Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea finalizes staff

Larry McCormack / The Tennessean - USA TODAY Sports Images
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea has hired two more staff members, with former NFL wide receiver Earl Bennett as director of player development at his alma mater and Kaelene Curry director of mental performance.

Bennett was inducted into the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. He played three seasons at Vanderbilt and left as the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leader in career receptions. Bennett was the 70th overall pick in the 2008 draft by Chicago and caught 185 passes for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns in five seasons.

He still has the SEC record for most TD catches in a single game with five against Kentucky in 2005. Bennett earned both a bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt and a master’s in education.

A licensed professional counselor in Colorado, Curry has been a mental performance coach, speaker and consultant for the Selking Performance Group the past six years. She also was a mental health counselor with Green Couch Counseling and an adjunct professor for the sport and performance psychology graduate program at Denver University.

Curry was an assistant softball coach at Northern Colorado in 2016 before moving to the counseling center from 2017-19. She was a softball assistant coach and recruiting and camp coordinator at Sonoma State in 2014-15. She played softball at Missouri-Kansas City.

Lea also hired North Dakota State’s AJ Blazek as his new offensive line coach and John Egorugwu from the NFL’s Buffalo Bills as his linebackers coach.

Blazek spent the past two years at North Dakota State, where his offensive line helped set a school record with 4,601 yards rushing while winning the 2019 FCS national title. He was offensive line coach at Rutgers between 2016-18 and was the line coach and run game coordinator for Western Illinois from 2013-15.

Blazek coached the offensive line and tight ends at Winona State between 2009-12 and was co-offensive coordinator his final three seasons. He was offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Fort Hays State between 2005-08. He started coaching at his alma mater, Iowa, from 2001-04.

Egorugwu was defensive quality control coach and assistant linebackers coach with the Bills the past four seasons. He was a staff assistant with the Baltimore Ravens in 2015 and 2016, working mostly with linebackers.

He started coaching at his alma mater, William Jewell, working with linebackers in 2010 and 2011. He was a graduate assistant at Missouri working with the defense in 2012 and offense in 2013 and 2014. He was wide receivers coach in 2015 at Missouri State.

Lea wrapped up his first staff by hiring LaMar Morgan as cornerbacks coach.

Morgan started his coaching career in 2012 as a graduate assistant at Vanderbilt, helping the Commodores go 9-4 in back-to-back seasons with two bowl berths.

He spent the past two seasons coaching cornerbacks at his alma mater, Louisiana Lafayette. He helped the Ragin’ Cajuns go 10-1 last season. Morgan was safeties coach with Houston in 2018 and spent 2016-17 as defensive backs coach at Louisiana Monroe.

Morgan coached defensive backs at Western Carolina in 2014 and 2015. He was a two-time captain and safety at Louisiana Lafayette.