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Rocco Announces Coaching Additions/Changes

February 28, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Danny Rocco has announced his 2009 football coaching staff, which includes four new faces.

Danny Rocco has announced his 2009 football coaching staff, which includes four new faces.

Three-time Big South Coach of the Year Danny Rocco has announced his 2009 coaching staff, which includes five returning staff members to go along with four fresh faces on the sidelines for the Flames.

"We are all very excited about the hiring of four new coaches, as well as the realignment of several of our original staff members," commented Rocco, with regard to his first staff changes since arriving on Liberty Mountain three seasons ago.

"We believe that these hires will allow us to continue to build a championship-quality football program here at Liberty University" continued Rocco. "We appreciate the support of Chancellor Falwell, Jeff Barber and the entire LU administration on this matter."

The five returning assistant coaches, who have helped turn a 1-10 program around to win back-to-back Big South titles and finish No. 14 nationally last year, include Tom Clark, Marshall Roberts, Charlie Skalaski, Brandon Streeter and Pete Sundheim.

On the defensive side of the field, Clark will be returning for his fourth year as the Flames defensive coordinator, while taking over the role of linebackers coach. Since taking over the defensive reigns, Clark has successfully helped implement a 3-4 defensive scheme, while holding opponent scoring to a minimum.

During his two years at Liberty, Clark's defensive efforts have helped the Flames finish No. 12 nationally in scoring defense (15.6 points per game) this past season, while Liberty ranked No. 14 (18.67 points per game) in same category in 2008, helping the Flames finished the year 10-2.

Roberts has been promoted to the position of Special Teams Coordinator, while slightly shifting his defensive mindset, as he will now coach Liberty's cornerbacks. Liberty was one of the nation's best FCS special teams programs in 2008, ranking nationally in punt return average (No. 12/14.61) and kickoff return average (No. 21/22.05).

Roberts, who has served as Liberty's defensive backs coach since 2004, has seen 10 of his players garner Big South all-conference honors since joining Liberty's staff. As a team, the Flames finished the 2007 season ranked No. 12 nationally in interceptions.

Liberty's prolific offense will be under the direction of a familiar face in 2009. Brandon Streeter will retain his quarterback coaching positions, while assuming the reigns as the Flames Offensive Coordinator.

"Coach Streeter did an outstanding job developing Brock Smith and working as our passing game coordinator in 2008," commented Rocco about his new offensive skipper's past performance.
Under Streeter, Liberty ranked No. 7 nationally in passing efficiency (158.81), while Smith individually ranked No. 4 (161.79) in the same category and threw for the sixth-highest passing total in program history (2,620 yards).

Sundheim, who is the senior member of the Flames' coaching staff, will be entering his 21st at Liberty and will reprise a former coaching role for himself, as running backs coach. Sundheim, who will be retaining his status as the Flames associate head coach, has coached the Flames tight ends for the past five years.

After serving 13 seasons on the defensive side of the line, Sundheim made the switch to running backs coach for three years, starting in 2001. During the trio of seasons, Liberty nearly averaged 2,000 rushing yards per year, peaking in 2003, when the Flames rushed for a program-record 2,614 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Skalaski is the lone familiar coach to not pick up new duties, returning as the Flames' wide receivers coach and Recruiting Coordinator. As wide receivers coach, Skalaski has coached two of the better wide receiving tandems in program history.

In 2007, the pair of Brandon Turner and Wynton Jackson helped the Flames finish No. 3 nationally in scoring (42.6 points per game), shattering program and Big South records. Last year, the grouping of Dominic Bolden and Jonathan Crawford combined for 1,769 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, while Bolden posting the program's second-highest single season receiving mark (1,056).

Joining Streeter, Skalaski and Sundheim in the offensive coaching rooms this will be Blaine McCorkle and Ernie McCook.

McCorkle is no stranger to Liberty's football program, as the Anniston, Ala., native has already served two other stints on Liberty Mountain.

