Wisconsin confirmed the hiring of John Settle as running backs coach on Tuesday, officially reuniting Settle with head coach Paul Chryst.
Settle, who coached at UW from 2006-10 while Chryst was offensive coordinator, was the first name that emerged as a likely replacement for Thomas Brown, who left Wisconsin last month to return to Georgia, his alma mater.
Having proven himself coaching the likes of P.J. Hill, John Clay, James White and Montee Ball, Settle returns with an impressive resume that also includes stints in the NFL and a brief stay at Pitt under Chryst. Continuing the recruiting success Brown had might be his greatest task in his second tour in Madison.
In 2015, Settle will inherit Corey Clement as a junior, along with promising redshirt freshmen Taiwan Deal and Caleb Kinlaw, plus junior Dare Ogunbowale. Wisconsin also has two promising freshmen coming in: four-star Dallas (South Oak Cliff), Texas., RB Jordan Stevenson and Birmingham (Hoover), Ala., RB Bradrick Shaw.
Below is the official release from Wisconsin announcing Settle's hire.
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head football coach Paul Chryst announced Tuesday that John Settle has been hired to coach the Badgers' running backs. Settle, who spent last season coaching running backs at Pitt under Chryst, previously spent five seasons as the running backs coach at UW when Chryst served as offensive coordinator.
While at Wisconsin (2006-10), Settle coached four of the top 10 rushers in school history. In his first season, he tutored Big Ten Freshman of the Year P.J. Hill, who led the Big Ten and ranked fifth in the country with 1,569 rushing yards. Hill would go on to become just the third running back in school history to go over 1,000 yards in three different seasons, joining Ron Dayne and Billy Marek.
In 2008, behind the tandem of Hill and freshman John Clay (2,045 yards between them), Wisconsin led the Big Ten in rushing offense. When Clay became the featured back in 2009, he flourished, winning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors, leading the Big Ten and ranking eighth in the country with 1,517 yards. The Badgers again led the conference in rushing offense.
Despite all that success, 2010 was UW's most prolific season under Settle. Wisconsin nearly became the first team in FBS history to have three different running backs rush for at least 1,000 yards in the same season. Big Ten Freshman of the Year James White led the Badgers with 1,052 yards, Clay chipped in with 1,012 yards and a sophomore named Montee Ball fell just four yards shy of 1,000, running for 996 yards. UW averaged 245.7 rushing yards per game on its way to a Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Ball would go on to rush for 5,140 yards as a Badger (second-best in school history), win the Doak Walker Award and be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. White's 4,015 yards rank fifth in school history while Hill is sixth with 3,942 and Clay is 10th at 3,413.
In addition to those four tailbacks, each of whom played in the NFL, Settle coached two fullbacks who have gone on to play on Sundays. Chris Pressley played five seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers while Bradie Ewing was taken in the fifth round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2012 and is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After leaving UW, Settle coached for three seasons in the NFL, two with the Carolina Panthers (2011-12) and one with the Cleveland Browns (2013). Carolina made NFL history in 2011, becoming the first team to feature three 700-yard rushers. DeAngelo Williams (836), Jonathan Stewart (761) and Cam Newton (706) each reached the mark, helping the Panthers average a franchise-record 5.4 yards per carry.
In his one season at Pitt, Settle helped running back James Connor earn ACC Player of the Year honors as he led the league and ranked sixth in the country, averaging 135.8 yards per game on the ground. His 26 rushing TDs were good for third-best in the country and bested both Tony Dorsett's school record and the all-time ACC mark.
Prior to his first stint at Wisconsin, Settle coached running backs at Fresno State (1998-2005), overseeing the development of six different backs who achieved 1,000-yard seasons. He broke into the coaching ranks at his alma mater, Appalachian State, coaching the Mountaineer running backs in 1994. He also served as an offensive assistant and special teams quality control coach with the Browns (1995) and Baltimore Ravens (1996-97).
As a collegian at Appalachian State, Settle rushed for a school-record 4,409 yards and 43 touchdowns from 1983-86. His senior year, he compiled 1,661 rushing yards with 20 TDs and was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year. Appalachian State retired his No. 23 jersey in 1994.
Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons in 1987, Settle played six NFL seasons (1987-90 with Atlanta and 1991-92 with the Washington Redskins). He was named to the 1988 Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,024 yards, becoming the first undrafted player since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to reach that rushing milestone. Settle was also a member of the Redskins' Super Bowl XXVI championship team.
Settle is a 1989 graduate of Appalachian State. He and his wife Karen have three children, daughter Devynn and sons Jonathan and Leighton.
What They're Saying About Coach Settle
Montee Ball (2009-12)
"Coach Settle was a big part of why I chose to go to Wisconsin. He came to my house and my family loved him. He really spoke highly of the education available at Wisconsin and the success of the athletic program and it was something he believed in. One thing I really enjoyed about him was how easy he was to talk to both on and off the field. He's a great fit for the university and I'm really excited to see that he's coming back."
John Clay (2008-10)
"What I remember most about Coach Settle is that he treated us all like men. He didn't babysit us but he held us accountable for making the right choices on and off the field. He was almost like a father figure to us that way. When he was recruiting me, I remember him coming to my high school, watching my track meets and he had a great charisma that would just make everyone around him smile. When he was looking at some other jobs, I remember telling him that if he left, I was going to leave too because I didn't want to be coached by anyone else. That was how much I believed in him as a coach."
Bradie Ewing (2008-11)
"Coach Settle played a key role in my choice to attend the University of Wisconsin. He has always demonstrated that he is a great man of character and faith, along with what he can do as a football coach with his teaching ability and proven development of his players. Through my years with Coach Settle, he grew into someone I looked up to on and off the field for advice and guidance. He is a great fit for Wisconsin and it will be good to see him back on the Badgers' sideline again!"
James White (2010-13)
"Coach Settle was definitely a big reason why I chose Wisconsin. When he was in my house, he felt like a part of the family. He was very personable and down to earth. I had seen what he had done with guys like P.J. Hill, John Clay and Montee and knew he was a great coach. He's very demanding on the field and expects the most out of his players. In my opinion, he's the best fit for the job."