Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake has passed away at age 62, the team announced on Sunday.
Drake, who was in preparations for his second season with the team, had been participating in the team’s training camp at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pa.
“We are at a loss for words following Darryl Drake’s passing this morning,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a press release. “Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career. He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith and the game of football.
“Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Sheila, his three daughters, his grandchildren and entire family during this difficult time.”
The team canceled its scheduled practice session for Sunday and closed the campus to visitors in response to Drake’s death, the circumstances of which have not been announced.
“Darryl was a close friend and had a tremendous impact on my coaching career,” head coach Mike Tomlin said in a press release. “He was an amazing husband, father and grandfather, and it is difficult to put into words the grief our entire team is going through right now.
“Darryl loved the game of football and every player he ever coached. We will use our faith to guide us and help his family throughout the difficult time.”
Drake joined the Steelers before the 2018 season, and in his first year with the team, saw two of his charges — Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster — selected to the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl after 1,000-yard seasons.
He came to Pittsburgh after stints in the NFL as a wide receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals (2013-17) and Chicago Bears (2004-12). In those stops, he coached notable NFL wide receivers such as Larry Fitzgerald and Alshon Jeffery. He coached with Chicago in Super Bowl XLI.
Before that, Drake was associate head coach (2003) and wide receivers coach (1998-02) at Texas. He spent 1997 as Baylor’s offensive coordinator and was Georgia’s wide receivers coach from 1992-96. Drake got his coaching start at his alma mater, Western Kentucky, where he was a graduate assistant, wide receivers coach, defensive backs coach and quarterbacks coach from 1983-90.
Drake played professionally for the Washington Redskins, Ottawa Rough Riders and Cincinnati Bengals after graduating from WKU in 1978.