Former Mountaineer Steve Wilks named Panthers interim head coach

Former+Mountaineer+Steve+Wilks+played+defensive+back+at+App+State+from+1987-91.+

Courtesy of App State Athletics

Former Mountaineer Steve Wilks played defensive back at App State from 1987-91.

Chance Chamberlain

The Carolina Panthers announced Monday that App State alum Steve Wilks will serve as interim head coach following the team’s week five loss to the San Francisco 49ers. 

The change comes after the firing of Matt Rhule, who held the Panther’s head coaching job for the past three years with a record of 11-27.

“We’re at the point in our season where it’s about ‘Keep Pounding,’” said Steve Wilks at Tuesday’s press conference. “If we’re going to turn it around, that’s the mindset we need to have.”

Wilks is no stranger to the Carolinas, being a Charlotte native and playing for App State from 1987-91, then coaching for the Mountaineers in 2001.

“Steve loves this area, loves Charlotte,” said David Tepper, owner of the Panthers, at Monday’s press conference. “If you’re somebody who loves this area and loves Charlotte, of course, you’re going to be a little bit excited.”

After coaching for App State, Wilks worked his way into the NFL and eventually joined the Panthers coaching staff in 2012. Wilks remained a part of the staff until 2018, when he became head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. 

Wilks continued to move around the NFL before returning to Carolina for the 2022 season as Rhule’s defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach. 

“It’s good to have somebody internally familiar with the team and the people in the building,” Tepper said. 

With the Panthers holding a 1-4 record, there’s the hope of Wilks being the answer to help turn around the 2022 season woes for Carolina. 

“We have the talent in the locker room,” Wilks said. “I feel confident in the men that we have, and we’re going to turn the corner.”

With the change at head coach, Tepper believes that Wilks will guide the team in the right direction to finish the season on a high note.

“Steve is a leader of men. He has experience as a head coach, and I thought he was the best candidate in the building for that role,” Tepper said.