FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Former Arizona Cardinals’ offensive coordinator and Minnesota Vikings’ quarterbacks coach Alex Wood has been named as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at the University of Arkansas it was announced by UA head football coach Houston Nutt on Wednesday. The addition of Wood as quarterbacks coach completes Arkansas’ offensive staff with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn coaching wide receivers, running game coordinator Mike Markuson handling the offensive line and James Shibest coaching tight ends.
Wood has more than 26 years of coaching experience in the college and National Football League (NFL) ranks including four years as the head coach of James Madison University. During his coaching career, Wood has tutored NFL quarterbacks Daunte Culpepper, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George and Bubby Brister as well as NFL wide receivers Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick.
“We are excited and extremely fortunate to add Alex Wood to our staff,” Nutt said. “He brings a level of experience in both the college and pro game that few other coaches can offer. He is a gifted teacher and cares passionately about his players. Among his many success stories, he developed Daunte Culpepper into one of the NFL’s most prolific quarterbacks. As a former offensive and defensive coordinator, he knows every aspect of the game and is a valuable addition to our staff.”
A former running back and special teams player at the University of Iowa (1975-77), Wood he graduated from Iowa in 1979 with a degree in secondary education and social studies. He also began his coaching career as a student assistant at his alma mater in 1978.
His first full-time coaching position came at Kent State University where he served as the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach from 1979-80. The following two seasons (1981-82), Wood was the defensive back coach at Southern Illinois University. From 1982-85, Wood coached defensive backs and was the defensive coordinator at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.
Wood spent two seasons (1985-86) tutoring wide receivers and tight ends at the University of Wyoming. During his tenure, the Cowboys made an Australia Bowl (1985) appearance. He served two years as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Washington State University. The Cougars made an appearance in the Aloha Bowl following the 1988 season.
From 1989-93, Wood was part of one of the most successful college football programs in the nation. Wood served as the running backs coach under Dennis Erickson for the Miami Hurricanes. During Wood’s tenure, the Hurricanes won two national championships (1989 and 1991) including a perfect 12-0 season in 1991. Miami played in four New Year’s Day bowl games in that span. Wood was hired as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wake Forest in 1993. He coached for two seasons in Winston-Salem, N.C. before landing his first head coaching opportunity.
In 1995, Wood was named as the head football coach at James Madison University. Wood led the Dukes to an 8-4 record in his first season including a trip to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. In his four-year tenure at JMU, Wood compiled a record of 23-22. Seven of Wood’s players at JMU went on to play in the NFL and the Dukes achieved a 75 percent graduation rate during his tenure.
Wood moved into the pro ranks in 1999 when he was hired by Dennis Green as the quarterbacks’ coach of the Minnesota Vikings. He spent four seasons with the Vikings’ organization. In his first year with the team, the Vikings selected Culpepper in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. Although a first-round draft pick, Culpepper was the fourth quarterback taken in the draft. By Culpepper’s second season, the young star not only took over the starting quarterback job but earned a start for the National Football Conference (NFC) in the Pro Bowl. He tied for the NFL lead with 33 passing touchdowns and ranked second in the NFC with 3,937 yards. Culpepper also set team records for rushing yards (470) and rushing touchdowns (7) by a quarterback. Culpepper led the Vikings to the NFC Central championship and a spot in the conference championship game.
In 2001, Culpepper was lost to a season-ending injury but still managed to finish third in the NFC in completion percentage (64.2). The Culpepper-Wood combination was back at it again in 2002. Culpepper spearheaded the NFL’s second-ranked offensive unit and in the process the Vikings’ quarterback finished second in the NFC in passing yardage (3,853) for the second time in Wood’s tenure.
Wood was named wide receivers coach by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003. In his one year in Cincinnati, Wood coached two players in the top 10 of receiving yards in the AFC (Johnson and Warrick). Johnson led the AFC with 1,355 yards on 90 receptions. He also had 10 touchdown receptions.
In 2004, Wood rejoined Green on the staff of the Arizona Cardinals. Wood served one season as the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals overseeing the offensive staff and handling play-calling responsibilities.
Wood, 50, is a native of Masillon, Ohio, and was a standout football player and wrestler at Washington High School. He and his wife Rosa, have three children Jerrel (32), Alex (32) and Natalie (19). Alex recently completed his second season as the defensive secondary coach at East Stroudsburg University in Pa.