East Carolina rookie records with 64 receptions and 658 yards, finishing the campaign ranked fourth in C-USA in receptions per game (6.4) and eighth in receiving yards per game (65.8).
Hardy followed with the program's third-highest single-season catch (88) and yardage (1,105) totals as a sophomore in 2012, while his 11 touchdown grabs were the second-most in ECU history. Kirkpatrick's receivers were a critical component for a unit that amassed 3,551 yards through the air, accounting for 19 of the Pirates 25 receiving scores.
Before joining the ECU staff, Kirkpatrick served as wide receivers coach at Western Carolina during the 2003 and 2004 seasons which followed a three-year head coaching tenure at Chattanooga, which began in 2000.While WCU topped the Southern Conference in passing offense (239.8 ypg) in 2003, Kirkpatrick tutored Catamount receivers Lamont Seward and Michael Reeder, who both ranked among the top four receivers in the SoCon with a combined 132 catches.
Kirkpatrick orchestrated one of the top aerial attacks in SoCon history while guiding the UTC program from 2000 to 2002, ranking first in passing offense (339.1 ypg) and total offense (453.5 ypg) during his initial year in Chattanooga.
His offensive units also finished third in passing in 2001 (192.7 ypg) and second in 2002 (220.4) during that span, which followed a successful year as UTC's offensive coordinator in which the Mocs' topped the SoCon in passing (326.5 ypg) and stood third in total offense (454.4 ypg). In addition, UTC set Southern Conference single-season records in 1999 for most pass attempts (496) and completions (300).
Prior to his move to Chattanooga, Kirkpatrick spent three years on Ron Cooper's staff as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Louisville (1995-97) where he initiated the development of Cardinals' quarterback Chris Redman, who finished his career as one of the top passers in school and Conference USA history.
Kirkpatrick also served on Cooper's staff at Eastern Michigan for two seasons, handling wide receivers in 1993 before earning a promotion to assistant head coach, quarterbacks and running backs coach in 1994 where he worked directly with former Detroit Lions starting quarterback Charlie Batch. He also spent four seasons at South Carolina (1989-1992) as quarterback coach and recruiting coordinator after obtaining his first full-time coaching position at Appalachian State in 1984, which lasted five seasons.
He earned a bachelor's degree in education from Lenoir-Rhyne College in 1982 before following with a master's in secondary education from Appalachian State in 1984.
Kirkpatrick, 53, is married to the former Misty McReery of Lexington, N.C., and the couple are the parents of two children - Molly and Davis.