Everything you need to know about the Lafayette Football Class of 2019
Defense got the better of the offense on Saturday
Tavani tabs former New Hampshire linebackers coach and University of Florida player to head defense
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In his first year implementing the 4-2-5, Lafayette had two All-Patriot League selections and the unit finished second in the conference in scoring and passing defense and eighth in the nation in third-down defense (29.6%). In 2015, the Leopards’ defense will be the strength of the team, as eight starters return including all four in the secondary.
Link previously served as the linebackers coach at the University of New Hampshire from 2012-13, helping guide the 2013 Wildcats to their first ever appearance in the FCS National Semifinal and their 10th straight berth in the FCS Playoffs under head coach Sean McDonnell. New Hampshire managed victories over Lafayette, Maine and Southeastern Louisiana before losing to eventual national champion North Dakota State.
At UNH, Link oversaw the development of Akil Anderson and Shane McNeely, who finished the 2013 season with 124 and 120 tackles, respectively. The UNH defense improved from 26 sacks in 2012 to 43 in 2013, ranking fifth in the nation and first in the Colonial Athletic Association. New Hampshire’s defense was 15th in the nation in scoring defense (21.2 points per game), 22nd nationally in tackles for loss and led the CAA in turnover margin (+5).
In 2012, Link guided Matt Evans and Alan Buzbee in the middle of the Wildcats’ 4-2-5 defense. Evans concluded his career as UNH’s all-time leader with 460 tackles, including a team-leading 126 stops (No. 2 in CAA) in his final collegiate season. Buzbee ranked third on the team with 69 tackles, including a pair of interceptions.
While at New Hampshire, he also oversaw the kickoff coverage unit. In terms of recruiting, Link was responsible for Philadelphia, Lancaster, Western Pennsylvania and North Central Florida.
Link’s time at New Hampshire followed five seasons (2007-11) as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Campbell University (Buies Creek, N.C.) under head coach Dale Steele. Under his tutelage, the Camels ranked fifth in FCS with 18 interceptions, 13th nationally with 28 forced turnovers and No. 31 in the country in red zone defense during the 2011 campaign while playing in the Pioneer League.
Link, who was responsible for recruiting the Carolinas, Florida and Texas junior colleges, also coordinated Campbell’s punt return unit as part of special teams’ coaching responsibilities to his responsibilities.
Prior to coaching at Campbell, Link served as defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. for head coach Dave Dunn. Link turned around a squad that posted the worst defensive season in school history (2005), molding the unit into the school’s best defense in history the very next year. He added special teams duties, focusing on punt team and kickoff coverage.
Link served as a graduate assistant at the University of Florida, his alma mater, for two seasons (2004-05) under head coaches Ron Zook and Urban Meyer. He was responsible for outside LBs, conducted scout team preparation, aided opponent breakdown efforts and assisted in the recruiting process.
In 2003, he spent the season as the defensive line coach for head coach Rick Swain at Boca Raton (Fla.) High School. He also worked for head coach Howard Schnellenberger as an intern at Florida Atlantic University in video operations and as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
His first coaching job was as a linebacker coach at Division II Missouri Western State College for head coach Jerry Partridge.
During his playing days at Florida for head coach Steve Spurrier, Link was a linebacker on the National Championship and SEC Championship teams in the 1996-97 season while also playing for defensive coordinator Bob Stoops. He received the Fifth-Year Senior Award in 1998. He was part of teams that played in the Orange Bowl (1999), Citrus Bowl (1998) and Sugar Bowl (1997).
He earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science in 1999 and received his master’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science from Florida in 2006.
Link is a native of Gainesville, Fla. He and his wife, Megan, have a son, Ryan, and daughter, Ava.
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