Redblacks unveil 2021 coaching and football operations staff

The Ottawa Redblacks have made final decisions regarding its front office personnel and coaching staff for the 2021 season.

General manager Marcel Desjardins and head coach Paul LaPolice along with his coaching staff will return in 2021. The entire football operations staff will also be coming back for the upcoming season.

“I’m happy to announce that Marcel will be back for his seventh season next year. He was the architect of three Grey Cup appearances in four years and of Ottawa’s first Grey Cup victory in 40 years,” OSEG CEO Mark Goudie said.

“I love Marcel’s hiring of Paul as the second head coach in Redblacks’ history and the coaching staff that Paul has been able to assemble. We are proud that all of our coaches and football operations personnel have remained intact through what has been a difficult year and will be back to bring RNation entertaining, winning football in 2021.”

As the only GM in Redblacks history, Desjardins will be returning for his eighth year with Ottawa, while LaPolice, who was hired following the 2019 season, will be looking forward to stepping onto the field for his first game leading the home team at TD Place.

“We are happy and grateful that the majority of the Redblacks’ staff will be returning in 2021. Despite an overall reduction in compensation available, everyone sacrificed to ensure continuity on the staff,” Desjardins said.

“This speaks to the type of people they are but also speaks to their belief in the unfulfilled potential for the 2020 season and how that will positively translate to the 2021 season. It also says a lot about their trust in our ownership group, the leadership of OSEG as well as their appreciation for their work environment and the City of Ottawa.”

Along with Desjardins and LaPolice, returning in 2021 are the following coaches:

Mike Benevides – defensive coordinator: With three Grey Cup (2001, 2006 & 2011) wins under his belt, Coach Benevides will have the task of making sure the Redblacks are tough to score points against in 2021.

Bob Dyce – special teams coordinator: The man at the helm of one of the deadliest special teams’ units of the last few years is back in 2021. Dyce started with the Redblacks in 2016 and helped the club to a first-ever Grey Cup championship.

Bob Wylie – offensive line coach: Wylie has worked for six Division I schools, two CFL teams, and eight NFL organizations. Most recently, he was the o-line coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2017-2018 after serving in the same role with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 2014-2016.

Steve Walsh – quarterbacks coach: Prior to his coaching career, Walsh played 11 seasons in the NFL while recording 713 completions in 1,317 pass attempts for 7,875 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Alex Suber – receivers coach: The Florida native joined coach LaPolice’s staff in 2020 with coaching experience on both sides of the ball after a five-year career as a CFL player.

Charlie Eger – running backs coach: Eger arrives in Ottawa with extensive coaching experience at the collegiate level, most recently serving as the interim offensive coordinator at Clarion University.

Greg Knox – defensive backs coach: Knox arrives in Ottawa after many years of coaching at the Canadian university level, most recently serving as the defensive coordinator at the University of Alberta.

Carey Bailey – defensive line coach: Bailey made his Canadian debut in 2019 with the Toronto Argonauts as a defensive line coach. While coaching in the NCAA, Bailey spent time in the off-season as an intern with the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants.

Patrick Bourgon – linebackers coach: Bourgon was part of the Redblacks’ football operations staff from 2013 to 2015. He also previously helped the club as defensive assistant and offensive assistant.

The lone member of the coaching staff from the cancelled 2020 season not returning is Linebackers Coach Chris Tormey, who has decided to retire after a long career, including five years in the CFL.

“It’s been an outstanding experience for everyone on our coaching staff to work with Chris Tormey this past season,” LaPolice said. “We wish him all the best in retirement.”

Moving up the coaching ranks to assume the role vacated by Tormey is Patrick Bourgon, who has served as an assistant coach with the Redblacks since 2016.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have Patrick on the staff and we’re excited to have him take over the linebackers spot with Coach Tormey’s retirement,” LaPolice said. “We think he’ll do an outstanding job with our players.”

Also back for another round are many of the unsung voices working hard behind the scenes:

Jeremy Snyder – assistant general manager: Jeremy Snyder joined the Redblacks in March 2013 as the Director, Football Administration and Pro/College Scout. After four years in that role, Synder was promoted to Assistant General Manager on May 11, 2017.

Jean-Marc Edmé – director of player personnel: Edmé joined the Redblacks in January 2016 as the Player Personnel Coordinator and on May 11, 2017 he was promoted to Director of Player Personnel. Edmé is extensively involved in the Redblacks’ collegiate and professional scouting efforts, and evaluates talent across United-States and Canada

Pier-Yves Lavergne – player personnel assistant: A former player for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and University of Montreal Carabins, Lavergne attended rookie camp with the Montreal Alouettes in 2014 and had a tryout with the Calgary Stampeders in 2015 before ultimately joining the REDBLACKS staff in the off-season.

Joey Swarbrick – coordinator of football operations: Swarbrick joined the Redblacks in September 2013 as a football operations assistant. In his current position, he is responsible for coordinating mini-camp, training camp, and team travel logistics, as well day-to-day operations in the Football Operations Department.

Adrien Bourdon – football operations assistant: Bourdon has been with the club since January 2018 and became an important part of the team very quickly. Prior to the REDBLACKS, Bourdon was the Manager of football analytics at l’Université de Sherbrooke for the 2016 season.

Philippe Moreau – football operations assistant: Moreau is a North Carolina State University graduate in Sports Management. He performed in various roles with amateur and professional football organizations before joining the Redblacks in 2018.

Colin Farquharson – video coordinator: Colin oversees all video operations for the REDBLACKS which includes filming, dubbing and editing all game and practice film. The video department is responsible for maintaining a video database of all future Redblacks player prospects by keeping a vast library of all NCAA, NFL, and U Sports game film up-to-date and available for the Scouting Department.

Braun Gheller – video assistant: Braun Gheller joined the REDBLACKS in April 2014, after spending two seasons with the Tiger-Cats as a video assistant, including a trip to Regina for the 101st Grey Cup. The Hamilton native has also worked with Sportsnet for four years. Gheller is an alumnus of Loyalist College with an advanced diploma in TV and a sports certificate in Sports Journalism.

Drew McCormick – equipment manager: McCormick has been with OSEG since 2015. He started with the organization as a sales intern and transitioned successfully to football operations. He recently got promoted to Equipment Manager after providing incredible quality services in the department for the past four years.

Nick Mercuri – strength & conditioning coordinator: Nick Mercuri joined the REDBLACKS in the spring of 2015 as an Assistant Athletic Therapist before being promoted to the role of Strength and Conditioning Coordinator following the 2016 season. Nick is also certified in Soft Tissue Release, Muscle Energy Technique and is a Sports First Responder.

Marie Claire Costaguta – athletic therapist: Before joining the Redblacks full-time in January 2020, Marie Claire was the Assistant Athletic Therapist at Carleton University from 2017 to last January. She was also Redblacks’ Assistant Athletic Therapist for the 2016 season.

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