Former Bobcats Swap Football Helmets For Headsets

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In Ohio football’s recent bowl run, continuity in the coaching staff has been a key to the Bobcats’ success. As the ‘Cats battle through 2014 to make their sixth-straight bowl appearance, two more familiar faces patrol the sidelines as coaches.

Tremayne Scott and Anthony Talbert once donned the Green and White on game days, and now they have returned to the Athens as graduate assistants.

Scott is no stranger to the Bobcat tradition. The former Ohio defensive lineman joined Frank Solich’s squad in 2008 and played at a high level for the ‘Cats right up to the final game of his college career. In the Bobcats’ Independence Bowl victory in 2012 he recorded five tackles, two sacks and an interception.

After graduating, Scott participated in the Dallas Cowboys’ rookie minicamp, and then returned to his hometown of Ocala, Fla. After a cup of coffee with the Cowboys he began working in real estate, but always kept continuous contact with Solich, defensive coordinator Jim Burrows and defensive line coach Jesse Williams. When a defensive graduate assistant spot opened up on Ohio’s staff, Scott was the first to hear about it.

Relative to Scott, who is in the midst of his sixth season with Ohio football, Talbert is a newbie in his second year with the program. After graduating from North Carolina State in 2012 with a degree in public relations, Talbert had one year of athletic eligibility left and joined Ohio as a graduate student last season.

Both Scott and Talbert always had the thought in the back of their mind that they might want to get into coaching after their playing days were over, and injuries in each of their redshirt senior seasons only reaffirmed those thoughts.

Scott played the first three games of his senior season and the final game. While sidelined, he was a de facto coach.

“He was a coach on the field when he played and unfortunately with his injury, he had to be more like a coach than a player,” Williams said.

Talbert suffered a torn MCL against Akron in the fifth game of the 2013 season. He returned, but then tore a ligament in his big toe in the third-to-last game of the season against Kent State. It was the second injury that accelerated the tight end’s thoughts on an extended career in football.

“I knew that my opportunities after athletics would be minimal, so I was looking for other opportunities and GA was one of them,” Talbert said.

More than a year removed from his time in Athens, Scott is excited to be back.

“I never regretted coming here in the first place and the fact that coach Solich and the defensive staff gave me a chance to come back and do what I want to do in coaching is a great opportunity,” he said.

 Though Talbert didn’t spent much time away after last season, he’s happy to back on board for a second year.

“[The program] has a hold on me,” he said. “I grew to love it. [The coaches] offered me a great opportunity to continue my education and to possibly build my resume as a coach. I was grateful for the offer and I took it.”

In addition to on-the-field coaching, Scott and Talbert spend time in graduate level classes, filing paperwork, breaking down film, sitting in on meetings and learning all the behind-the-scenes operations that are a part of coaching.

“I never noticed how much a coach really works until I became one,” Scott said with a laugh.

Off-the-field responsibilities have been the biggest learning curve for him. Coaching players in practice on game day is easy.

It helps to be working to be working with the defensive line and Williams his former coach. With years of continuity on Ohio’s coaching staff, Scott is coaching the same system he learned just a few years ago. Even in the little time he spent in Dallas, he was in a defensive scheme that was much like the Bobcats’. Yet another advantage working in Scott’s favor is the relationships he built with linemen like current seniors Antwan Crutcher and Kendric Smith. When Scott played he was like a coach to them, and two years later not much has changed.

“He was the older statesmen then, so he just kind of carried on where he left off,” Williams said.

Redshirt sophomore Kurt Laseak was redshirting his first year on campus in 2012, when Scott was a senior.

“I learned a lot from him watching him play and I have a lot of respect for him, so for him to come back and be coaching me up– I love that feeling,” Laseak said.

For Laseak, Scott’s recent history with the program has helped build an immediate level of trust and respect that makes the Ohio end comfortable when being coached up.

“He will watch you do something then pull you aside and talk to you one-on-one, man-to-man and let you know what you need to improve on,” Laseak said. “It makes it a lot better to see through his eyes what he wants.”

While Scott picks up right where he left with Williams and the defensive line, Talbert is working with wide receiver coach Dwayne Dixon and his unit.

The decision to put the former tight end with Dixon and the receivers was strictly based on numbers. Dixon works with 22 players, whereas tight ends coach Brian Haines works with eight. Placing Talbert with the receivers helps split Dixon’s load, gives Talbert a bigger platform for his voice to be heard and gives him a new perspective on receivers.

“Working with coach Dixon and the receivers has really enhanced my receiving knowledge, and as they learn from me I am learning from them,” Talbert said.

His tight end background has helped him instill a sense of physicality in Ohio receivers. A tight ends’ knowledge of the game includes both receiving routes and blocking schemes, and Talbert tries to emphasize the importance of blocking to his receivers.

“[I’m] up front and straight forward,” Talbert said. “I don’t want to beat around the bush with the guys. If there is something I want to tell I am going to tell them. I won’t sugar coat it.”

Talbert is a hands-on coach. He’s straightforward in his approach with players and very direct with Dixon, taking the time to ask all kinds of questions because he is eager to learn. Fully attentive, he absorbs information like a sponge because he wants to be the best he can be.

Just a season ago, Talbert was playing alongside the receivers he is coaching now. After building camaraderie as peers, it hasn’t been an issue for the former tight end to transition into a coaching role as a superior. His players have received him as a coach with total respect.

Scott’s transition to a coaching role has been just as smooth. Though two years removed from playing, many of the Bobcats’ upperclassmen played alongside him. He had their respect when they played together and that hasn’t changed.

“My philosophy is: those guys are in a coaching position,” Ohio wide receiver Chase Cochran said. “They’re your superior [and] not your teammate any more. So, you give them the respect that they deserve, that that position would garnish. I think we do a good job of that as players. Yes, they are my friends and people that I had good relationships with when they were players, but now it’s time for them to be a coach. It’s there chance, so, I listen to them and I take into account what they have to say because I do respect them.

Rather than Scott and Talbert’s recent playing status being an issue, it’s actually been an advantage for the Ohio coaching staff. Between players pushing through grueling practice and coaching barking orders, Scott and Talbert are bridges between the two. With their playing careers only a handful of months behind them, practices are still fresh on their minds. When practices wind down and players fight off exhaustion, Talbert and Scott can gauge the effectiveness of running a drill five and six times over.

“Do [they] feel like what we are doing now is advantageous?” Dixon said. [They bring] player perspective in terms of conditioning.”

“They know on the long hot days of fall that, ‘I know what this feels like, I know it stinks but it’s going get better,’ and that’s a comforting thing,” Cochran said.

The Bobcats are hoping those long days pay off in the form a Mid-American Conference championship. Scott and Talbert hope their first year on the sidelines helps get Ohio there.