PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — During the course of the 1994 high school football season when Massena Central made its unprecedented push to the semifinals of the New York State playoffs, defensive coordinator Al Nicola noted after one of the Raiders' postseason wins that senior linebacker Kory David was "like having a coach out there on the field."
Seventeen years later, those leadership qualities have been recognized by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
"It's a dream come true and I'm going to do everything I can to take advantage of this opportunity," said David, who was hired as a coaches assistant by the Eagles on March 7 and showed up for his first day of work two days later.
"When they called me to offer me the job, it was just an unbelievable moment in my life. I took a deep breath and just thought, this is what I want to do," he added.
David called being a coaches assistant "a mentoring position" where he is being introduced to all the aspects of coaching professional football.
"My supervisors are the defensive coordinator, the offensive coordinator and the special teams coordinator and head coach Andy Reid is my boss," he said. "I'm going into work every day and I'm like a sponge, absorbing as much as I can."
After graduating from Massena Central in 1995, the 34-year-old son of Chuck and Jennifer David of Hogansburg has devoted a good part of his life to football. He attempted to start his collegiate career at the University of Albany but was red-shirted his freshman season and left after one semester.
A transfer to SUNY Cortland proved to be the right move. He enjoyed a successful four-year career playing inside linebacker for the Red Dragons from 1996-1999, serving as team captain his junior and senior seasons. David graduated with a degree in physical education in 2000 and began honing his coaching skills soon afterward when he was hired by the school to serve as an assistant for the football program. He coached linebackers and safeties at Cortland and served as Cortland's co-defensive, special teams and strength and conditioning coordinator over the course of his eight years there.
In 2008, David was hired as a linebacker coach at Dickinson College which is located in Carlisle, Pa., where he also worked as assistant men's lacrosse coach.
While at Dickinson, David, who is a full-blooded Mohawk descendant, participated in what is now called The Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship, an intern program that allows promising candidates to get a first-hand glimpse of what it takes to coach in the NFL.
The program was introduced by the NFL coaching legend in 1987 when he brought in a group of potential coaches to a training camp for the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, every team in the NFL has adopted the program and more than 1,300 minority coaches have been welcomed to training camps. Among the current NFL head coaches who successfully graduated from the program are Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears, Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals and Raheem Morris of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I had a long lost dream of playing in the NFL. After I got my physical education degree at Cortland, I got interested in teaching and coaching but always saw myself leaning more toward the coaching side," said David, who was among a record 96 coaching hopefuls invited to NFL camps last summer.
At the Eagles' camp, David worked with Philadelphia's defensive backs at the Lehigh University facility. He began the camp by working with the secondary under defensive backs coach Dick Jauron, a former NFL head coach, and assistant defensive backs coach Mike Zordich, a former NFL safety. He also worked with linebackers. David's work ethic caught the attention of the Eagles' staff, including Reid.
"It was a great experience but I had no idea that the Eagles would be getting back to me so quickly. They called to see if I could come down for an interview on Monday (March 7) and before I left, they offered me the job," David said. "Coach Reid was doing the interview and I asked him what it was that I did during my internship that they noticed the most. He told me that coaching is a grind. You wake up, work all day, then get up the next day and do it all over again. And that's just what I did the whole time I was there."
"It's definitely a big jump. It's almost unheard of that someone goes from Division III college football to the NFL," he added. "It's just an honor to have the Eagles reach out to me and give me this job."