April 11, 2012
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Brian Ormiston
During the spring UCFAthletics.com has been focusing on the Knights' new coaches who have joined the staff for 2012. The final feature takes a look at tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Allen Mogridge.
For previous features, click on the links below:
-Raised By Football Coaches - Tyson Summers
-Earning His Way - Kirk Callahan
-Traveling Man - Jim Fleming
-Fear No Evil - Blaise Winter
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Allen Mogridge had a lot on his mind.
While sitting in UCF head coach George O'Leary's office in January interviewing to become the Knights' tight ends and special teams coach, Mogridge's thoughts occasionally drifted toward events taking place in North Carolina. About 630 miles away, his wife Jennifer was diligently preparing for the birth of their third child.
Not only would Mogridge land the job, exactly one week later, Lola was born.
"I interviewed with coach O'Leary on a Friday, and I stayed through the recruiting weekend," said Mogridge, who now has three daughters along with Livi and Izzy. "I then went straight into recruiting before flying home Thursday and was at the hospital Friday morning. We had Lola, I got my wife Jenny and Lola back to the house Monday and flew to UCF Monday night. We were back recruiting Tuesday night.
"Whenever I had the opportunity during my first few weeks at UCF I went back and saw them. But my family moved down here for good the weekend of March 24, and I talked to Livi and she told me she was watching people pack up. We were able to get our house sold and that was a blessing. The moving truck showed up on March 26 to our place in Oviedo, and we were really excited about the opportunity to live in Orlando."
While his family was in the process of growing, Mogridge listened to several of his mentors about the open position with the Knights, and they all said he should not pass up the chance to work for coach O'Leary. And plenty of familiar faces already were in place on UCF's staff.
A member of North Carolina's offensive line, Mogridge played against UCF offensive line coach Brent Key at Georgia Tech - a Yellow Jacket team led by O'Leary.
Mogridge admitted, "Coach O'Leary told me I was the blitz check and they would just find No. 75 and blitzed me because they knew I would screw it up."
Responsible for the defensive ends at Western Carolina in 2003, Mogridge also gave his office to Key, who took over the Catamounts' tight ends and running backs in 2004.
Mogridge, meanwhile, worked with UCF running backs coach Danny Barrett at Buffalo and defensive backs coach Kirk Callahan at North Carolina, and he coached against defensive coordinator Jim Fleming when the two were at Buffalo and Akron, respectively.
A Tennessee Boy
Making his way to North Carolina in the first place proved to be an interesting journey as he grew up in the Tennessee mountains.
"I was born in Blount County Memorial Hospital in Maryville, Tenn., and lived in Sevierville," Mogridge said. "I am a proud alumni of Sevierville County High School and the Smokey Bears. My mom raised me and my sister, but I also was raised by Steve Brewer, Kenny Ratlidge and Tony Lienenfelder. They were our head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator in high school, and really the whole community helped me grow up.
"It was a great place to live as a kid. It's about 20 minutes east of Knoxville and a big tourism area right at the foot of the Smoky Mountains. It's where Dollywood is and all of that. I don't think we ever locked the door or took our car keys inside. It was one of those kinds of places. It was really nice. You could go get your haircut once a week at Ramsey's Barber Shop. You learn to trout and bass fish, as well as shoot skeet and ride horses."
John Denver's Thank God I'm a Country Boy should be playing whenever Mogridge describes his hometown. There would come a time when he had to make a choice, though: Boy Scouts or football.
"I can remember the conversation with my mom. Because she's a single parent, she couldn't take me all over the place so it was one or the other. So I decided to play football starting in middle school, and once we got going with sports, I played basketball and ran track as well.
"I got into football because my buddies and I would play at recess, then eventually we put the pads on. When I put the pads and helmet on and got to hit others, it was great. We started doing some old-school drills where you lay down on the ground, they blow the whistle, one guy has the ball and you just jump up and go hit each other. It was all new to me but very exciting. The structure of that was something that I needed. It was one of those things that was so addicting to me."
Mogridge then found himself searching for a favorite position, only to discover he would succeed at multiple spots on the field.
"When I got into organized ball, there were weight limits. If you didn't make it, you play offensive or defensive line," Mogridge said. "Way back I started on the line but the next year I moved to wide receiver, and then tight end and a wide receiver. And when I was in high school, I played wide receiver, tight end and defensive line."