In 2005, McCorkle coached Liberty's offensive line, a role he will be once again undertake during this go around with the Flames. In 2007, he was a member of Liberty's strength and condition program, focusing his efforts on the Flames' offensive linemen, including Hula Bowl participant and NFL free agent Stephen Sene.

McCorkle comes back to Liberty Mountain after serving one year as offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Tennessee Tech. The 2000 graduate of LSU has also served coaching stints at UT-Martin, as a wide receivers/offensive line/tight ends coach (2000-02), University of the South, as an offensive line coach (2003-04) and UT-Chattanooga, as a offensive tackles and tight ends coach (2006).

Liberty's second offensive newcomer will be Ernie McCook, who has spent the past decade at Shepherd College, as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.

McCook, who will be Liberty's new tight ends coach and running game coordinator, led the nation's No. 10 Division II rushing offense and running back Denvon Wallace, who led the country in all-purpose yardage (222.8 yards per game). During the same season, McCook mentored the nation's best Division II center, as Ryan Pope was named the Rimington Award winner.

McCook's success with the Rams has not been limited to recent seasons, as his squad's offense has ranked nationally year-in and year-out. In 2006, Shephard ranked No. 25 in rushing offense (174.8 yards per game), while the Rams led the nation in scoring offense in 2005 (34.8 points per game).

In 2000, McCook coached the nation's Division II national leader in rushing yards, as Dalevon Smith ran for an average of 166.1 yards per game.

Prior to his days at Shepherd, McCook was the run game coordinator and offensive line coach at Frostburg, while also serving on staff at his alma mater, Wesley College, both as a defensive and offensive line coach.

Making the switch to the defensive side of the field, Liberty will be bringing more than 40 years of FBS coaching experiences to its coaching staff in Wally Ake and Levern Belin.

Ake just recently completed his fifth year at Army, where he has served as secondary coach since joining the Black Knights staff in 2004.

Prior to his five-year stint at Army, Ake served seven different stints at other FBS programs, including Western Michigan (defensive backs/special teams; 2001-03), Maryland (defensive coordinator; 1997-2000), Rice (defensive coordinator; 1994-96), Clemson (inside linebackers; 1990-93), Arkansas (defensive line; 1984-89 and tight ends; 1980) and Air Force (defensive line; 1981-83).

Spotlighting Ake's near 30 years of prior collegiate coaching experiences, is a seven-year run as defensive coordinator at Maryland and Rice.

During his time with the Terrapins, where Rocco and Ake worked together during the 1998 and 1999 seasons, Maryland ranked No. 12 in most improved total defense, No. 13 in scoring defense, No. 14 in passing defense. Four of his players went on to play professionally in the NFL.

While at Rice, Ake played a key role in helping the Owls to a share of the Southwestern Conference championship in 1994, while guiding Rice to Top 25 national rankings in four different defensive statistical categories.

Belin comes to Liberty after serving the past three seasons as the defensive line coach at Virginia. The 18-year coaching veteran and a former three-year starter at Wake Forest will be reprising his Cavalier's coaching role with the Flames.

Highlighting Belin's trio of seasons at Virginia for Belin was coaching defensive end Chris Long, a consensus All-American and the No. 2 overall draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. In 2007, Virginia ranked No. 23 nationally in total defense and No. 16 in scoring defense, while this past season, the Cavaliers ranked 24 in sacks allowed.

Before moving to Charlottesville, Va., for his three years with Virginia, Belin coached at Northern Illinois (defensive interior line; 2004), William & Mary (linebacker and defensive line; 2001-03), Maryland (defensive line; 1999), Ball State (outside linebackers/defensive ends; 1994-98), East Tennessee State (defensive line; 1993) and Boston College (graduate assistant and defensive line; 1991-92).

While at Ball State, he helped guide one of the best run defenses in the Mid-American Conference. During his stint with the Cardnials, Belin's defensive ends helped Ball State's defense rank first in the conference and No. 34 nationally in fewest yards allowed in 1997.