- title Assistant Coach - Running Backs/Co-Special Teams
John Settle was named Kentucky’s new running backs coach/co-special teams coordinator in March of 2021.
Settle comes to the Bluegrass with 26 years of coaching experience, including six in the National Football League, 19 bowl appearances and a long list of successful running backs. Eleven years of his coaching career were spent at Wisconsin, the most recent as the running backs coach from 2015-2021. He also coached the Badger running backs from 2006-10.
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor tops that long list of successful running backs. The two-time unanimous first-team All-American and two-time Doak Walker Award winner, Taylor finished in the top 10 of Heisman Trophy voting three times and put together one of the best careers by a running back in college football history.
In just three seasons, Taylor rushed for a staggering 6,174 yards — the highest three-year total by any player, by a margin of more than 500 yards — to rank sixth on the FBS all-time rushing list. He recorded his second consecutive 2,000-yard season as a junior in 2019 while leading the nation in scoring with 26 touchdowns. That came after rushing for 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018, when he led the country in rushing at 168.8 yards per game — 22 yards ahead of second place on that list.
Taylor’s tremendous rookie season in 2017 saw him break Adrian Peterson’s FBS freshman rushing record by racking up 1,977 yards and 13 TDs.
Taylor was a second-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 NFL Draft. Three other running backs currently playing in the NFL who were coached by Settle are Corey Clement, Dare Ogunbowale and James White.
Clement bounced back from an injury-riddled junior season to rush for 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior in 2016 on his way to first-team All-Big Ten honors. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and led the Super Bowl champions in rushing touchdowns while getting the second-most carries of any back. Clement tallied 100 receiving yards and scored a key touchdown in the Eagles’ win over New England in Super Bowl LII.
Ogunbowale, a former walk-on and converted defensive back, developed into a rushing, receiving and blocking threat under Settle’s direction. He signed a free agent deal with the Houston Texans and ended his rookie season on Washington’s active roster before moving on to Tampa Bay, where he was named a team captain in 2019. He currently plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
White has won three Super Bowl titles in seven seasons in New England. He played a heroic role in the Patriots’ epic comeback in Super Bowl LI, setting Super Bowl records for receptions (14) and points scored (20), including the game-winning touchdown run in overtime.
Settle has also coached four fullbacks who have gone on to play in the NFL. Chris Pressley played five seasons in Cincinnati and Tampa Bay, Bradie Ewing was taken in the fifth round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2012, Derek Watt was drafted by the Chargers in 2016 and currently plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Alec Ingold is currently a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Settle got his coaching start at his alma mater, Appalachian State, in 1994 where he spent one season before serving as an offensive assistant in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns (1995) and the Baltimore Ravens (1996-97).
Settle returned to the collegiate ranks, spending eight seasons (1998-2005) as the running backs coach at Fresno State, where he helped the Bulldogs advance to seven bowl games, while tutoring six 1,000-yard rushers.
Following Fresno State, he began his first stint at Wisconsin, coaching the running backs from 2006-10 and helping the Badgers advance to five straight bowl games, including a Rose Bowl appearance.
In 2006, Settle tutored the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in P.J. Hill, who led the Big Ten and ranked fifth in the country with 1,569 rushing yards. Hill would go on to top the 1,000-yard mark in three different seasons.
In 2008, behind the tandem of Hill and freshman John Clay (2,045 yards between them), Wisconsin led the Big Ten in rushing. 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 FBS with 1,517 yards. The Badgers again led the conference in rushing offense.
In 2010, 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. White, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, led the Badgers with 1,052 yards, Clay chipped in with 1,012 yards and sophomore 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.
The next three seasons he returned to the NFL, coaching two seasons with the Carolina Panthers (2011-12) and one (2013) with the Cleveland Browns. Carolina made history in 2011, becoming the first team to feature three 700-yard rushers, and posting a franchise-record 5.4 yards per carry.
Settle coached one season at Pittsburgh in 2014 before going back to Wisconsin for a second stint. In his lone season at Pitt, he helped running back James Connor, currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers, earn 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Settle was a four-year letterwinner (1983-86) at Appalachian State, where he finished as the school’s career rushing leader with 4,409 yards (then third-most in FCS history) and 43 touchdowns. A two-time All-American, he was the Southern Conference Player of the Year as a senior after rushing for 1,661 yards and 20 TDs. His No. 23 was retired by his alma mater and he was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 1994.
Settle signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent and played six seasons in the NFL, including four with Atlanta (1987-90) and two with Washington. A Pro Bowl selection in 1988, he accumulated 1,594 yards of total offense (1,024 rushing and 570 receiving) and became the first undrafted free agent in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He also played for Washington’s Super Bowl-winning team in 1991.
The Reidsville, North Carolina native graduated from Appalachian State in 1989 with a degree in criminal justice. He and his wife, Karen, have three children: Jonathan, Leighton and Devynn.
John Settle’s Coaching Career
|Year||Position||School/NFL Team||Bowl Games/Playoffs|
|2015-21||Running Backs||Wisconsin||Holiday Bowl (2015), Cotton Bowl (2016), Orange Bowl (2017), Pinstripe Bowl (2018), Rose Bowl (2019), Duke’s Mayo Bowl (2020)|
|2014||Running Backs||Pittsburgh||Armed Forces Bowl|
|2013||Running Backs||Cleveland Browns|
|2011-12||Running Backs||Carolina Panthers|
|2006-10||Running Backs||Wisconsin||Capital One Bowl (2006), Outback Bowl (2007) Champs Sports Bowl (2008), Champs Sports Bowl (2009), Rose Bowl (2010).|
|1998-2005||Running Backs||Fresno State||Las Vegas Bowl (1999), Silicon Valley Football Classic (2000), Silicon Valley Football Classic (2001), Silicon Valley Football Classic (2002), Silicon Valley Football Classic (2003), MPC Computers Bowl (2004), Liberty Bowl (2005)|
|1996-97||Offensive Assistant||Baltimore Ravens|
|1995||Offensive Assistant||Cleveland Browns|
|1994||Running Backs||Appalachian State|