Penn football assistant coach Ray Priore's priorities in life aren't nearly as complicated as coordinating Penn's defense.
Family and football is what Priore is about. And it was his family who actually got him started in the sport when he was seven years old.
"We were a very football-oriented family," Priore said, "and I followed in my older brother's footsteps of playing the sport."
But he was far from a one-sport athlete growing up.
"In high school, I played four sports," Priore said. "I played football in the fall, I wrestled and played hockey at the same time [in the winter] and I played baseball in the springtime."
But Priore's greatest successes came in football. And the native of Long Beach, N.Y., had the best moment of his playing career in the fall of 1977.
"My senior year in high school, our program won the Long Island, New York Championship of our division," Priore said. "That was pretty memorable, playing at Hofstra University in front of a few thousand people."
Upon graduation, Priore matriculated at the State University of New York-Albany, where he decided to make football the center of his athletic life.
"Doing more than one sport in college wasn't going to be the best opportunity," Priore said, "and football was the one sport that I really did excel in, more so than the others."
Priore continued to excel in college as a three-year starter in Albany's defensive backfield, and even captained the team when he was a senior.
After graduating from Albany with a bachelor's degree in business education in 1985, Priore had to make a decision about what to do next.
"My friends were all looking to go down to Manhattan and work somewhere on Wall Street," Priore said. "That wasn't something that would fit well with me."
Priore chose instead to stay at Albany and earn a master's degree in his undergraduate field. At the same time, he helped out his alma mater as a coach.
"I did a graduate assistantship at the University at Albany where basically it was one of the bigger coaching programs in the country," Priore said. "There were somewhere between 80 and 90 college and high school coaches out there that are currently at all different levels, even the NFL.
"And being around that, and after two years of doing graduate work and helping out as a coach, I decided to give it a shot and make this a career."
Priore was picked up by Penn in 1987, and was the defensive coordinator of the freshman team in his first season as a part of the Quakers coaching staff. And in 2000, he moved up to take that same position on the varsity team.
"I'm now up to my 14th season and have worked my way up the food chain a little bit," Priore said. "The kids respect the fact of where I started and what it takes to reach some of your goals."
And in his first year as the varsity team's defensive coordinator last season, Priore helped Penn reach its goal of recapturing the Ivy League title after a one-year hiatus from the top.
"Last season was the epitome of passion and great wins," Priore said. "Looking at the Harvard and Brown games, these were situations where people had us without a shot at winning and coming back, and we just posted a great victory in the end."
Priore -- an avid golfer and fan of water sports -- has seen a lot in both his playing and coaching careers, including differences between the two.
"As a coach, you look at things from a very analytical point of view," Priore said. "You don't get as emotionally involved with it. You have to sit back, be under control and look at things from a television perspective, a total picture.
"As a player, you really focus on your position, mastering your technique and what you do within the scheme."
However, there are similarities, as Priore's fire for the game has not been lost over the past 15 years.
"I played with a lot of emotion, excitement, hustle and enthusiasm," Priore said. "As a coach, I try to bring that out in my players -- a little bit of my personality to the program."
Off the field, Priore's thoughts and responsibilities are with his family in Mt. Laurel, N.J.
"I have a five-year-old daughter [Jenna] who [my wife Debbie and I] spend a lot of time at the pool with," Priore said. "Basically spending time with family is the most important thing because football takes a lot out of that during the season and everything else."
And Priore -- like Don Corleone -- knows that a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.Comments powered by Disqus
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