TUSKERS SPECIAL TEAMS COACH ROBERTS A TEACH FIRST
ORLANDO, FL - FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010- There are several requirements to being a special teams coach, all of which begin and end with being the most passionate instructor on the field. The Florida Tuskers maybe have the best special teams coordinator in the business with 40-year veteran Al Roberts, who has coached at every level of football.
Roberts meets the qualifications with flying colors as he is always the most stern-spoken and excited man on the Tuskers practice field. The players respond to him in-kind with affectionate shoves and hand pounds when they are successful.
That comes natural to Roberts, who played football in college at the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound in the 1960s so he knows what it's like to be a player.
"My coaching style isn't any different than anyone else," Roberts said as he sat on the bench at Thunder Field awaiting the team to emerge from the locker room. "I don't think you can love your players as much as I do and not show it. My style comes from being a father, a brother, and a friend but all I have to be is a teacher to the players."
Tuskers' cornerback Fakhir Brown knows all about coach Roberts' philosophies from their time together with the St. Louis Rams in the National Football League during the 2006 season. Brown played gunner on punts for Brown in those days. While Brown is not currently on any of the Tuskers special teams units, he says he will be ready if Roberts calls his number.
"I love Al, he is the type of guy that if you're having a bad morning you just go see him because he will brighten up your day and make you smile," Brown said. "That's the reason I wouldn't mind playing special teams is I love playing for Al because he is a great guy and a great teacher."
A fun fact about Roberts is that he was the final running backs coach in hall of famer Earl Campbell's career with the New Orleans Saints in the 1985 season. In addition to the Rams and Saints, Roberts has been with the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, and Washington Redskins. His collegiate stops include Purdue, Washington, and Wyoming.
Tuskers' head coach Jay Gruden will have Roberts be a key decision-maker in which players make the final roster. Roberts says he feels like this team is more talented than the squad that went 6-0 last season.
"I think we're a very talented team at every position on the field," Roberts said. "There are some tough decisions to be made at wide receiver and cornerbacks especially, so a lot of those guys are also on special teams they need to step up their play and be good in both areas."
During training camp the team has spent a lot of time ironing out its special teams units. Gruden has a lot of confidence in Roberts' ability to coach the Tuskers' special teams to once again be one of the best in the UFL.
"It's great to have a guy with all of the experience that Al brings to our coaching staff," Gruden said. "He really gets our guys moving and he knows what works and what doesn't work as far as his coaching style. Last year we had great special teams and this year I expect them to be even better with more talent on the field."
While Roberts' presence may bring smiles to his player's faces, the Tuskers will hope his tutelage will help bring some frowns to opposing teams in 2010.
FLORIDA TUSKERS FRIDAY CAMP NOTES: The Tuskers made their first move in reducing their numbers to the league-mandated 52-man roster by releasing several players on Friday...the team waived WR Bennie Brazell (LSU), DT Jarriett Buie (South Florida), P Aaron Horne (UCF), WR CJ Jones (Iowa), WR Ryne Robinson (Miami OH), DB Antwain Spann (Louisiana Lafayette) and LB Brett Warren (Virginia Tech)... "Cutting players is always the most difficult part of the job," Tuskers Head Coach Jay Gruden said. "Nothing against these guys, they are extremely talented football players who came in here and worked hard. But we need to get down to our 52 best players and that involves making some tough calls."...Gruden will give the players the next two days off before returning to the practice field on Monday morning.
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United Football League Stories from September 3, 2010
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