Traveling East to the Tar Heel State
Boasting impressive versatility, Mogridge wasted little time jumping to the college ranks.
"I committed to North Carolina early," Mogridge recalled. "They offered me and I committed early. I had a great amount of trust with the coach who recruited me, defensive coordinator Carl Torbush who is at Liberty now. And having the opportunity to play for coach Mack Brown was really good for me. They called me an athlete, and I actually played four different positions for the Tar Heels."
Joining UNC in 1996, Mogridge worked as a tight end, fullback, offensive tackle and defensive end for the Tar Heels, who earned a No. 4 national ranking in the final 1997 USA Today Coaches Poll. He looks back on his college days with a huge smile.
"I just fell in love with the town and the degree program," Mogridge said. "When I think about North Carolina, I think of watching my mom leave after dropping me off, I think of being a freshman, I think of meeting a whole different support group and I think of how important coaches are in your life. That family dynamic has to show up as a college student. You don't know it until midway through the first semester when you say to yourself, `What is happening?'"
A history major, Mogridge acknowledges that today he would struggle if he watched "Jeopardy!" Yet if he was not coaching at the collegiate level, he would love to teach social studies and United States history.
"I was always interested in the stories of U.S. history," Mogridge said. "The last paper I wrote was about 30 pages on the changing roles of women during the Civil War. It was a seminar class and we met for five hours on a Monday. I have to give a shout out to Dr. William Barney, he is a great instructor and he still teaches at UNC. If I wasn't coaching collegiate football I would be teaching a core class at a high school, and I'd be coaching at the same time."
A Tough Decision Awaits
Mogridge hung up his degree in 1999, and following a year working in the 2000 Carolina Panthers training camp as well as suiting up for the Carolina Cobras in the Arena Football League, he still had a difficult decision ahead of him.
"When I look back on it, one of the hardest choices I had to make in my life was whether to coach high school football or college football," Mogridge said. "I was playing in the Arena Football League and an opportunity to be a graduate assistant came up but I already made plans to volunteer with some buddies for a high school team in North Carolina. I was a U.S. history major in college, and with that degree the two options are to go to law school or teach. I remembered what an influence coaches had been in my life as a kid who grew up in a single-parent home and what those guys meant to me. That's why there was always a draw in my heart to high school.
"But then going through my experiences in college and having an opportunity to go work for Jim Hofher at the University at Buffalo, he gave me a job as a graduate assistant. You see where you can be a mentor and you can help guys grow the same way my coaches helped me mature when I was young. This is a different level than high school when you're 14-18, but here you're 18-22 and that's a whole new dynamic of growing up and being away from home."
Someone who was able to help guide Mogridge along the way was his wife Jennifer. The couple first noticed each other as students at North Carolina.
"I met my wife in an early-morning psychology class when I was a freshman in college, and she was a junior getting better grades than me," Mogridge grinned. "She was a rower at UNC. Our first meeting wasn't a great one. It was one of those awkward moments where she had a cold and was coming in, and since a woman was coming through the door I wanted to try and hold the door open. But I couldn't really get to it so it was awkward. But I knew I had to go recruit her after that. I wanted to sign her.
"We started dating pretty soon after that. Our first date was around Valentine's Day, and we went to this place called Ham's. We had sandwiches, chips and saw the movie Beautiful Girls. It was a chill movie. We dated for about seven years before we got married, and then we got married June 8, 2002. She's from Charlotte and we got married on the beach in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and it was pretty cool. We had ribs at the reception, no one wore shoes. Everyone was barefoot in the sand. It was a great excuse for all of my buddies to go to the beach all day. Her family is awesome too, and now we have three kids."
Now settled down in Orlando, Mogridge craves to just fly under the radar, and lives by his motto, "Low in the foxhole, grab the rope as tight as I can and pull as tight as I can - Always trying to be part of the solution and not part of the problem." One thing that does not fly under the radar near UCF is a certain restaurant establishment Mogridge already puts near the top of his list.
"I've been to Huey Magoo's and those chicken tenders are pretty good. I played O-line and I was 300 pounds. I like good chicken."