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September 3, 2012

Prioleau's New Profession

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Former Virginia Tech defensive back Pierson Prioleau has reached the summit of his sport. A first-team all-Big East selection in 1997, he was a fourth-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1999. The South Carolina-born safety also suited up for the Buffalo Bills (2001-04), Washington Redskins (2005-07), Jacksonville Jaguars (2008) and New Orleans from 2009-11.

For his last team, in the tough NFC South, he won Super Bowl XLIV as New Orleans took care of Indianapolis 31-17.

"I will always miss it, because there is nothing like running out to 75-80,000 people and performing your God-given talent and have fun doing it," said Prioleau, who retired after last season.

Now, after accomplishing so much as a player, he hopes to do the same thing from the sideline. The 35-year old Prioleau is now the defensive backs coach at Radford High School.

"It has given me the opportunity to supplement my love for the game and competitive edge," he said. "I love kids, I love football, it's a perfect fit for me. I'm gracious."

In is his first season coaching for the Bobcats, Prioleau said he hopes to become an asset for his players and fellow coaches.

He's already made quite the impact.

"He is doing an excellent job," said Greg Wade, Radford High School's athletic director. "He has a great, positive outlook. When you can bring someone who has played at the supreme level, it's just a great experience. Not every player can have that luxury.

"They like him being out there. He is doing a great job, being a real good role model."

The former NFL player looked to some of his former coaches at Virginia Tech for coaching advice and has quickly noticed the difference between suiting up and teaching.

"Being a coach and a player, it's two different things," Prioleau said. "The most important thing is getting the players prepared to play the game. It's kind of hard for me just helping with preparation and not going out there and executing the plan."

Prioleau admitted that one day he wants to coach in college, but he is keeping his mindset on his current coaching gig.

"You know, right now, I'm focusing all of my efforts here at Radford High School," he said. "I'm 100 percent dedicated to these kids.

"In the future, if a position became available, I would welcome it with open arms. One of my goals in the future is to coach on the collegiate level. Virginia Tech would be heaven for me."

One of the reasons for calling Virginia Tech "heaven" is because he learned various valuable lessons while in Blacksburg.

"At Tech, we learn about your responsibility as a player to do your job and be accountable for your job on defense, offense or special teams," Prioleau said. "I think that provided me the foundation for longevity for the NFL."

Now, he is looking for longevity as a coach. While he hits the film room and works with players for countless hours this season, he still, as always, plans on watching the Hokies. He offered some valuable advice to the players for the upcoming season.

"My advice would be not be as good as last year, get better," he said. "Defensively, we will be strong. Offensively, I know they will be strong too."

Prioleau said he believes Virginia Tech will win the ACC and be a top contender for the national championship. But, there is a more important objective right now.

"Focus on Georgia Tech," he said. "I hate Georgia Tech's offense. Having the whole summer to prepare for [the triple option] is definitely a plus."

As a coach, Prioleau said he hopes to take Radford deep into the state tournament in Group A and contend. As a player, he always wondered why he couldn't reach the top and win a Super Bowl. He wants his players to feel the same about a state championship.

"To have the opportunity to play in one, win one, all those [prior expectations and] feelings don't even come close," he said. "It's that times 10. There is no feeling in the world comparable to it when it comes to winning [the Super Bowl]."

At least, for now.

"Unless we win the state championship here at Radford," Prioleau said.

Editor's Note - Future Champions, The Prioleau Foundation is a project that Pierson and his wife have started with the goal being to give back to the youth in Radford and the New River Valley. The foundation will provide mentoring for young people, helping them learn about health through athletics and to aid them in applying and preparing for college. For those who would like to volunteer by donating their time or money, information will be on the foundation's website, which will launch soon. More information will be found, when available on HokieHaven.com.

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