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Atomic City

Hardesty following Helton to WKU

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I live a few blocks from WKU, so at whatever welcoming event I will go and see what kind of autograph/photo I can get...

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Helton hires Chestnut, Hardesty as assistant coaches

Tyson Helton has added two more assistant coaches to his Western Kentucky staff.

Helton has hired Chris Chestnut to coach wide receivers and Montario Hardesty to coach running backs, the Daily News learned Tuesday.

Those two join Maurice Crum (linebackers) Bryan Ellis (offensive coordinator), Jimmy Lindsey (defensive ends), Kenny Martin (defensive tackles), Richard Owens (tight end), Jason Veltkamp (strength and conditioning), Clayton White (defensive coordinator) and TJ Woods (offensive line) on the new coach's Hilltopper staff.

Chestnut comes to WKU from Tennessee State, where he spent the last three seasons. He coached the Tigers' wide receivers the last two years.

The Durham, N.C., native began his college playing career at College of the Canyons before transferring to Western Michigan, where he was a team captain his senior year. He went on to play in the Arena Football League from 2004-06.

Chestnut coached in his hometown at North Durham High School from 2004-08 and again from 2013-14. He's worked for college programs in various capacities at Ellsworth Community College (2009), Campbell (2010-11), South Florida (2012), Miami (Fla.) (2015) and TSU (2016-18).

WKU's wide receivers were coached the last two seasons by Junior Adams, who also served as the Toppers' offensive coordinator. He won't be retained by Helton.

Returning wideouts for WKU include Lucky Jackson (50 catches, 552 yards, four touchdowns), Quin Jernighan (41 catches, 437 yards, one TD) and Jacquez Sloan (31 catches, 495 yards).

Hardesty worked last season as a quality control analyst at Tennessee, where Helton was offensive coordinator in 2018.

The former Volunteers running back rushed for 2,391 yards and 26 touchdowns during his career at Tennessee (2005-09). He was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, who he played for from 2010-13.

Hardesty served coaching stints at Norfolk State (2014-16) and Florida Atlantic (2017) before going to Tennessee.

WKU's running backs were coached the last two years by Mike Sanford Sr., father of former coach Mike Sanford. Sanford Sr. was dismissed Nov. 25, the same day his son was fired after his second season.

Joshua Samuel (121 carries, 639 yards, one touchdown) returns in 2019 as the Hilltoppers' leading rusher.

– Follow Daily News sports reporter Brad Stephens on Twitter @BradBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com

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