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'Roads Scholar' Locklin Has Found a Home

There are many in the NFL coaching fraternity that have made more stops than Kerry Locklin. But the Jets' defensive line coach is still a candidate for the Luggage Stickers semifinals.

Locklin has coached in all four time zones in the continental United States: Pacific (Fresno State), Mountain (Western New Mexico, Utah), Central (Shreveport in the CFL) and Eastern (Morehead State, Eastern Michigan).

He's been involved with three pro leagues: the NFL as a player (Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos), the USFL as a player (Arizona Wranglers) and the CFL (Shreveport again for one year).

Locklin has what you'd call experience.

"It's been a road well-traveled," he told * *recently, "and a road that's allowed me to work with some great coaches and some great athletes. You can put that in your résumé or your repertoire of learning experiences. It helps you build a good foundation."

And meet some pretty good architects along the way. For instance, Locklin and Jets head coach Rex Ryan coached together for four seasons at Morehead State, from 1990-93. The two stayed in touch over the ensuing years.

"One of my players out of Eastern Michigan, defensive tackle Lional Dalton, played for Rex. He won a Super Bowl with the Ravens [in 2000]," Locklin said. "He called me one year about Alan Harper, who played for me at Fresno State and played for the Jets.

"So we've talked off and on over the past few years. We kind of knew where each other was."

And that's another part of coaching, in the NFL, in football, in all sports: networking. Rex came to the Jets and needed a D-line coach. He called up Locklin again. And Kerry joins a bunch of other coaches, some who were here and some who arrived after the new year, to make up a really quite multitalented staff.

"It's an unbelievable staff," Locklin said. "It's a very closeknit group that works together. There's no egos at all. Everybody is so down-to-earth, very helpful, very resourceful, both offensively and defensively.

"And by traveling all over the country, you get to see all different types of staffs. So you get the chance to really understand that this is a good one, this is mediocre, this is a bad one. You get a chance to understand what you're looking for and the importance of having a good staff. It's a team concept, where people are pulling for each other and it's not just about individualism."

More than just his fellow coaches in the adjacent offices on the first floor of the Atlantic Health Training Center, Locklin likes the players he's inherited, such as the Jets front line from last year: Pro Bowl nose tackle Kris Jenkins and ends Shaun Ellis and Kenyon Coleman.

"I feel I've got some good players — I've got some damn good players," he said. "And I'm excited about working with them."

So Locklin, who once played under NFL head coaches such as Dan Reeves (Broncos), Ray Malavasi (Rams) and George Allen (for the USFL's Wranglers) and coached with Pro Football Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg for those Shreveport Pirates, seems ready to end his travelin' days for a while and settle down in the "Far East" of New Jersey — as soon as he finds himself a home.

"I'm still looking, I'm still searching. The housing market is good for buyers but at the same time it's very volatile," he said. "From what I've seen of New Jersey, it's not bad. I've seen these four walls here the majority of the time. Hopefully on the weekends I can slide out, ride around and observe some things."

And from what he's seen of the Jets, he said, "It's a good team. It's a good situation to come into."

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