Former Lumberjack Frank Pollack Adds to NAUs NFL Coaching Cradle
Former NAU All-American Frank Pollack is no stranger to the NFL. He played in the league for seven years and is in his third season on the staff of the Houston Texans. When looking to start his coaching career, Pollack served on the staff of his alma mater in 2005-06.
Pollack was the co-offensive line coach in 2005 working specifically with the tackles and tight ends. He was promoted to the offensive line coach in 2006 when the Lumberjacks produced the Big Sky Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year Alex Henderson. The Northern Arizona offense led the conference in scoring (34.4) and passing (267.2) and finished second in rushing (137.9). Their points-per-game were fourth in Division I-AA.
"I have a lot of good memories," said Pollack. "Obviously being back at my alma mater was a lot of fun. I enjoyed working with the kids there. We had a good group of kids. I loved working with the staff and Coach Souers. He let me break my teeth, if you will, in this business."
A sixth-round selection by the San Francisco 49ers in 1990, he played in San Francisco from 1990-91 before moving to Denver, where he played from 1992-93 before ending his career with the 49ers from 1994-98. He finished his career with 90 games played and one Super Bowl championship with San Francisco in 1994.
Pollack works closely with offensive line coach John Benton and assistant head coach Alex Gibbs to mold the Texans' front five. In 2008, the Texans averaged a franchise-record 4.27 yards-per-carry a year after mustering only 3.8 yards-per-carry. The Texans had the fourth-ranked passing attack in the league with a team-record 4,267 yards, allowing only 32 sacks. The offensive line also paved the way for the league's 13th-best rushing attack with 115.4 yards-per-game.
"I like it a lot," said Pollack.
"It is exciting to coach at the highest level. Coaching is coaching
no matter what level you are, but it is neat to be part of the
league and the Houston Texans."
Pollack is learning everyday in his position with the Texans.
"I love being at a place where I am constantly challenged and learning more football everyday in all aspects," said Pollack. "I am working with some great guys in John Benton, our offensive line coach, and our assistant head coach Alex Gibbs, who is one of the more famous NFL offensive line coaches. Working alongside both of those guys has been extremely instrumental in my development personally for my career. I am learning a ton of ball from them."
As a seven-year veteran and Super Bowl champion, Pollack brings an experienced perspective to his role with the Texans. But he sees a difference in the NFL from his days as a player.
"The teams in general are younger," said Pollack. "You don't have teams with a lot of older, established veterans for one reason or the other with the salary cap and the way the game has evolved. You have a lot younger nucleus. You don't have the grizzled vets that were the majority of the team. You as a coach have to bring and teach these guys what it means to be a pro. As opposed to when I came in a rookie with the 49ers, it was well established with veterans, a pro’s pro everywhere across the roster. You learned real quick what that meant and what you had to do."
With his elevation to the NFL coaching ranks, Pollack has joined a proud group of alumni of former coaches who roam the NFL sidelines with connections to NAU.
"It is exciting for me," said Pollack. "Maybe I make a bigger deal out of it than it is. Some of these guys are from the USC’s of the world or the University of Miami’s, the big powerhouse schools. But this little school Northern Arizona seems to be, what I like to say, the coaching cradle west of the Mississippi. It is pretty neat to see."
Pollack played with three players at NAU that are coaching in the NFL, including Darrell Bevell (Minnesota), Derek Mason (Minnesota) and Brian Stewart (Philadelphia). He was blessed with the opportunity to be coached by four future NFL head coaches during his tenure in Flagstaff, including Bill Callahan, Brad Childress, Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid. Childress is the head coach of the Vikings, while Reid leads the Eagles. Callahan (Jets) and Mornhinweg (Eagles) are currently assistants in the league.
"It is one of the things that I loved as a player walking across the field and seeing a guy from the other team that played for NAU," said Pollack, who is also a member of the Texans staff with NAU Hall of Famer Chick Harris. "Now I am really enjoying it just as much as a coach seeing other coaches out there."
Pollack, who attended Greenway High School in Phoenix, will be on the sideline at University of Phoenix Stadium on Oct. 10 when the Texans visit the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals came to Arizona during Pollack's junior year at NAU from St. Louis.
"It is neat to come home to your hometown and be part such a big deal coaching in the NFL and playing against, for a lack of a better term, my hometown team," said Pollack.
By Steven Shaff, NAU Media Relations