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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

Alexander adds Rico Council to Tech football staff

Alexander adds Rico Council to Tech football staff

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Rico Council has spent so much time wearing the Big Blue of Tennessee State, slipping into the Purple and Gold of Tennessee Tech is probably a little bit of culture shock.

"In my whole time in the conference, all I've ever worn is blue," he said with a smile. "Now I'm putting on purple and gold and trying to figure that out, so it's a little different."

Nevertheless, the former Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year is ready to hit the field with the Golden Eagles as the newest football assistant coach, overseeing the outside linebackers and assisting with special teams.

"I'm excited about the opportunity," Council said. "It's not often to have a quick change like this or to stay in the same conference for a bit. It's new, but it's familiar. I'm enjoying it so far.

"Other than the different colors, it's all the same. These are great guys, intelligent guys who love football, so you can build that camaraderie with them. It's just a new challenge. I can't wait to get out there and try to win a championship with them."

Head coach Dewayne Alexander sees a great advantage adding Council to the Golden Eagles.

"We're excited about what Coach Council brings to the staff," he said. "When we have a full-time position, there's always a ton of interest. There were over 150 applicants for the position and we're always looking for guys that are going to fit well on our current staff, guys who are relationship builders, guys who really care about players and put them first, guys who are effective recruiters. Those are all important.

"You look at Rico, he checked every box. First of all, he knows OVC football. He's a state of Tennessee guy, originally from Chattanooga, a conference defensive player of the year and all-conference performer multiple times, so he was certainly a great player in the OVC. He coached at TSU in recent years and has special teams experience as well as defensive experience as a player and coach. He's just a great fit in what we're looking for football-wise and recruiting-wise."

He also has a great rapport when it comes to recruiting – fulfilling a lesson he learned from his previous head coach, former TSU helmer Rod Reed.

"You've got to show the kids how much you care," Council said. "Coach Reed always told us that they don't care how much you know until you show how much you care, so you have to build relationships with the kids and earn their trust to get the most out of them."

Alexander said, "(Rico) does a great job recruiting because he cares about the players. He's a true relationship builder. He has a lot of ties to Chattanooga where he's from, he has a lot of ties in the Metro Nashville area – and those are areas that are important to us. He's going to do a tremendous job for us and he came highly recommended. I didn't have to reach out -- I had a lot of people calling me to say how much of a great addition he would be to our staff. They have some transition going on there at TSU and it happens in the coaching profession, so it made a lot of sense to bring him right here to join our staff.

"When I first met with him, there was just something about him that stood out. It was a no-brainer. He wanted to be here. We wanted him to be here, so we couldn't be more excited to add him to our staff."

Alexander and Reed go back a long way, so with one of the biggest votes of confidence coming from the former TSU head coach, it certainly wasn't surprising, but it spoke volumes.

"I think a lot of Rod," Alexander said. "The thing he said to me, 'He's like a son to me.' That told me all I needed to know. They know each other very well and he just talked about how phenomenal of a person Rico is. When people are good people and good human beings, they can make good coaches or good fill-in-the-blank. They can do whatever, but it starts there. We couldn't be more excited that he's a Golden Eagle."

In Council's senior campaign in 2011, he earned the conference's top defensive honor as he recorded 87 tackles, including 50 solo stops, eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, while also intercepting a pass, breaking up five more, forcing a fumble and recovering two. Council helped the Tigers to the Sergeant York Trophy in 2011, while finishing his career with 295 tackles – the fourth most in program history, led by his head coach Rod Reed with 406.

Council was a three-time All-American and the Chattanooga native earned three All-OVC selections – first-team defense in 2011, second-team defense in 2010 and all-newcomer in 2010. He is 10th in the TSU record books for single-game tackles with 15, an impressive feat with the defensive talent that has passed through the program over the years.

He was a three-year team captain and was a member of the team's leadership council.

Needless to say, with an impressive collegiate resume, Council knows what it takes to play at a high level and can translate that to the players currently on the field.

"Really, it's just about confidence," Council said. "Knowing what you need to do breeds confidence. You give a guy the confidence to do the job, you can go a long way with that."

After completing his collegiate career, Council spent time in the National Football League as he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons. Before the season was complete, the Tennessee Titans expressed interest and brought him back to Nashville.

"He knows what it takes to be an elite player," Alexander said. "With his conference accolades and experience in the NFL with the Falcons and the Titans, it means a lot. When he tells the players to do something, they know that he knows what it takes. If he's asking to use this technique or whatever it is, they understand. He's played at a high level and knows how to get there. All of the guys out here have dreams and aspirations to do that, having someone who's been there and done that helps. It merits a great deal of respect right out of the gate and he knows what we're trying to build our players up to be."

Council began his coaching career on the prep level as he spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Mt. Juliet Christian in 2014 and 2015. He returned to Tennessee State, joining Reed's staff as a defensive quality control coach in 2016, then moving up the ranks as a linebackers coach and special teams coordinator from 2017 through the most recent 2020-21 campaign.

He completed his degree from TSU in liberal arts with a concentration in psychology and criminal justice.

Being around the OVC for a pretty good while, Council comes in prepared. He's seen every team in the league already and knows exactly what they bring to the table.

"I've been coaching in the OVC now since 2016," he said. "There's some things that are still the same, there's always some new wrinkles out there, but football's football. It's going to be a grind and you're going to see something new every week. It's a good conference and you've got to be prepared for what they're all going to throw at you."

Alexander said, "It's a huge benefit because he understands this conference. He's going to be a big asset to Coach (Chris) Grimes and Coach (Lamont) Seward. You can't have too many guys with a special teams background because it's a big part of the game. He's already broke down film on this conference and knows what people like to do. Even in recruiting, he may be wearing a different color shirt, but they know who he is. That means a lot. Not only are we adding effective coaches to our staff, we're always going to add effective recruiters.

With an impressive improvement on defense in the spring campaign, Council will certainly have plenty of weapons to work with alongside his fellow coaches.

"The best part is everybody got that extra year (from the COVID pandemic)," he said. "These guys are going to be smarter and be ready for what we're going to want them to do. It really should be a great year for them. Just looking at them, I remember a lot of these guys. They can fly around and do some damage. I haven't had a chance to go to the field with them yet, but it's going to be a good deal here."

Alexander added, "Defense was a big area of improvement. We finished second in the conference in total defense and we've made strides each season. Some of that has been personnel driven, recruiting, changing over systems, nomenclature, all of those things. There's been a lot of transition on the defensive side over the last five or six years. For the last three years, we're finally getting to a point where it's all being called the same thing, we understand it better and there's a true sense of continuity.

"We've recruited to the style we want to play and it allows us to do even more stuff. In any offensive or defensive system, you're limited in doing what your players can do in that system. Some of them are better suited for something different. Like I told Rico and our current recruits – it's always a good time to be a Golden Eagle, but this is the best time because there has been a lot of transition and foundation building. A lot of things have happened on the front end of this program that we're now at the point we're going to start seeing a lot of the fruits of our labor. The talent level is certainly better. Our guys understand our system more and that's going to make it easier for him to transition in to coach."

The Golden Eagle football team opens its season on September 2 as Tech travels to Birmingham to take on Samford.

Tickets for the 2021 season are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940, visit TTUsports.com or the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office to order.

Photo | Zekeya Anderson

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