Clay Helton
Clay Helton

Offensive Coordinator


alma mater:
Houston, 1994

Assistant head coach Clay Helton is entering his 10th season with the Tiger coaching staff. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in January 2007 and took over the quarterbacks in his new role.

In the press conference to announce Helton as the Tigers' new offensive coordinator, West said that he expected the offense to become the most exciting and productive offense in the country. He also touted Helton for his tireless work ethic and dedication.

Over the last two seasons, Helton has proven himself and the Tigers have responded with some of the best offensive numbers in school history. Memphis' 5,767 yards in 2007 ranks second all-time, while the 2008 total of 5,424 yards ranks fifth. The 353 points the Tigers scored last season is good for sixth in school history, while the 2007 Tigers ranked fourth with 380 points.

The 2008 Tigers finished the season ranked 22nd nationally in rushing offense and 26th in total offense, despite Helton and his staff having to alter the scheme because of injuries to three quarterbacks. In fact, heading into the East Carolina game that Memphis lost two quarterbacks in the first quarter, the Tigers ranked 14th nationally in passing offense and 13th in total offense. With the game shifting to a more run-oriented scheme, Memphis ended the year in the top half of the nation in passing offense.

Helton's 2007 Tiger offense closed out the season ranked 23rd nationally in total offense and 13th nationally in passing offense. The Tigers had only finished the season in the top 25 once in passing offense since 1999 as the 2004 squad piloted by Danny Wimprine was No. 25. Memphis' 2007 ranking in total offense was a vast improvement over the previous season in which the Tigers ranked 64th, and marked the third time since 1999 that the U of M has been in the top 25 in that category.

Under Helton's guidance, quarterback Martin Hankins finished his two-year career ranked second in most career passing categories, and set single-season records during the 2007 campaign in completions (261), yards (3,220) and touchdowns (25). Hankins set a school record with 416 yards against East Carolina and passed for over 300 yards in eight career games.

Prior to his promotion to offensive coordinator, Helton spent four seasons (2003-06) with the Tiger receivers. Helton certainly had his challenges along the way, and the 2005 and 2006 seasons were no exception. Both campaigns saw various injuries and personnel changes that left Helton with a younger, inexperienced group to work with.

Despite the influx, Helton guided two Tiger receivers to All-C-USA Freshman honors as Maurice Jones received the honor in 2005 and Duke Calhoun was honored in 2006. In 2006, Tiger receivers accounted for 21 of Memphis' 33 touchdowns and averaged 225 yards per game. Ryan Scott wrapped up his career ranked fourth all-time in receptions with 114 and seventh in receiving yards with 1,527.

A year after taking over the receivers, Helton's 2004 Tiger wideouts accounted for 25 touchdowns and 3,086 yards receiving, and were part of an offensive unit that ranked second in C-USA in total offense. The Tiger offense also ranked second in the league in scoring and ninth nationally in total offense. In 2003, Helton inherited a depleted receiving corps and coached the group to one of its better seasons in years. Known for his teaching abilities, Helton's receivers responded by setting school marks for receptions (260) and yardage (3,419) in 2003.

Helton's career at Memphis began in 2000 as the running backs coach. In his first three seasons, he played a huge role in the development of several young Tiger running backs, including Jeff "Sugar" Sanders, Dante Brown and eventual Heisman Trophy candidate DeAngelo Williams.

Sanders was a regular in the Tiger lineup in 2000, and Brown rushed for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history (902 yards) during 2001 and set a Memphis record for rushing touchdowns in a game with four against Helton's alma mater, Houston. In 2002, Helton helped Williams lead the nation in average yards per carry for four weeks of that season. Williams was second in the nation in average yards per carry after 11 weeks and finished the season tied for fifth in the country with 6.6 yards per carry. He later went on to set nearly every U of M rushing, scoring and all-purpose yard record and was selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft.

Helton coached at Houston from 1997-99 under his father, Kim Helton, before arriving on the U of M campus. While at UH, he directed the Cougar running backs for three seasons, and was responsible in 1997 for the development of All-C-USA performer Ketric Sanford. Sanford combined with Vaughn Innis to rush for over 1,200 yards, and in 1998, placed second among all C-USA backs in all-purpose yards with 1,530.

A native of Sugarland, Texas, Helton played quarterback for Houston in 1993 and 1994, after transferring from Auburn University. While playing for the Auburn Tigers in 1991, Helton received SEC All-Academic honors. He was voted one of Houston's team captains in 1994.

Following graduation from Houston, Helton entered the coaching profession as a member of Fred Goldsmith's staff at Duke University. He worked as a graduate assistant for Duke in 1995 and was hired as the Blue Devils' running backs coach in 1996. While in Durham, N.C., Helton helped to develop a running game that featured Laymarr Marshall, who tallied 13 touchdowns for the second-highest single-season total in school history.

Helton, 37, earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics and interdisciplinary science from Houston in 1994. He and his wife, Angela, have three children: sons, Reid and Turner, and daughter, Aubrey. Helton's father, Kim, and his brother, Tyson, both are on the coaching staff at UAB.

The Helton File


• June 24, 1972

• Gainesville, Fla.

Alma Mater

• University of Houston, 1994

• Bachelor's degree in mathematics/interdisciplinary science

Collegiate Playing Experience

1993-94: Houston (Quarterback)

1991-92: Auburn (Quarterback)


• Wife - Angela

• Children - Reid, Aubrey & Turner

Coaching Experience

2000-Present: University of Memphis

1997-99: University of Houston

1995-96: Duke University

Recruiting Area

• California JCs, Florida sun coast

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