Ex-Knox QB makes the NFL

Monken on Jaguars coaching staff

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

GALESBURG - How does a former Knox College quarterback end up on the coaching staff of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars?

According to Todd Monken, who still holds a few Knox passing records from 1988, winning sure helps.

"Winning and coaching good players leads to good things," said Monken, hired to head coach Jack Del Rio's staff as wide receivers coach in February.

"I was fortunate at LSU to coach some very good players; we were successful and won some big games and had some players looked at in the draft;" said Monken. "Sometimes people will look at who is coaching them."

An interview during the Senior Bowl clinched the pro job and took the former Knox QB to the NFL after coaching stops as an assistant at Grand Valley State, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma State and Louisiana State. Monken contributed to highly regarded passing attacks at nearly all those schools. News reports listed him as a candidate for the head coaching job at Louisiana Tech before he took the Jaguars job.

The son of a high school coach, Monken, earned Pizza Hut Little All-American honors at Knox in 1988 with a season that included a record 23 touchdown passes, a record single season completion percentage of .609 (218-358) and a record single game performance of attempts and completions in a 41-for-65 effort against Illinois College.

"I enjoyed playing there, I really did," said Monken, who lists as a highlight the people he grew to know at Knox.

"Coach (Randy) Oberembt, Randy Kruger, John Rosene, Tim Heimann and Harley Knosher - I know there are people I'm leaving out - but it was a fun time. Coach Oberembt was more than a coach to me - he opened up his home to me to come over and study a couple of times a week.

"I knew I wasn't talented enough to keep playing but I enjoyed being around the competition and the people," said Monken.

"To say I had a goal of one day reaching the NFL was far fetched."

But 17 years at seven colleges earned his opportunity. Along the way he coached players like LSU receivers Skyler Green, Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis and at Oklahoma State worked with NFL first round pick Rashaun Woods.

"It probably wasn't until I reached the level of Oklahoma State - and I consider Eastern Michigan and Louisiana Tech a high level - that I could make a coaching career at a high level," said Monken. "But I would say it was the second year at Oklahoma State (2003) and we went to the Cotton Bowl that I knew there would be other opportunities. Then at LSU, we had a chance to win it all."

The Jaguars posted a 12-4 record in 2006 under Del Rio after his first two teams in Jacksonville went 5-11 and 9-7. The team's playoff appearance was its first in five years. The staff includes quarterbacks coach Mike Shula and Mike Tice, former Minnesota Vikings coach, who is assistant head coach for offense.

With the NFL draft approaching this weekend, Monken is trying to adjust to a new level of competition.

"We don't have the recruiting," he noted. "In college, there's always one more letter to write, one more text message to send or call to make.

"Now, that's not even on my mind.

"It's a pretty easy time right now," he added. "The real test will come with adversity."

Monken knew when he accepted the job, that adversity will come - as it always does in the pros - but he signed on anyway.

"The safe thing would have been to stay at LSU," said Monken. "But without risk, there's no reward.

"And the risk was worth it."


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