Just as with several Northwestern football players, another member of the Wildcats’ coaching staff is joining the professional ranks.
Just five days after Wildcats cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith was hired by the Arizona Cardinals, NU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Lou Ayeni is being picked by Sean Payton and the Denver Broncos for the same position, according to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.
Sources: The Denver Broncos are hiring #Northwestern running backs coach Lou Ayeni for the same role. Ayeni has shined coaching RBs for Northwestern, Iowa State and Toledo. Also interviewed for Kansas' head-coaching job. Has had many NFL opportunities. Strong hire for Sean Payton— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) February 27, 2023
Ayeni was hired by Northwestern in 2018 after coaching at Iowa State from 2014-17, serving as the running backs coach, recruiting game coordinator and assistant head coach. Before his stop in Ames, Iowa, Ayeni coached at Toledo from 2010-13.
Ayeni’s ties ran deep with the purple and white. As a player, Ayeni played with the ‘Cats from 2000-03, winning a Big Ten title in 2000. After college, Ayeni saw time with the Colts from 2004-05 as a safety before switching to linebacker for the Rams in 2006-07. Subsequent to that, Ayeni returned to Evanston as a graduate assistant from 2008-09.
With the Wildcats, Ayeni helped produce multiple running back talents, from Evan Hull to Isaiah Bowser to Cam Porter. The coach was named to Rittenberg’s list of 45 minority coaches under 45 to watch in July.
With Smith and Ayeni moving to the NFL, Pat Fitzgerald must close two enormous coaching gaps this spring and summer before Northwestern opens its season on Sept. 2.