Zach Kittley is the leading candidate to be Texas Tech's offensive coordinator, sources told FootballScoop on Saturday.
A deal is not in place at this time, but could be by the end of the weekend. Sources said Red Raiders head coach Joey McGuire has multiple interviews scheduled for the weekend with other candidates still in consideration, but also that McGuire has asked many colleagues within the profession for feedback on Kittley and that both sides are motivated to bring the Lubbock native home.
Kittley has numerous connections to Texas Tech. Most immediately, his dad Wes has led the Red Raiders' cross country and track & field programs for more than 20 years. Wes Kittley brought the first men's sport national championship to Lubbock when the Red Raiders claimed the men's outdoor track & field title.
Beyond that, Kittley is a Wolfforth Frenship high school graduate who walked on to Abilene Christian's basketball team but quickly found himself working under Kliff Kingsbury's wing at the Texas Tech football offices.
Kittley joined the program in 2013 as a student assistant, then promoted to graduate assistant working with the quarterbacks in 2015, which happened to be Patrick Mahomes' first season as a starter. In two seasons, Kittley helped the future NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion throw for 9,705 yards and 77 touchdowns.
"He is incredibly sharp and is definitely one of the brightest young minds in the game," Kingsbury said of Kittley. "That was obvious early at Texas Tech and he did a tremendous job for us; I know he had a big impact on Patrick Mahomes and was critical to his development."
"He's a talented young coach who certainly made an impact on my career while we were together at Texas Tech. I appreciate the time he invested in me on and off the field," Mahomes added."
Kittley left Texas Tech in 2018 for the offensive coordinator job at Houston Baptist.
Inheriting a team that ranked 96th in passing, 112th in yards and 117th in scoring, Kittley lifted the Huskies to new heights each season. HBU doubled its scoring output in his debut season of 2018, moved to 14th in FCS in 2019, and by 2020 led FCS in passing and ranked second in total offense. The 2020 season included Kittley's return to Jones AT&T Stadium, where HBU quarterback Bailey Zappe threw for 567 yards and four touchdowns, playing the Red Raiders to a 35-33 final as 40-point underdogs.
That success led Kittley to Western Kentucky where, along with Zappe and his three top HBU receivers, the Hilltoppers easily had the nation's top passing offense. Zappe's 426 yards per game placed him more than 20 yards ahead of the next-most-prolific passer, and his 56 touchdowns place him just four behind Joe Burrow's FBS single-season record with one game to play. (Burrow played 15 games that season, Zappe will play 14.)
Kittley turned 30 just before this season began.
Beyond the obvious, Kittley could also be a key cog in Texas Tech's pursuit of Quinn Ewers.
Mahomes and Ewers have cultivated a relationship, finding common ground in their shared ability to throw a football harder and farther than just about any other human being to ever live.
(Obviously, the other QB in the above photo is former Longhorn Sam Ehlinger. Ewers grew up a Texas fan and spent three months last year as a Texas commitment. Let the games begin.)
Mahomes tweeted this when Ewers announced his intent to leave Southlake Carroll a year early to enroll at Ohio State.
Friday night, when news that the 5-star quarterback Ewers hitting the transfer portal became public, Mahomes tweeted this.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.