Cole Popovich always had a desire to coach football. The former Yosemite High and Fresno State star has shown that since he finished playing for the Bulldogs in 2008.
Former Fresno State coach Pat Hill recognized that as well, as did former Bulldogs strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera, who has the same role with the New England Patriots. Both contacted Patriots head coach Bill Belichick about adding Popovich to the staff of his NFL team.
After all, Hill was an assistant under Belichick with the Cleveland Browns from 1992-95.
Recommendation accepted. Popovich headed to Foxborough, Mass, before the NFL regular season concluded and joined the Patriots as an offensive line assistant.
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“It’s great to see so many former Bulldogs having success in the coaching profession and in their personal lives,” Hill said.
Popovich began his coaching career with Los Angeles Valley College in 2010 as the strength and conditioning and offensive line coach. He moved on and joined Tony Caviglia’s Fresno City staff from 2011-13.
When I met him he was determined to be a great coach. His demeanor with the kids is demanding but positive. He knew how to get the most out of his players.
Fresno City College coach Tony Caviglia
“When I met him he was determined to be a great coach,” Caviglia said. “His demeanor with the kids is demanding but positive. He knew how to get the most out of his players.”
In 2013, Popovich joined Utah State as the football team’s offensive graduate assistant. He stayed with the Aggies for two seasons and helped the team to a Mountain Division championship and a Poinsettia Bowl victory.
Minot State hired Popovich in 2014 as the team’s offensive line coach. He was promoted to run game coordinator in 2015.
When Minot State hired Popovich, he credited Hill for his climb through the coaching ranks.
“Being at Fresno State was an important step for me going into coaching because of the way Coach Hill ran the program,” Popovich said on the team’s website. “We received a good football education – he didn’t dumb stuff down because it was college. I felt like I was ahead of the curve because of it. It was a part of his plan, to teach football and prepare players for either coaching or for the NFL if that was going to be in their future.”
At Yosemite High, Popovich was a Bee All-Star in 2002 when he helped the Badgers win the Sequoia Division Large School championship.
Popovich played offensive guard at Fresno State and was the first true freshman to start under Hill. Popovich, who battled injuries throughout his Fresno State career, in 2007 helped the Bulldogs to a 40-28 victory over Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl.
Hill keeps in contact with Popovich and said he will keep growing as a coach with the Patriots.
Cole will do a great job. He will get very valuable lessons being a part of Bill Belichick’s coaching staff.
Former Fresno State coach Pat Hill
“Cole will do a great job,” Hill said. “He will get very valuable lessons being a part of Bill Belichick’s coaching staff.”
Mankins to Pro Bowl – Guard Logan Mankins has made it to the Pro Bowl six times – all with the New England Patriots.
The former Fresno State star is back at the annual event, this time as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mankins replaces Carolina Panthers guard Trai Turner, whose team will play the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl 50 Feb. 7 in Santa Clara.
Mankins joins fellow Fresno State alum Derek Carr, a star quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, at the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Sunday at Aloha Stadium and will be televised on ESPN.