Kitchens had tutored Bulldog tight ends in the 2004 season, before taking charge of the running backs last fall. He replaced Stan Drayton in that capacity when Drayton abruptly left to take a similar job with former boss Urban Meyer at Florida.
Kitchens had excellent timing in his one-year stint with Bulldog backs, as Jerious Norwood put together a record-setting senior season and earned All-SEC honors with 1,136 yards and six touchdowns. Norwood set the program single-game rushing mark with 257 yards against Houston, and he rushed for 204 yards and three scores in the Egg Bowl victory over Mississippi.
In 2004 Kitchens tutored then-freshman Eric Butler into a dramatic debut season of his own, as Butler caught a position-record four touchdown passes in his rookie season.
Kitchens, a 1998 Alabama alumnus, has never coached professional football. His previous stops have been at Glenville, WV, State in 1999, at LSU in 2000, and at North Texas in 2001-03 before being recruited by Croom to come to MSU. While he did spend those three seasons in Denton, Texas, his link to this job lay more with former LSU coach Nick Saban, now at the Miami Dolphins, who reportedly helped recommend him for the Dallas position.
Kitchens' good professional fortune is not so great a break for Croom, who has an opening to fill before spring camp opens on March 6. Croom was ill and not in his office Thursday, and his illness also was preventing the head coach from having a scheduled procedure to repair an old playing-days injury to a shoulder.
Last spring, when Drayton left on short notice, Croom was able to move Kitchens to running backs and promote Reed Stringer to full-time status with tight ends.
Four members of this month's football signing class--DS Aaron Feld, OL Mark Melichar, RB Arnil Stallworth, and DL Rodney Prince--were recruited by Kitchens, who had Alabama and south/southeast Mississippi as his primary scouting grounds.
Bulldog spring camp concludes April 8.