Atlanta Falcons RB coach Desmond Kitchings leaves to be Virginia Cavaliers offensive coordinator

Atlanta Falcons running backs coach Desmond Kitchings has been hired as the offensive coordinator at Virginia and will begin immediately, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said Monday.

Kitchings had first been reported as a candidate last month by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, as the 43-year-old makes a return to the college level after one year coaching in the NFL.

"He's a smart coach, communicates well, understands how to provide value every week in terms of strategically coming up with ideas and getting his guys ready to go," Smith said. "He's a good, smart coach. He'll be missed around here but it's a heck of an opportunity for him."

Kitchings, who played college football as a receiver and returner at Furman, spent four seasons in the NFL as a practice squad and training camp player but never appeared in an NFL game. Then he went into coaching, starting at Furman before heading to Vanderbilt, Air Force, NC State and South Carolina -- primarily working with running backs.

He was co-offensive coordinator twice in his career -- 2010 at Vanderbilt and 2019 at NC State.

The Falcons, who will finish their season Sunday against New Orleans, will handle Kitchings' responsibilities by committee this week before Smith finds a permanent replacement in the offseason.