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Kirk Doll, who lettered as a defensive end at East Carolina in 1971 and 1972, and helped Sonny Randle's Pirates to a Southern Conference title as a senior, returned to his alma mater January 6, 2012 as special teams coordinator and running backs coach.
Doll's first three campaigns back in Greenville have been notable in both his areas of responsibility as he directed ECU's first 2,000-yard rushing season since 2009 (only the program's fourth since 1989) and completed an overhaul of the Pirates' special teams units that produced upper tier national statistical rankings despite working with a first-year punter (twice), placekicker and deep snapper.
After tutoring back-to-back 1,000-rushing performances by Vintavious Cooper in 2012 and 2013, which marked the first consecutive 1K seasons by a Pirate running back since 1993 and 1994, Doll successfully managed a multi-pronged ground attack in 2014 that netted 2,094 yards and an average of 4.8 an attempt -- ECU's highest per-carry clip since 2007.
After ranking last (120th) nationally in net punting in 2011 before his arrival, Doll's reconstruction assignment paid immediate dividends with a No. 55 standing in 2012. A year later, ECU stood seventh in the country with a kickoff return average of 25.1 yards per game and ranked among the FBS's Top 50 in three other special teams categories -- punt returns (39th), field goals made per game (39th) and punt return coverage (50th).
Solely from a punting standpoint, Doll's units have averaged over 42.0 yards per boot in three-straight seasons for only the second time in school history (and first since the 2001, 2002 and 2003 campaigns). He coached first-year punter Worth Gregory to a No. 23 national rank with a 43.6 average, which also included 13 kicks that traveled beyond 50 yards.
Doll has spent the previous 35 years coaching at college football's highest level with seven programs and in the professional ranks with two organizations. He has coached on teams that played in 17 bowl games and a pair of American Football Conference (AFC) playoff contests.
His lengthy and accomplished coaching career was deservedly recognized by his hometown in the spring of 2015 when he was inducted into the Wichita (Kan.) Sports Hall of Fame & Museum on April 18.
Before accepting the offer to return to his alma mater, Doll spent the 2011 season as San Jose State's special teams coordinator and running backs coach. The Spartans' kicking game thrived under his guidance as kicker Jens Alvernik finished second nationally in field goals per game and punter Harrison Waid ranked 26th in the FBS with a 42.79 average.
His decorated coaching career began at Wichita State in 1975 as a graduate assistant and continued with full-time appointments as offensive line coach at Tulsa (1980-84), outside linebackers coach at Arizona State (1985-87) and linebackers coach at Texas A&M (1988-93) before handling various responsibilities, including assistant head coach duties, at Notre Dame from 1994 to 2001.
He helped Louisiana State to a two-year mark of 21-6 as assistant head coach and linebackers coach in 2002 and 2003. The 2003 Tigers, which were guided by head coach Nick Saban and coordinators Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp, rolled to a 13-1 record and the BCS championship after a 21-14 victory over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
Doll's reputation as a special teams mentor was validated in the National Football League when he served Denver in that capacity from 2004 until 2006. In each of his three seasons in the Mile High City, the Broncos had a winning record and advanced to the 2005 AFC championship game.
He returned to Texas A&M for two more seasons (2008-09) as tight ends coach/special teams coach and had a one-year stint as special teams coach for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2010 before joining the San Jose State staff. In all, a total of 17 of his collegiate players have gone on to enjoy NFL careers.
Doll, 63, earned a bachelor's degree from ECU in 1973 before adding a second undergraduate degree from Wichita State in 1977.
He and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of three children - Kate, Kelsey and Kyle.