Minority Coaching Candidates Who Deserve A Closer Look In The Next NFL Hiring Cycle

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Reggie Barlow, Head Coach, Virginia State University

After an eight-year NFL career in which he won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, Barlow returned to his alma mater, Alabama State, as the team’s quarterbacks coach, before moving on to eventually assume the duties of head coach in the third year. The big chair at Alabama State, Barlow has recorded winning records in his last five. As the head coach of the State of Virginia since 2016, he has recorded three winning seasons. This includes the 2017 campaign, when the 10-1 Trojans won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship and Barlow was named CIAA Coach of the Year.

Mike Caldwell, inside linebackers coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Caldwell, who spent 11 years as an NFL linebacker, is currently in his 14th season as an NFL assistant coach. Over his entire NFL career, he played and worked under a series of great coaches, including Bill Belichick, Nick Saban, Andy Reid and Bruce Arians. This guy has paid his dues, cutting his teeth under some of the best minds in the game.

As a coach at Murray State in the early 1990s, I actually faced Caldwell during his playing days at Middle Tennessee State. I joined the Browns recruiting department as a professional staff assistant in 1992, and a year later we drafted Caldwell in the third round. In my three seasons with Caldwell in Cleveland, I always thought he was smart and thoughtful as a player; these traits have served him well as a coach.

Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Aden Durde

Durde, originally from England, began to make his way to the NFL as a player in the World American Football League (later renamed NFL Europe). He also spent time on the Panthers and Chiefs practice teams. After his playing days, Durde spent six seasons as defensive coordinator for the London Warriors, who play in Britain’s top American football league. He did a coaching internship with the Cowboys as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Scholarship, then joined the Falcons in 2016, also as part of that program. I worked with Aden during that time in Atlanta and realized he had a great eye for evaluating players and talent, a skill not all coaches have. He is smart, hardworking, and has the ability to connect and communicate with players while maintaining a high level of responsibility. One one to watch out for is Durde, who is in his first year as a Cowboys defensive line coach.

Tem Lukabu, Defensive Coordinator, Boston College

A native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lukabu is in his second season as defensive coordinator at Boston College under the direction of Jeff Hafley, with whom Lukabu worked for two seasons on the 49ers. Lukabu has coached to some extent since 2006, also working for NFL concerts for the Buccaneers (2012-13) and Bengals (2019). Prior to coaching, Lukabu was a three-year starting linebacker at Colgate, winning the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons.

Jerod Mayo, inside linebackers coach, New England Patriots

The No.10 overall pick as Tennessee linebacker in 2008, Mayo spent his eight seasons playing in the NFL in New England, where he is now in his third year as a coach. Having consumed over a decade of Bill Belichick knowledge, Mayo has impressed many in the league with his rare work ethic and ability to connect with players. In fact, he was interviewed for the Eagles head coach job in the last hiring cycle.

I spent time with Mayo during the draft process in 2008, my last year as vice president of player personnel in New England. I was amazed by the time he spent in the movie theater, after college and during his rookie season. He was named Defensive Rookie of the Year and won two Pro Bowl nods and one Super Bowl ring.


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