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Promotion To Assistant Head Coach And Strength & Conditioning Records

Coach Coen announced today some coaching changes that to me seemed very significant for the upcoming season.

First was the promotion of defensive line coach Donnie Roberts to assistant head coach, a move that to me seems like a fantastic move. Originally part of the Lehigh coaching "dream team" in the 1990s, his second stint with Lehigh has featured developing a defensive line that seems to be perennially loaded with all-American talent like NT Eric Rakus, DT Royce Morgan, DE Kyle Adams, and this year's all-American candidate in senior DL Brian Jackson. (Not to mention former NFL veteran DE Rich Owens and another one of Lehigh's best in DE Nick Martucci, who were under his tutalage in the early 1990s.) Roberts couldn't be a better choice for assistant head coach and I'm looking forward to see what his impact will be on the entire team defense going forward.

Other staff additions would not be complete with mentioning the two coaches which are off the staff: last year's running backs coach Mike Kapusta (now gone into private business) and last year's linebackers coach Kenny Lockard (who joined the staff at Cheney University as defensive coordinator). However, the two folks that coach Coen got to join the staff are pretty exciting additions.

Linebackers coach Matt Sanders comes to South Mountain from perennial Big East power Louisville where he was a student-assistant after an injury brought his playing career to an end in 2007. The thought of Sanders bringing his expertise from Louisville to Lehigh to work with senior LB Tim Diamond, junior LB Matt Cohen and junior LB Heath Brickner could make our defense the most fearsome in the Patriot League (I hope). If he can do that, I'll promise to not remind him how his last trip to the area went (hint: it involves the town of Piscataway, NJ).

The other addition comes from the staff of Franklin & Marshall College and new running backs coach Scott Brisson. From the press release:

“Scott came very highly recommended from the staff at Franklin and Marshall,” said Coen. “Scott worked very closely with RJ Ryan who is a former player for us and also coached at Lehigh. Scott has experience in our offensive system and also did a very nice job recruiting for F&M last year. I am confident that he will do a great job coaching our running backs.”

Again, I'm optimistic how he will be able to work with senior RB Matt McGowan and sophomore RB Jaren Walker to improve the rushing game from last year - and keep the unit away from the injury bug that bedeviled us in 2006. I think his fresh perspective could be exactly what the unit needs.

Speaking of injuries, not a lot has been mentioned about the revamping of the strength & conditioning program which was quietly added to the official Lehigh website recently. Not only are there two full-time employees on strength and conditioning, the new website talks about the top strength & conditioning records from 2004 to the present - which includes some starters for the fall.

Bench press features something interesting: beating out senior OL Kevin Bayani (420 lbs) and sophomore OL William Rackley (415 lbs) is... junior FB Anthony Fossati (425 lbs). So a ballcarrier is stonger than the linemen, eh? Bet that's the subject of some discussions on the Lehigh "O" line, and it makes you wonder if we could see Fossati perhaps line up a little bit at TE to use some of that strength on our line.

Also with two strength and conditioning records are senior OL Chris Tiefenthal (Squat, 585 lbs) and senior WR Nick Johnson (4.42 40-yard dash time).

These records might point some tantalizing clues about the 2008 season - not only the thought of Fossati appearing as a TE, but Rackley's strength appears to potentially make him well positioned to perhaps start on the "O" line this year. As for Johnson, could be be our Dexter Jackson, the speedster that causes opponents fits?

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