Lake gets first NFL coaching position
Carnell Lake might be the only football player in history who went from All-American college linebacker to NFL Pro Bowl safety to starting cornerback.
He will call on that unique perspective as the new secondary coach of the Steelers.
Coach Mike Tomlin, who interviewed Lake, 43, last week, hired him Monday to replace Ray Horton, who left to become defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. Lake will be reunited with his former secondary coach and defensive coordinator with the Steelers, Dick LeBeau.
A second-round draft choice of the Steelers in 1989 from UCLA, Lake converted to strong safety and made four Pro Bowls while playing 10 seasons for the Steelers. He voluntarily moved to cornerback when his friend, Rod Woodson, missed virtually all of the 1995 season with a torn ACL.
Cornerbacks on occasion move to safety, particularly later in their careers, which is what Woodson did after leaving the Steelers, playing free safety with the Raiders and Ravens. It is rare for a safety to move to cornerback, especially one of Lake's size -- he played at 6 feet 1, 213 pounds. That is an imposing size for a cornerback but Lake also had the speed to go with it and made the adjustment smoothly to help save the Steelers at that position.
Coincidentally, Lake and Woodson have landed their first NFL jobs as secondary coaches this season. Woodson will coach the defensive backs in Oakland.
After playing 10 seasons with the Steelers, Lake left as a free agent to play two seasons with Jacksonville and a final one with Baltimore in 2001. He made a fifth Pro Bowl in 1999 with the Jaguars and was named to the all-decade team of the 1990s in the NFL. He had been in private business until he worked as a coaching intern with the Philadelphia Eagles in their 2009 training camp. That helped lead to a job as secondary coach at UCLA in '09. He quit that job after one season for what was described as a family matter.
Lake was the only known candidate to interview for the job.
A Steelers spokesman said Lake was in coaching meetings Monday and unavailable for comment. He and his wife Monica have three children.
First Published March 8, 2011 12:00 am