MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State head football coach Chris Klieman announced Thursday that Matthew Middleton, a native Kansan and experienced FBS assistant coach, has been hired as the Wildcats’ new wide receivers coach. The hiring is pending a successful background check.
“We are excited to have Matthew, his wife Jenna and their four children join the K-State family,” Klieman said. “He is an energetic coach who will jump right in and develop great relationships with our receivers, offensive unit and team as a whole. He has experience developing wide receivers into great football players and phenomenal young men, and his ties to the state of Kansas and the ability to bring him back home were added bonuses.”
Middleton, a 15-year coaching veteran, comes to Manhattan after spending the previous five seasons as the wide receivers coach at Kent State. A native of Kansas City, Kansas and graduate of Bonner Springs High School, Middleton played football at Ottawa University and, immediately upon graduation, coached the Braves’ wide receivers for one season.
“My family and I are extremely grateful to be a part of the amazing culture that Coach Klieman and his rooted staff have created,” Middleton said. “We are thrilled to have an opportunity to serve the players, coaches, support staff and community at Kansas State. Manhattan is a special place and is exactly what we are looking for at this time in our life. It’s great to be back home in the great state of Kansas, and we are ecstatic to officially join the Wildcat family! EMAW!”
In five seasons at Kent State, Middleton guided wide receivers to six all-conference selections, including four first-team honors. In 2022, wide receiver Dante Cephas earned his second All-MAC First Team designation, while Devontez Walker also picked up first-team honors as Kent State passed for more than 2,500 yards for the fourth time in Middleton’s five seasons on staff. In addition to the two receivers, Middleton also coached Ja’Shawun Poke to All-MAC Second Team honors as a kick returner.
Under Middleton, Cephas finished the 2022 season ranked second in the MAC by averaging 82.7 yards per game. Cephas’ best came was a school record 246-yard performance against Ohio, which was just one yard shy of the top receiving mark in the nation in 2022. In his first season as a starter, Walker set the program record with 11 touchdown catches to rank seventh in the country, and his 921 receiving yards ranked second in the conference and stood as the third-most in program history. He also finished amongst MAC leaders in receptions (58) and yards per catch (15.9).
In 2021, the Golden Flashes set a school record for passing offense (3,435 yards) and ranked fourth in the nation in total offense (493.7 yards per game). Cephas was named to the All-MAC First Team after totaling 1,240 yards to rank 16th in the nation to go along with nine touchdowns. Kent State won the MAC East Division, played in the MAC Championship and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
In the shortened 2020 campaign, Middleton coached junior wide receiver Isaiah McKoy to All-MAC First Team honors after finishing third in the conference in yards per catch (18.1) and yards per game (113.0). McKoy topped 100 yards in three of four games and had at least one touchdown in all four games.
In 2019, the Golden Flashes averaged 405.6 yards per game (third in program history) and logged 2,849 passing yards (second in program history) while totaling 42 touchdowns (fifth). Kent State eclipsed 50 points in the program’s first-ever bowl win, a 51-41 victory over Utah State in the Frisco Bowl. Middleton saw two of his pupils earn All-MAC honors in McKoy and Mike Carrigan. McKoy led the Flashes with 56 receptions, 872 yards and eight touchdowns, cracking the top-10 in program history in all three categories and leading the MAC in yards per game and touchdowns. Carrigan caught 44 passes for 570 yards and five touchdowns.
In his first year in Kent in 2018, Middleton’s unit saw an immediate jump in production from the previous season as Antwan Dixon hauled in 52 receptions – the ninth most in a single season in program history – and Carrigan produced a team-leading 597 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Middleton went to Kent State after serving as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at South Dakota the previous three seasons. In 2017, the Coyotes advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs thanks to an average of 333.2 passing yards per game to rank sixth in the FCS.
After his lone season at Ottawa in 2008, Middleton coached the wide receivers and returners for two seasons at Omaha where he worked alongside current K-State offensive line coach Conor Riley. He then coached the same two positions at Division II Chadron State in 2011 and served as a graduate assistant at Kansas in 2012 before moving on to South Dakota.
Working concurrently with his collegiate jobs, Middleton also earned three Bill Walsh Minority Internships with NFL teams during the early part of training camp, working with the Chicago Bears (July 2015), Minnesota Vikings (July 2016) and Detroit Lions (July 2020).
Middleton picked up four all-conference honors – including two in 2006 as a receiver and a returner – at Ottawa as he left the program as the school’s all-time leader with 159 career receptions. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management from Ottawa in 2008 and went on to obtain a master’s degree in recreation administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2012.
Middleton and his wife, Jenna, have two sons, Evan and Elijah, and two daughters, Bria and Cora.
THE MATTHEW MIDDLETON FILE
Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas
College: Ottawa – Bachelor’s in Sports Management (2008); Nebraska-Omaha – Master’s in Recreation Administration (2012)
Family: Wife: Jenna; Children: Evan, Elijah, Bria, Cora
Playing Career: Ottawa (Wide Receiver), 2004-07
COACHING CAREER TIMELINE
2008, Ottawa (wide receivers)
2009-10, Omaha (wide receivers/returners)
2011, Chadron State (wide receivers/returners)
2012, Kansas (graduate assistant)
2013-17, South Dakota (wide receivers/recruiting coordinator)
2018-22, Kent State (wide receivers)
2023, Kansas State (wide receivers)