Riders’ DB coach Richard Kent hired by ELF’s Leipzig Kings as defensive coordinator

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

A member of the Saskatchewan Roughrider’s coaching staff is leaving Regina for a much more exotic destination.

Defensive backs coach Richard Kent has been hired as the defensive coordinator for the Leipzig Kings of the European League of Football, the club announced this week. Kent will serve under head coach Fred Armstrong, formerly of the New York Jets and Giants.,

Launched in 2021, the ELF has sold itself as the first professional-style football on the continent since the fall of NFL Europe. It has expanded to 12 teams for a 2022 season set to kick-off in June, with clubs located in Germany, Poland, Spain, Austria and Turkey.

Kent first joined the Riders in 2013 as the defensive backs coach. That season, the Riders led the league in nine defensive categories including takeaways, interceptions and fewest passing touchdowns allowed, eventually winning the 101st Grey Cup.

Kent returned to the team in 2019 in the same capacity. In 2021, he coached Nick Marshall to a West Division All-Star nod at corner. However, the Riders’ defence allowed the most passing yards per game and second most passing touchdowns of any team in the CFL.

This will not be Kent’s first foray into European coaching, as he spent nine seasons in the now-defunct NFL Europe with the Scottish Claymores (1999-2001), Berlin Thunder (2002-03), Cologne Centurions (2004), and Amsterdam Admirals (2005-2007). He won two World Bowls in 2002 and 2005, while also assisting the NFL in international scouting.

Both the Thunder and Centurions have since been revived as ELF franchises.

In the CFL, Kent has also had brief stints with the Toronto Argonauts (2009) and Montreal Alouettes (2010). The Asheville, North Carolina native spent 15 years coaching in the US college ranks before making the jump to professional football.

Kent will not be the first former CFL coach to find employ in the ELF. Last season, legendary coach and GM Adam Rita served as head coach of the Barcelona Dragons, while former CFL head coaches Joe Paopao and Ron Smeltzer served on his staff.

Smeltzer and Paopao left before the end of the season and Rita was not retained, recently signing on with Italy’s Catania Elephants.

Editor’s note: A previous edition of this article stated that Kent was the longest serving current Riders’ coach, having spent nine seasons with the club. This was an error in his official team bio and the article has been updated for accuracy.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.