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Former NFL fullback Ronnie Ghent grew up just down the road from Southeastern University, where he is currently completing his coaching internship. In addition to previously coaching at the high school and collegiate level, Ghent spent eight months in London teaching English students American football.  At Southeastern, Ghent is hands on with the tight ends and half backs. However, he’s gained the opportunity to experience a variety of coaching roles. 

NFLPA Coaching Internship Lands Former NFL Fullback Ronnie Ghent at Southeastern University

Networking is everything and word of mouth is always the best form of advertising. A previous Locker Room event presented Ghent with a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break into coaching with our unique program.

“One of my former teammates who participated in the NFLPA Coaching Internship told me about it last year at a Locker Room event. He told me about his experience and some of the things he was able to do. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to move forward as a coach so I made it my business to participate this year.”

Suiting up often means putting on your team uniform and gear, but for Ghent’s first day at Southeastern University, the head coach held no qualms about getting straight to business.

“I have been here for three weeks, and on the first day I wanted to go out and do the best I could. Whether it is the players or the coaches, I want to impact as many people as I can.  I was waiting on paperwork to go through so I was still in interview mode. I showed up in a suit, and once I finished up the final paperwork, I went straight to work. He [The coach] put me to work right away, even in my dress clothes.”

More than your typical internship, Ghent learned on and off field skills as a coach with Fire Football squad.

“My position group is the tight ends and half backs so I am doing tight end, half back and full back type of stuff. I’m helping out with the special teams on both sides. As the scout team man on each special teams, I have a certain group I am in charge of. Off the field, I’ve been involved in recruiting and game planning. We were scouting an opponent this weekend, so I got a chance to do that. I’ve been taking part in coaching full circle. Everything you can ask for and more.”

Of course, every coach has projections and desires for the upcoming season. The players at Southeastern are no exception. What is the former Eagle looking forward to this season?

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the field. When you retire, you miss [the game] a whole lot more than you think.  I think the kids see the fire and desire I bring as a coach, because I played the same way. [I’m also looking forward to] being able to come out of the tunnel with the kids and see how you’ve taught them.”

“As a team, we are looking forward to the first home game of the season. As of right now we are undefeated at home, and we want to keep it that way. That’s a big step for the program as far as trying to get ranked and be where we want to be.”

"Go in with a humble mindset and put your best foot forward."

Ghent divulges urgent advice for any former player considering making the transition to coaching.

"Don’t wait. Do it right away. While you’re playing, make sure everything is complete as far as your degree. That way when you’re done playing you have no limitations. It is easier to go when you are fresh out. Try and do something with the team you are currently playing with or go back to your college or high school. Just jump in right away and don’t wait. You probably have more of an opportunity if you don’t wait because your name is out there, you still have that logo on your back and a lot of people will remember you.

I’m thankful for the opportunity. I’m thankful for the NFLPA, for Southeastern University and all of the people who are behind the scenes and making this opportunity available. I think it is going to help a lot of guys more than they think. If take the initiative and actually take advantage of it I think it will lead to great things. Go in with a humble mindset and put your best foot forward.

If your dream is to become a coach then this is the kind of program that can really start it off. “

Most athletes have one memorable coach whose work and dedication transformed their life. Coaching is an opportunity to build those relationships with younger players and assist in their personal growth and development. 

“I enjoy being around the kids. Being around the young men and teaching them football and not just football but about life as well. I’ve had a chance to see and do a lot of things, and I have a nine year old myself so I am a father. I consider myself to be a well-rounded coach to not only be there for them on the football side of things but also in their life.

I have a tight end now that he’s a true freshman, and I’ve watched him grow week by week. We had a scrimmage against another team last week, and I’m watching him grow up and become a man right before my eyes. It’s the greatest feeling ever.”

Now that’s paying it forward.

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The NFL Players Association Coaching Internship is a partnership between the NFL Players Association and the American Football Coaches Association. The program aims to provide opportunities for former professional football players to gain coaching experience. After an application process, selected individuals serve as coaching interns at Division II, Division III, and NAIA universities for an entire football season.

Ronnie Ghent is a former fullback who attended the University of Louisville before being signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. Ghent played five seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints.