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Pettine & Vikings Host Inaugural Diversity Coaching Summit

EAGAN, Minn. — An idea that Mike Pettine sprouted in Green Bay has come to fruition this week in Minnesota.

Pettine joined the Vikings this offseason as the assistant head coach under Kevin O'Connell. He brought with him 28 years of previous coaching experience in high school, college and the NFL. Pettine's 19 previous seasons in the NFL include two as head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2014-15) and eight as a defensive coordinator with the Jets (2009-12), Bills (2013) and Packers (2018-20).

He also brought with him an idea that a team should host a Diversity Coaching Summit with the goal of improving opportunities for minority coaches.

The Vikings have put it in motion this week, inviting 12 minority coaches to participate in a three-day summit that will include presentations, group activities and mock interviews, as well as time on the field with current Vikings players.

Perhaps most importantly, the summit provides an opportunity for participants to build relationships, broaden their networks and receive helpful feedback.

"The real basic premise of the program is really to feed the candidate pool for the NFL from the bottom up," Pettine said. "I don't think there's enough emphasis placed on the entry-level jobs, which is why the target for these candidates, really, they weren't college position coaches.

"These are QCs (quality control coaches) that are analysts, graduate assistants, because … on a lot of NFL staffs, that's the glue," Pettine said. "People don't realize how important a lot of those positions are. I do think this establishes a little bit of a different niche than the Bill Walsh fellowship program, because a lot of those jobs and opportunities typically go to college position coaches or college coordinators."

Pettine pointed out that coaches with quality control experience are below the tier of position coaches that could get blocked by a team from interviewing with another organization for a lateral move, but they've put in the work to learn the system and then are ready for the next step.

"So to be able to increase the pipeline for candidates in those roles, I just think was something that was missing. Hopefully we feel like we've got it mapped out pretty good," Pettine said. "I'm sure there will be some glitches in Year 1, but ultimately I'd love to be able to provide a template for the rest of the league. I just think the hardest part of this was telling candidates no. There was just so many of them. We could have 40 or 50 in here, easily, that all would have been qualified to do it."

Linebacker Eric Kendricks said he was pleased to see the Vikings and Pettine put forth the initiative.

"It's very important. I feel like especially with this league that we play in, we are predominantly an African American, minority league, and it's important to have that representation as far as the coaching staff, as well," Kendricks said. "That goes across the board, high school, college, professional, and I think with a program like that, it not only makes it known and a priority, it gives them real great coaching from great coaches, so it's very important."

The Vikings went through an extensive process to identify the 12-member inaugural class that is listed below in alphabetical order by last name:

Imarjaye Albury, Sr.

Working with Vikings defensive line/outside linebackers

Currently: Vikings Personnel Department

Previously: Cortland State (2017), Ave Maria (2018), Arkansas Graduate Assistant (2018-19), Vikings Quality Control — Defense and Assistant Defensive Line (2020-21)

Education: West Virginia and Florida International

Reggie Bain

Working with Vikings offensive line

Currently: University of Miami Graduate Assistant

Previously: Illinois Graduate Assistant (2021)

Education: Florida Atlantic (bachelor's) and University of Miami (enrolled in master's program)

Mark Cala

Working with Vikings quarterbacks

Currently: Arkansas Offensive Analyst

Previously: University of Puget Sound (2015-16), Florida Atlantic (2017), University of Houston (2018), Florida State (2019-20), Arkansas (2020-present)

Education: University of Puget Sound

Cortez Carter

Working with Vikings inside linebackers

Currently: Florida State Defensive Analyst

Previously: Brooke Point High School (2015), Marshall University Graduate Assistant (2016-17), Lock Haven University (2018), Memphis Graduate Assistant (2019)

Education: Marshall University and Memphis

Ryan "Chili" Davis

Working with Vikings special teams and receivers

Currently: Florida A&M Special Teams Coordinator

Previously: Campbell University (2012-15), Louisiana Tech (2015-16), Fordham University (2016), New Mexico State (2017-2021), University of Washington (2021), Grambling (2021-April 2022), Florida A&M (April 2022-present)

Education: Campbell University

Kenji Jackson

Working with Vikings defensive backs

Currently: Northern Arizona Defensive Backs

Previously: Northwestern Graduate Assistant (2014), Missouri State (2014-2020), Arkansas (2020-22)

Education: Missouri and Northwestern

Courtney Love

Working with Vikings inside linebackers

Currently: Kentucky Director of Player Development

Previously: Kentucky Graduate Assistant (2018)

Education: Nebraska and Kentucky

Jeremy Modkins

Working with Vikings defensive backs

Previously: TCU (2014-22)

Education: TCU

Jordan Reid

Working with Vikings receivers

Currently: Wake Forest Graduate Assistant

Previously: Ohio University Graduate Assistant (2019-20)

Education: Ohio University

Ahmad Smith

Working with Vikings defensive backs

Currently: South Carolina Defensive Analyst

Previously: Indiana State Student Assistant/Graduate Assistant (2014-17), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (2017-18), Western Kentucky Graduate Assistant (2018-19)

Education: Indiana State and Western Kentucky

Roseanna Smith

Working with Vikings running backs

Currently: Oberlin College Running Backs and Director of Football Operations

Previously: Winder-Barrow High School (2010-13), Flowery Branch High School (2015-16), Atlanta Phoenix (2020), West Hall High School (2017-21)

Education: Iowa

Earnest Thomas III

Working with Vikings defensive backs

Currently: Tennessee Defensive Analyst

Previously: Michigan Elite Football Club (2015-18), Orchard Lake St. Mary's (2017-18), Massachusetts Graduate Assistant (2019-20)

Education: Illinois