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UK football great coming back home to commonwealth to be a head coach

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University of Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart talks to the media after the UK football team was selected to play in the Citrus Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. Both Kentucky and Penn State are 9-3.
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University of Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart talks to the media after the UK football team was selected to play in the Citrus Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. Both Kentucky and Penn State are 9-3.

University of Kentucky football great Craig Yeast is returning to the commonwealth as head coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro.

Yeast, UK’s all-time leading receiver with 208 catches, 2,899 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns, was announced Monday as the Panthers’ 17th head coach in the Division II program’s 58-year history. He will be introduced at a press conference at 2 p.m. CST Wednesday.

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Craig Yeast has been an offensive coordinator at Division III Franklin College in Indiana, where he led one of the nation’s most prolific offenses. Kentucky Wesleyan

“There is a tremendous opportunity to build an excellent football program at Kentucky Wesleyan, and the fact that KWC is in my home state made this position more intriguing,” Yeast said in a press release. “Furthermore, after spending time with athletic director Rob Mallory and understanding the vision he has for the culture of Wesleyan athletics gave me confirmation in believing a championship program can be built here. ... I am familiar with Owensboro, but I have not been here since 1994. Much has changed, so my family and I are looking forward to exploring and becoming a part of the Owensboro community.”

Yeast comes to Wesleyan after three years at Franklin College in Indiana where he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2017, the Grizzly offense led the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) in yards per game (564.5), total passing yards (4,478), total offense (6,210 yards) and scoring (48.6 points per game).

Yeast was last in Kentucky as head coach of Bryan Station High School for one season in 2011. He led the Defenders to a 7-5 mark before departing to become wide receivers coach at Division II Tiffin University where he also continued his education.

Yeast earned a degree in sports management from Midway College in 2011 and a masters in education from Tiffin in 2013.

After his career at Kentucky, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999 and also played for the New York Jets before jumping to the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League from 2003 to 2006.

Yeast and his wife Tori have two children. The eldest, Craig “Russ” Yeast II, is a sophomore cornerback at Louisville.

Yeast succeeds interim head coach Taurean Smith who guided the Panthers to a 3-7 record this season. Smith took over in July for Brent Holsclaw. Holsclaw, a former Panther quarterback, led the program for 15 seasons, compiling a record of 41-119. His best record came in 2014 at 7-4.

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