Brunswick – When Jordan Stevens was hired as the University of Maine’s football coach in December, how long did he wait to talk to Jack Cosgrove, his mentor and coach when Stevens played for the Black Bears?
“Minutes,” Stevens said. “He was really cool. He means a lot to me. The relationship is so strong. We talk almost every week. I can’t thank him enough for his support.”
Cosgrove, now in his fifth season as a coach at Colby College after retiring from 23 years as Maine’s head coach after the 2015 season, admits he pretended to be surprised when he got Stevens’ call.
“I pretended I didn’t know he had the job when he called. But I knew. I felt so good about him,” Cosgrove said. “I was pulling for him. I was campaigning for Jordan. There were a number of guys I thought they could have, but Jordan was at the top of the list.”
Dozens of former Cosgrove players have moved into coaching ranks. He believes Stevens is the first to become a head coach in Division I.
Stevens played for Cosgrove in Maine from 2006-09, serving as the team captain during a major season in which he was awarded the Colonial Athletic’s Association Third Team Honors as a defensive end. On Monday, the old coach and his player were part of Bowdoin College’s annual Maine football kickoff luncheon.
Stevens and the Black Bears begin pre-season camp Thursday, with the opening game set for September 3 at the University of New Mexico. Cosgrove and the Moles open camp later this month, opening the season on September 17 at home against Williams.
After a four-year playing career in which Stevens began three seasons as a quarterback and defensive end for the Black Bears, he tried his hand as a professional, attending a junior junior camp with the Detroit Lions. In 2011, Stevens joined the Cosgrove team as what Cosgrove called “a young, underpaid assistant.”
“He had a real skill in assessing talent. He was without a doubt one of our best recruits. Someone who played this defensive position and mastered the techniques and fundamentals and was a great teacher,” Cosgrove said.
Stevens first met Cosgrove attending football camps in Maine as a high school player at Blue Mountain in Farmington. The Temple native wanted to play Division I football, but after graduating from Blue Mountain in 2005, he simply wasn’t ready.
Stevens went to Bridgeton Academy for a year after graduation, and this is where he caught the attention of Cosgrove and then defensive coordinator Rich Nagy. The coaches offered him a scholarship on the spot after watching a workout in December 2005, shortly after Bridgeton’s season ended.
“It wasn’t just his abilities. We were really sold as a young man, by his values and work ethic. And it all proved to be true. There’s not a lot you had to do to get Jordan excited about the game,” Cosgrove said. .
As a player, Stevens clicked with Cosgrove on the spot.
“I felt a resemblance to the coaches I grew up with. (Cosgrove) demanded similar things. I felt like I had always done well under his discipline because a lot of the things he was looking for were things I think I embody. Hardiness, hard work, and discipline,” Stevens said. “.
“I’ve always appreciated his honesty and willingness to pull me aside. It’s something that, at that age, was really touching, to be supported by your coach in that way.”
After four seasons as an assistant at Maine, Stevens transferred to Yale University in 2016. Last season, he was the joint defense coordinator at Yale University.
As a coach, Stevens tries to emulate Cosgrove’s consistency, energy, and attention to detail.
“He’s very organized. I’ve been sitting next to him at staff meetings. I sat there for four years. I saw all his notes, how he was holding the pen, how he did everything. How he took notes and how he ran the meeting. I had a front row seat,” Stevens said.
As president of the NFC’s Howard Vandersea Maine, it was Cosgrove’s responsibility to deliver a welcome statement at Monday’s lunch. It started with a special welcome to the new head coaches at the table, Matt Quinn of Bates and Stevens. As he spoke, Cosgrove turned to his left and looked Stevens in the eye.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Cosgrove said.
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