College football: Brandon Potvin helping to build defense, culture at Bates

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Bates College defensive coordinator Brandon Potvin talks with linebacker David Campbell during practice on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Bates defensive coordinator Brandon Potvin is an embodiment of something new head coach Malik Hall has talked about on several occasions since he was hired in mid-June: People over product.

“It’s all about relationships, because there’s a person under the facemask, but the fans only see a product,” Hall said at the Bates football team’s media day earlier this month. “I want (players) to walk away saying, man, I never played for coaches who cared about me so much.”

In 2011, Hall returned to his alma mater, UMass-Amherst, to serve as the defensive line coach. Among his defensive linemen was Potvin, then a sophomore.

“He was vital in the group that I coached,” Hall said, “and a leader, he was a sophomore that year, and he was a great leader. For me, he was the epitome for what I experienced at UMass.”

Hall soon left to return to coach at Wagner College. He coached Potvin for just a few months, but a bond was formed.

“He was only there for a short time, but in that short time he had a big impact on me, the way I started the view the game, view the position, and he really made me find a true love and passion, not just for D-line but for football,” said Potvin, who is from Worcester, Massachusetts.

The two have kept in touch in the seven years since. Potvin said he still has voicemails on his phone of Hall checking up on him, giving him scouting reports or telling him things he should work on.

“He was the first person really in my life, as a coach, who not just told me he was interested in me and told me that he cared about me, but showed it,” Potvin said.

Potvin was a four-year starter at UMass, from which he graduated in 2013. He played a couple years of professional football in the Arena Football League.

His defensive coordinator at UMass, Frank Forcucci, reached out and told him there was an opening on the staff at Bryant College, where Forcucci was the defensive coordinator.

Potvin was hesitant at first because he saw as a player the time commitment that coaching can be.

But, he decided to do it, and spent two years as the defensive line coach at Becker.

“Once you start realizing the impact that you can have on these kids and the kind of relationships you can build and the lives you can change,” Potvin said, “coaching becomes a whole different world other than the X’s and O’s of it.”

Potvin then spent two years at Nichols College, first as a graduate assistant (he earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from the school earlier this year) and then as the inside linebackers coach.

Hall said that just as Potvin epitomized his experience at UMass, he also epitomizes the type of program he wants to build at Bates, So one of the first calls Hall made when he was assembling the Bates staff was to his former defensive lineman.

“And I jumped all over it,” Potvin said. “The chance to be at a school like this with a guy like that, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime. He called me in June and I was up here in July. I love it up here.”

Now Hall and Potvin are bringing their brand of defense to the Bobcats, switching from the 3-5 scheme to more of, but not entirely, a 3-4.

“We’re primarily three-down, but we also have some four-down looks as well,” Potvin said. “We’re going to put guys in the right position to make sure that, regardless of scheme, we’re going to make it fit our players, we’re not going to ask players to fit the scheme.”

This is Potvin’s first time being a defensive coordinator, but he has adjusted to his new role smoothly, Hall said.

Potvin said his main focus is the front seven, the defensive linemen and linebackers. Tyler Cottle, one of the three holdovers from last year’s staff, handles the defensive backs.

Hall said he will be the primary defensive playcaller, but now that he’s a head coach, there will be times that he needs to talk to the offense and Potvin will call the defense.

“He’s equipped to do it,” Hall said. “For the most part, I kind of call it all. He organizes it, he communicates with them, and we go from there.”

Potvin has been impressed with the talent of the Bobcats, and points out the skilled players at every level of the defense, including “the best defensive line I’ve been a part of, not only as a coach, but as a player.”

He said that Bates has “a different kind of kid,” with high expectations the players have to live up to in the classroom. But that has translated onto the football field, where they’ve adjusted to the new defense quickly.

“It’s been amazing,” Potvin said. “They pick things up so well, they absorb things so well, and their retention is very high, as well. So we’re able to move through installs a little faster than maybe we’re used to with other programs, just because these kids are hungry to learn more.”

Now the new Bates staff’s focus is turning that hunger and intelligence into more victories for the Bobcats.

“These kids want to win. There’s no doubt about that,” Potvin said. “I mean, every team in the country wants to win, but we’re trying to teach these kids how to win. They have the tools, they have the character, they’ve got the want-to, now we’ve just got to go get it done.”

Bates defensive coordinator Brandon Potvin is an embodiment of something new head coach Malik Hall has talked about on several occasions since he was hired in mid-June: People over product.

“It’s all about relationships, because there’s a person under the facemask, but the fans only see a product,” Hall said at the Bates football team’s media day earlier this month. “I want them to walk away saying, man, I never played for coaches who cared about me so much.”

In 2011, Hall returned to his alma mater, UMass-Amherst, to serve as the defensive line coach. Among his defensive linemen was Potvin, then a sophomore.

