Five things to know about Alabama football's new running backs coach Robert Gillespie

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

Alabama has now officially filled three of the four vacancies on its offensive staff in announcing the hire of Robert Gillespie as its running backs coach. Gillespie comes from the same position at North Carolina.

Here are five things to know about Gillespie.

He’s produced three 1,000-yard rushers in the last two seasons 

Michael Carter barely crossed the benchmark threshold in 2019, needing 84 yards in the Military Bowl against Temple to reach 1,003 rushing yards. In 2020, there was no such doubt: under Gillespie, North Carolina was the only school to produce two 1,000-yard rushers, Carter again with 1,245 and Javonte Williams with 1,140.

The two combined for 26 touchdowns. Thanks to their efforts, North Carolina led the ACC in yards per carry and led the conference in carries of 10 yards or more and 20 yards or more. The two tied for the individual lead in runs of 10 years or more, each tallying 41.

Most of his experience comes in the SEC 

Gillespie started his career as a graduate assistant at South Carolina in 2005. Of his 16 seasons of coaching experience, nine of them have come at SEC schools.

He was at South Carolina for four years, the first as a graduate assistant and the next three as its running backs coach. After four years in the Big 12, two at Oklahoma State and two at West Virginia, he returned for five seasons as Tennessee’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

He played and coached for Steve Spurrier 

Gillespie’s playing career at Florida doubled as Spurrier’s final four seasons in Gainesville; after a brief professional playing career, Spurrier hired Gillespie at South Carolina, where he worked under Spurrier for all four of his seasons there.

Gillespie also spent a considerable amount of time with Butch Jones, having spent all five of his seasons at Tennessee under Jones.

He went 1-2 against Alabama as a player 

The win came in 1998, with Gillespie as a freshman on a team that won in Bryant-Denny Stadium 16-10 and later won the Orange Bowl to finish 10-2 and No. 5 in the final AP Poll.

The two losses came in the same season: 40-39 in overtime on Oct. 2, 1999, and 34-7 in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4 of the same year.

He’s an aggressive recruiter

In a question and answer session with 247 Sports before the 2020 season, Gillespie gave a reason for why North Carolina has experience d recruiting surge in the short Mack Brown tenure, and in doing so gave a window into his approach as a recruiter.

“A sports car is only as aggressive as the foot that’s on the pedal,” Gillespie said. “Mack Brown is definitely the foot that’s on the pedal that’s pushing the vehicle to go fast and be aggressive, and that’s what you want.”

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