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Posted at 09:46 AM ET, 05/23/2012

James Thrash, Troy Vincent, help develop the next generation of coaches

During their NFL careers, defensive back Troy Vincent and receiver James Thrash were valued by coaches and teammates for their play-making abilities and their roles as strong team leaders.

Vincent spent the bulk of his 15-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles, while Thrash spent nine of his 12 seasons with the Redskins. The two spent the 2003 season as teammates in Philadelphia, and now they are teaming up to provide guidance for former NFL players who want to establish themselves as coaches.

Vincent and Thrash are heading up the NFL Player Engagement program’s second annual NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy, which runs through today in Dallas..

The program provides 30 current and former NFL players with classes and networking opportunities that will help them break into the coaching ranks or further advance their careers as coaches.

Instructors at the program include NFL, college and high school coaches, business leaders and the administrators of college athletic programs. Topics include building personal and professional brands, managing budgets, networking, media interaction, understanding coaching contracts, building relationships, effective leadership, understanding the academic landscape and interviewing.

“The biggest thing we’re providing is the education on what it takes to be a coach, what these universities look for, what mistakes you can avoid, what the proper steps are,” said Thrash, who has worked for the NFL Player Engagement program for about two months. “And in addition to giving them that information, this gives them opportunities to network with people in the high school, Division I, II and III and professional coaching ranks.”

The 30 players attending the seminar were selected from among 154 applicants. Roughly half already hold coaching positions with colleges or high schools, while others hope to start coaching.

“It’s a natural gravitation for most former athletes,” said Vincent, vice president of the NFL Player Engagement program. “But not everybody knows how to begin that coaching career. This helps with that, and also helps players figure out what their comfort level is. Is it the collegiate level? Is it pro, or back to high school?

“And,” Vincent added, “this helps develop and monitor a pipeline of coaches. There’s no NFL Europe anymore, so this helps sustain that crop of young coaches.”

One of the former players-turned-coaches attending the academy this week is former Redskin Joe Jacoby. Other former Redskins there include Clarence Vaughn, Randall Godfrey, Donnell Bennett and John Simon.

Jacoby – a former All-Pro lineman and member of the famed Hogs -- has served as an assistant coach at Shenandoah University, a Division III program in Winchester, Va., since 2008. He hopes to continue climbing the coaching ranks, and sees the academy as a critical step in that journey.

“I want to gain more knowledge, meet more people and try to advance myself, learn from other people that have been at this longer than I have; see what kind of insight I can bring back,” Jacoby said. “And I want to see what other opportunities are out there. …Who knows, I might be able to turn it into a head coaching position somewhere, or offensive coordinator. Who knows? It’s the same way that as a football player, you’re always trying to improve yourself.”

By  |  09:46 AM ET, 05/23/2012

 
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