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Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake dies at age 62

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Darryl Drake, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers who spent more than 30 years molding players at the position at the college and professional level, has died. He was 62.

The team said Drake, who joined the coaching staff in 2018, died early Sunday morning.

“Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said. “He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith and the game of football.”

Drake, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, played collegiately at Western Kentucky. He spent one season in the Canadian Football League and participated in a pair of NFL training camps before returning to Western Kentucky to pursue a master’s degree. He went into coaching as a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky in 1983, the beginning of a career that included stops in the college ranks at Georgia, Baylor and Texas.

“He had a tremendous impact on those who he coached and those who were fortunate to call him a teammate,” WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said. “WKU Football was better because of our association with him.

Drake reached the NFL as a receivers coach in 2004 with the Chicago Bears. He moved on to the same position with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 before joining Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s staff in 2018. Drake’s pupils through the years include Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald, longtime NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Antonio Brown, who played for Drake in 2018 before being traded to Oakland last spring.

“I’m heartbroken for anyone who had the privilege to know Darryl,” Fitzgerald tweeted. “As a man, a coach, a husband, and a father, he was as good as they come.”