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The Arizona Wildcats have named BYU’s AJ Steward as their new running backs coach.

Steward spent the past two seasons coaching running backs at BYU. Before that, he spent four years as the running backs coach at Rice.

"We couldn't be happier to be welcoming AJ to the Arizona football family," UA coach Kevin Sumlin said in a news release. "AJ brings a work ethic and experience that will impact the development of our student-athletes in a very positive way. His passion for the game, passion for making a difference and his recruiting background make him a great fit for our staff."

Steward replaces DeMarco Murray, who left the UA last month to coach at Oklahoma, his alma mater. Murray, 32, had been Arizona’s youngest full-time assistant coach. Steward, 29, now holds that title.

Steward is from St. Louis and played at Kansas (2007-11). He began his college career as a quarterback before switching to wide receiver and eventually tight end.

Steward began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Rice. The 2017 Owls averaged 187.0 rushing yards per game, second in Conference USA and 38th nationally.

BYU, known for its physical style of play, averaged more than 150 yards rushing each of the past two seasons under Steward’s stewardship. The Cougars defeated the Wildcats in Sumlin's first game as UA coach in 2018.

"My wife, Virginia, and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Tucson and make the University of Arizona our home," Steward said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to be able to continue my coaching career under someone like Coach Sumlin, and I can't wait to get to work with our young men!"

Steward joins the UA staff about two weeks out from the start of spring football. The first practice is slated for March 2.

Steward inherits one of the deepest position groups on the team. Arizona lost top rusher J.J. Taylor but returns veterans Gary Brightwell, Nathan Tillford, Bam Smith and Michael Wiley. The Wildcats also added two running backs, Frank Brown Jr. and Jalen John, in their 2020 recruiting class.

Steward will be Arizona’s fourth running backs coach in as many seasons, following Murray, Clarence McKinney and Calvin Magee.

Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or mlev@tucson.com. On Twitter @michaeljlev 

This article originally ran on tucson.com.

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