Photo by Brent Beerends / MT Athletic Communications
That first big job at an Football Bowl Subdivision school is something that can put a lot of pressure on young coach’s shoulders.
The big plus for Austin Silvoy and Siriki Diabate? They are stepping into a program with a lot of talent at each of their respective positions.
The wide receiver and linebacker spots are some of the most solidified rotations for Middle Tennessee heading into 2017 and beyond. With two units that feature team captains, an All-American and fresh young talent, Silvoy and Diabate are stepping into two of the best coaching situations in the country.
Although he will only be turning 30 this December, Silvoy has plenty of experience when it comes to the wide receiver position. In high school, Silvoy was one of Tim Tebow’s top targets at Nease High in Ponte Verde, Florida. The two won a state title together in 2006 as seniors, a year in which Silvoy finished with 922 receiving yards.
“The biggest thing (Tim) helped me with was teaching me how to work hard and give it all to God,” Silvoy said. “Being able to watch him in the weight room and in conditioning drills and see his attitude and ability to finish helped me in my career as a player and a reciever.”
After high school, Silvoy played college ball for one of the Blue Raiders biggest rivals, the Troy Trojans. In four seasons with Troy, Silvoy caught 44 balls for 563 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2011, he began his coaching career as a receiver and tight end coach at Central Oklahoma before he migrated over to Florida Tech where he coached receivers from 2012-2015.
In 2016, the Blue Raiders hired Silvoy as a quality control assistant where he worked closely with the coaching staff. After the departure of Kez McCorvey this past season, Silvoy stepped in as the new receivers coach just before the start of spring practice.
He inherits a group that is one of the most talented receiving corps in the nation. The unit has plenty of youth with their top performers returning in Richie James, a redshirt junior, and sophomore Ty Lee. Sophomores CJ Windham, Isaiah Upton and Jocquez Bruce are another wave of up-and-coming performers. On top of that, the addition of freshmen Tyrese Johnson, Zeke Cobb and Zack Dobson will give Silvoy plenty to look forward to in the future.
Last season, Middle Tennessee’s receiving corp accounted for 3,545 yards through the air to go along with 36 touchdowns. With performances like these, Silvoy steps into his new position with high expectations and plenty of job security if he can fulfill them.
“I don’t feel like I have any less pressure on me than I had last year,” Silvoy said. “I’m trying to be the best position coach that I can. We try to develop our guys, and they have made improvements (this summer) in the weight room and schematically have adjusted to some of the new routes and concepts. I’m proud of our guys, and they have done everything well together. It looks like a brotherhood out there.”
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders hired Diabate after longtime linebacker coach David Bibee resigned.
Diabate comes to Murfreesboro from Notre Dame, where he served as a defensive analyst during spring practice. Prior to his short stint with the Fighting Irish, Diabate spent two years as the safeties coach for Colgate University, where he helped coach a team that was tops in the nation in total defense and run defense.
He also had two NFL internships with the Buffalo Bills in 2014 and the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 where he coached linebackers and special teams.
Like Silvoy, Diabate already has plenty of experience at the linebacker position. He played under current Blue Raider defensive coordinator Scott Shafer at Syracuse.
“Playing and coming up in (Coach Shafer’s) system definitely helps with what I’m trying to teach the kids because I already understand the ins and outs of it,” Diabate said. “The goal is to make it simple for them. If we can do that, they will play fast and not be thinking, and that makes us more aggressive on the field.”
The Côte d’Ivoire, Africa, native inherits a group that will need to fill a huge leadership role in 2017 in order for this defense to improve its play. Luckily for Diabate, he has the veterans in place to do that.
Three of the team’s top five tacklers last year are returning in DJ Sanders, Darius Harris and Chris Melton. Melton was the only Blue Raider with over 100 tackles last year. The junior also had 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble and will step into a much bigger leadership role this season.
Sanders is a man that can wreak havoc on opposing offenses as he has proved in the past. In his career, the senior has 125 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions, three of which he brought back for touchdowns.
Fifth-year senior Miles Harges brings another veteran presence to the table. Harges has collected a total of 50 tackles in just 12 games in a Blue Raider uniform. Along with Sanders, Harris and Melton, he will help lead the entire MTSU defense.
“There’s things we all have to work on,” Diabate said. “(Our veterans) help us all succeed as a group. We have a good group of guys that work hard and listen, and that helps us on a day-to-day basis.”
The young coaches may be just starting out but, with the talent they have been presented to coach, they already look primed to have successful coaching careers at MTSU.
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