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Reese’s Senior Bowl: Browns coach named defensive coordinator

Annual All-Star game played the weekend before the Super Bowl

The Reese’s Senior Bowl has been known for decades as the premier college football All-Star game. It is played in Mobile, Alabama, and is an NFL convention. Many coaches are interviewed and hired during Senior Bowl week because every NFL head coach, assistant coach, scouts, and many player personnel folks are in attendance.

In years past, the top AFC and NFC clubs that did not make the playoffs took their entire coaching staff and ran both squads, labeled as “North” and “South.” But that had complications as many coaches would be let go regardless of win-loss records.

The change was made to whichever clubs in both conferences had the most complete coaching staff intact. Then, both squads were renamed “American” and “National.” This was altered to even out the talent level for each roster. Maybe the SEC had something to do with this. It also helped if one squad was short of players at a certain position, and the game was able to bring in additional talent and not have to worry about geography.

Now, the game is used as a training ground for current NFL coaches. Guys who are coordinators with their respective team can be named the head coach of one of the Reese’s Senior Bowl rosters while position coaches are suddenly thrust into coordinator positions.

Browns’ safety coach Ephraim Banda has fallen into the latter category as he was named the defensive coordinator for the American squad.

Every NFL team relies heavily on the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Half of the first three rounds of last year’s NFL draft played in this prestigious game. Although the game itself is a scouting tool, the practice week is crucial to each player’s draft evaluation. Many players have accepted an invitation to this game, had an incredible practice week against some of the nation’s top talent at a competing position, and had his draft stock rise.

Browns QB Joe Flacco was slated for a late second-round grade when he played in the 2008 Senior Bowl. After a great week, plus being named the game’s MVP, Flacco was taken by the Baltimore Ravens with the 18th pick in the first round. His Senior Bowl practice week elevated his draft stock one full round. Last year, Browns OT Dawand Jones was at practice for one day only but was seen by countless scouts and coaches.

The American team coaching staff is Terrell Williams (head coach) who is the assistant head coach/DL coach of the Tennessee Titans, Troy Brown (OC), currently the WR and kick returner coach for the New England Patriots, Mike Adams (ST), who is the assistant special teams coach for the New York Football Giants, plus Banda.

The National team coaching staff is Jeff Ulbrich (head coach) who is the DC for the New York Jets, Giants QB coach Shea Tierney (OC), Daronte Jones (DC) the defensive pass game coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, and Phil Galiano (ST), who is currently works as the assistant special teams coach for the New Orleans Saints.

RELATED: EPHRAIM BANDA PROFILE

Banda has worked as a defensive coordinator before, just not at the NFL level. He was the co-defensive coordinator with the Miami Hurricanes from 2019-2020 and the DC at Utah State from 2021-2022 before he was hired by the Browns.

The alumni list of the Senior Bowl is a who’s who of NFL players and inductees of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dan Marino, Curtis Martin, Wilbur Marshall, Brett Favre, Michael Strahan, Cooper Kupp, Bo Jackson, Franco Harris, Von Miller, Jalen Hurts, LaDaninian Tomlinson, Jordan Love, Gene Hickerson, and Justin Herbert are just some of the greats that have graced the game’s playing field.

The Reese’s Senior Bowl is always slotted on the weekend between the AFC and NFC Championship Games and the Super Bowl. This year’s contest is February 3 with kickoff slated for noon (central). It will be broadcast on NFL Network. More information at this link.

To view this year’s rosters, click this link:

2024 SENIOR BOWL ACCEPTED INVITES