This week, ITL’s Danny Shimon compiled a list of the Directors of Player Personnel or Directors of Football Operations at all FBS schools. We’ve never compiled such a list before. We did this because, most often, these are the coaches that are working with scouts when they come through, and usually the point men for coordinating pro days. In other words, these are valuable positions for young men aiming to build a network of NFL contacts that they can parlay into a job in the league.
We did this as a service to the scouts and agents who are ITL clients, of course, but also to take a look at the people who fill these positions. How do they get there? Where did they come from? What are their credentials?
Here are a few observations.
- We counted only eight former NFL scouts holding these jobs. They are Bobby Merritt (Houston), James Kirkland (Illinois), Marcus Hendrickson (Minnesota), Matt Lindsey (South Carolina), Dave Boller (Louisville), Bob Welton (Tennessee), Dennis Polian (Texas A&M) and Bill Rees (Wake Forest). Paul Skansi also held a voluntary personnel role with the University of Washington this season, but he was recently hired by the Redskins.
- This number is relatively, low which is surprising because as teams build out their staffs with more personnel and recruiting specialists, there’s a perception that dozens of NFL professionals have filled those roles as they wait to get back into the league. Not so.
- Though we don’t have hard numbers, these jobs are held mostly by people under 40. There are no ex-head coaches holding these positions and no ex-NFL executives. It’s mostly area scouts in these roles.
- Most of these positions require plenty of non-personnel duties like helping with administration, recruiting, and even fundraising. So former scouts looking to grab these jobs need to know it’s not as simple as serving as a team’s advance scout and watching film on next Saturday’s opponent, or catching up with old friends as they cycle through the team offices.
- Unlike a lot of positions in college and pro football, these seem to be legitimate jobs that require total effort. One thing you don’t see much of in this list is last names that are common with the head coach or some other prominent football name. People in these positions have to have game. They gotta be locked in and hard-working.
- Reading the bios, many have traveled with the head coach to multiple stops, indicating that they’ve proven themselves. Again, these aren’t blow-off jobs. They may not have the glamor of other positions, but people who don’t perform aren’t kept around.
- These positions do seem to be populated by those who worked their way up. In other words, they worked in the football office as an undergrad, then took some low-paying job/volunteer position before landing in personnel.
We get dozens of questions about how to land NFL jobs. Well, before you land that NFL scouting assistant position, you might have to land a college job. Hopefully, you can find something in the above points that gives you a little guidance.