John Lilly comes to the Panthers as tight ends coach after three seasons at North Carolina and over 30 career seasons in the college and NFL ranks. He has spent time with the Browns, Rams, University of Tennessee and University of Georgia.
John Lilly, a 30-year coaching veteran, joined the Carolina Panthers as tight ends coach in 2023 after serving the last three seasons (2020-22) in the same role at the University of North Carolina. He has also spent time with the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, University of Tennessee and University of Georgia.
In his last three seasons with the Tar Heels, Lilly's tight end group contributed to an offense that finished in the top 15 in total offense each season and set a program record in 2020.
In 2022, Lilly's tight ends caught 79 passes for 1,087 yards, leading all Atlantic Coast Conference tight ends in receiving yards and ranking third among Power 5 schools. North Carolina ranked 10th in total offense in 2021 and fifth in the nation in 2020. That 2020 squad set Tar Heel records with 537.2 yards per game and 41.7 points per game.
Lilly came to North Carolina after coaching tight ends for the Cleveland Browns in 2019. During his year in Cleveland, the tight ends produced the fourth-most touchdown receptions in the NFL and Lilly's unit was one of only two groups in the league that had four tight ends catch a touchdown pass.
Prior to his time in Cleveland, Lilly spent 2018 at the University of Tennessee as the assistant to the head coach following a one-year stint as the Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach.
Before joining the Rams, Lilly coached tight ends at the University of Georgia from 2008-15. During his eight seasons at Georgia, the Bulldogs won 74 games, including five bowl victories and two SEC East titles. Lilly was part of several record-setting seasons: 72 touchdowns in 2012, 484.14 yards per game in 2013 and 41.3 points per game in 2014. He also helped shape future NFL draft picks Orson Charles (fourth round) and Arthur Lynch (fifth round).
Lilly also served as the Bulldogs' interim offensive coordinator during their bowl games following the 2014 and 2015 seasons, calling the plays during a 37-14 win over Louisville in the 2014 Belk Bowl and in a 24-17 victory over Penn State in the 2016 Tax Slayer Bowl. Lilly also guided Georgia's punt unit, which included Ray Guy Award winner Drew Butler, who led the nation in net punting average (41.95) and was named a consensus All-American in 2009. He also worked with NFL kicker Blair Walsh.
Prior to his time at Georgia, Lilly spent 13 seasons at Florida State. He started as a videographer in 1995 before becoming a graduate assistant in 1996-97 and ultimately the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator from 1998-2007. During Lilly's tenure, the Seminoles won the 1999 National Championship.
Lilly began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, N.C., from 1991-94.
As a player, Lilly played quarterback, wide receiver and special teams at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C.
Lilly is married to the former Cheryl Brown, and they have two daughters, Allison Catherine and Abigail Christine, and one son, Caleb Jackson.
1995-97 | Florida State University | Graduate Assistant/Videographer
1998-07 | Florida State University | Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator
2008-13 | University of Georgia | Tight Ends
2014-15 | University of Georgia | Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
2016 | Los Angeles Rams | Tight Ends
2018 | University of Tennessee | Assistant to Head Coach
2019 | Cleveland Browns | Tight Ends
2020-22 | University of North Carolina | Tight Ends
2023-pres | Carolina Panthers | Tight Ends