Jan. 19, 2012
By Zak Gilbert
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State has added a coach fully dedicated to improving the football team’s strength and conditioning, Head Coach Jim McElwain announced Thursday.
McElwain has hired Mike Kent, who trained Darrelle Revis, Josh Freeman and Deion Branch during their college careers, as the Rams’ head football strength and conditioning coach. Additionally, CSU on Thursday announced the hiring of Rashad Harris as assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Kent, who enters his 32nd season as a coach of football student-athletes, a career that includes 29 years as a respected strength and conditioning instructor, introduced himself to McElwain’s first team at a meeting Monday night.
“I am ecstatic to be able to add a coach the quality of Mike Kent,” McElwain said from the recruiting trail. “This is an important hire, because NCAA rules mean he’ll spend more time with our players than any other coach.
“I have a lot of faith in Mike to help prepare our guys not only from a physical, lifting standpoint, but also the mental aspect. How do you approach your work day? He’s a huge part of investing in our most important asset, our players. He’s going to help us make constant deposits into that bank. And we won’t make any withdrawals until Saturdays in the fall.”
Kent joins the Rams from Appalachian State, where he’d served two stints (2009-11 and 1990-99) as head of the Mountaineers’ strength and conditioning program for all student-athletes.
Including a school-record three Appalachian State players selected in a single draft (three in 2011) and eight total drafted players – counting five during his first stint at App State – Kent has physically and mentally conditioned more than three dozen future NFL athletes. Included on that list:
• DB Mark LeGree, OL Daniel Kilgore and LB D.J. Smith, all 2011 draft selections (worked with Kent at App State, 2009-10).
• QB Josh Freeman, Pro Bowler/first-round draft selection, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (K-State, 2007-08).
• WR Jordy Nelson, second-round selection, Super Bowl champion, Green Bay Packers (K-State, 2007).
• DB Joshua Moore, fifth-round selection, Chicago Bears (K-State, 2007-09).
• WR/KR Brandon Banks, two-year starter, Washington Redskins (K-State, 2007-09).
• CB Darrelle Revis, three-time first-team All-Pro, four-time Pro Bowler, first-round selection, N.Y. Jets (Pitt, 2004-06).
• OT Jeff Otah, first-round selection, Carolina Panthers (Pitt, 2004-06).
• LB Clint Session, fourth-round selection, Indianapolis Colts (Pitt, 2004-06).
• QB Dave Ragone, third-round selection, Houston Texans (Louisville, 2000-02).
• WR Deion Branch, Super Bowl MVP, second-round selection, New England Patriots (Louisville, 2000-01).
• DE Dewayne White, second-round selection, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Louisville, 2000-02).
• LB Dexter Coakley, three-time Pro Bowler, third-round selection, Dallas Cowboys (App State, 1993-96).
• QB Jeff Blake, Pro Bowler, eight-year starter, several teams (East Carolina, 1989-90).
• LB George Koonce, eight-year starter, Super Bowl champion, Green Bay Packers (East Carolina, 1988-90).
• WR Haywood Jeffires, three-time Pro Bowler, first-round selection, Houston Oilers (N.C. State, 1985-86).
The 1995 Southern Conference Strength Coach of the Year, Kent in between his tenures at Appalachian State headed the football team’s strength and conditioning program at four Division I universities. He spent three seasons (2007-09) at Kansas State, three years (2004-06) at Pitt, four campaigns (2000-03) at Louisville, and one year (1999) at Eastern Kentucky.
Before overseeing the power and speed performances of all student-athletes at Appalachian State (1990-99), he served as assistant director of strength and conditioning at East Carolina from 1998-90.
The head strength coach at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.V. from 1987-88, Kent also coached defensive line for that program. Before that, he laid much of his foundation in the field at North Carolina State, where from 1985-87 he served as graduate assistant, strength coach and assistant defensive line coach.
Kent invested four years into high-school athletes, as a strength coach, offensive line coach and social studies teach at Miramar (Fla.) High School from 1984-85, and as the head wrestling coach, assistant football and track coach, and weight-room assistant at East Fairmont (W.V.) High School from 1982-84.
He launched his coaching career as a student-assistant working with defensive ends, and assisting in the weight room, at Fairmont (W.V.) from 1981-82.
A former outside linebacker, Kent played from 1978-79 at Potomac State College in West Virginia, and in 1980 at Fairmont State. A 1982 graduate of Fairmont State, he owns a bachelor’s in education and social studies. He also earned a master’s in recreation resource administration from N.C. State in 1987.
Kent and his wife, Deena, are relocating to Fort Collins. A member of the National Hot Rod Association, he hails from Parkersburg, W.V.
Another Louisville connection
Harris at Colorado State is reunited with Kent and McElwain for the first time since the three were on the Louisville sideline at the 2000 Liberty Bowl against the Rams. A four-year starter (1997-2000) for the Cardinals, Harris was the program’s defensive MVP as a senior.
He joins the Rams from powerhouse Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky., where he had served as an assistant football coach, strength coach, and P.E. teacher since the 2006 season.
Before that, Harris was a football graduate assistant at Michigan State, where he worked with McElwain and CSU offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin.
He made the transition into coaching after retiring as a professional player, following two seasons with the Barcelona Dragons (NFL Europe) from 2002-03, and time on the rosters of the Jacksonville Jaguars (2002) and Cincinnati Bengals (2001).
A second-team all-Conference USA linebacker at Louisville, he also garnered third-team honors from Phil Steele and all-freshman recognition in 1997, his first of four years as a starter. Harris, who ranks 10th all-time on the program’s career tackles list, led the Cardinals to three bowl games and a 2000 league championship. A scholar-athlete, he also earned his teammates’ vote as a captain in each of his final two seasons.
Recruited to Louisville by Ron Cooper, now an assistant at LSU, Harris starred at Athens (Ala.) High School near Huntsville, Ala., a school that also produced QB Philip Rivers.
Harris graduated in 2001 from Louisville with a degree in physical education. He also owns a master’s in sports administration from Michigan State (’05) and has nearly completed his requirements for a second master’s, in special education, from Georgetown (Ky.) College.
Harris and his wife, Rebecca, have a daughter, Soleil.
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