“He was vital in the group that I coached,” Hall said, “and a leader, he was a sophomore that year, and he was a great leader. For me, he was the epitome for what I experienced at UMass.”

Hall soon left to return to coach at Wagner College. He coached Potvin for just a few months, but a bond was formed.

“He was only there for a short time, but in that short time he had a big impact on me, the way I started the view the game, view the position, and he really made me find a true love and passion, not just for D-line but for football,” said Potvin, who is from Worcester, Massachusetts.

The two have kept in touch in the seven years since. Potvin said he still has voicemails on his phone of Hall checking up on him, giving him scouting reports or telling him things he should work on.

“He was the first person really in my life, as a coach, who not just told me he was interested in me and told me that he cared about me, but showed it,” Potvin said.

Potvin was a four-year starter at UMass, from which he graduated in 2013. He played a couple years of professional football in the Arena Football League.

His defensive coordinator at UMass, Frank Forcucci, reached out and told him there was an opening on the staff at Bryant College, where Forcucci was the defensive coordinator.

Potvin was hesitant at first because he saw as a player the time commitment that coaching can be.

But, he decided to do it, and spent two years as the defensive line coach at Becker.

“Once you start realizing the impact that you can have on these kids and the kind of relationships you can build and the lives you can change,” Potvin said, “coaching becomes a whole different world other than the X’s and O’s of it.”

Potvin then spent two years at Nichols College, first as a graduate assistant (he earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from the school earlier this year) and then as the inside linebackers coach.

Hall said that just as Potvin epitomized his experience at UMass, he also epitomizes the type of program he wants to build at Bates, So one of the first calls Hall made when he was assembling the Bates staff was to his former defensive lineman.

“And I jumped all over it,” Potvin said. “The chance to be at a school like this with a guy like that, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime. He called me in June and I was up here in July. I love it up here.”

Now Hall and Potvin are bringing their brand of defense to the Bobcats, switching from the 3-5 scheme to more of, but not entirely, a 3-4.

“We’re primarily three-down, but we also have some four-down looks as well,” Potvin said. “We’re going to put guys in the right position to make sure that, regardless of scheme, we’re going to make it fit our players, we’re not going to ask players to fit the scheme.”

This is Potvin’s first time being a defensive coordinator, but he has adjusted to his smoothly, Hall said.

Potvin said his main focus is the front seven, the defensive linemen and linebackers. Tyler Cottle, one of the three holdovers from last year’s staff, handles the defensive backs.

Hall said he will be the primary defensive playcaller, but now that he’s a head coach, there will be times that he needs to talk to the offense and Potvin will call the defense.

“He’s equipped to do it,” Hall said. “For the most part, I kind of call it all. He organizes it, he communicates with them, and we go from there.”

Potvin has been impressed with the talent of the Bobcats, and points out the skilled players at every level of the defense, including “the best defensive line I’ve been a part of, not only as a coach, but as a player.”

He said that Bates has “a different kind of kid,” with high expectations the players have to live up to in the classroom. But that has translated onto the football field, where they’ve adjusted to the new defense quickly.

“It’s been amazing,” Potvin said. “They pick things up so well, they absorb things so well, and their retention is very high, as well. So we’re able to move through installs a little faster than maybe we’re used to with other programs, just because these kids are hungry to learn more.”

Now the new Bates staff’s focus is turning that hunger and intelligence into more victories for the Bobcats.

“These kids want to win. There’s no doubt about that,” Potvin said. “I mean, every team in the country wants to win, but we’re trying to teach these kids how to win. They have the tools, they have the character, they’ve got the want-to, now we’ve just got to go get it done.”

Bates defensive coordinator Brandon Potvin is an embodiment of something new head coach Malik Hall has talked about on several occasions since he was hired in mid-June: People over product.

“It’s all about relationships, because there’s a person under the facemask, but the fans only see a product,” Hall said at the Bates football team’s media day earlier this month. “I want them to walk away saying, man, I never played for coaches who cared about me so much.”

In 2011, Hall returned to his alma mater, UMass-Amherst, to serve as the defensive line coach. Among his defensive linemen was Potvin, then a sophomore.

“He was vital in the group that I coached,” Hall said, “and a leader, he was a sophomore that year, and he was a great leader. For me, he was the epitome for what I experienced at UMass.”

Hall soon left to return to coach at Wagner College. He coached Potvin for just a few months, but a bond was formed.

“He was only there for a short time, but in that short time he had a big impact on me, the way I started the view the game, view the position, and he really made me find a true love and passion, not just for D-line but for football,” said Potvin, who is from Worcester, Massachusetts.

The two have kept in touch in the seven years since. Potvin said he still has voicemails on his phone of Hall checking up on him, giving him scouting reports or telling him things he should work on.

“He was the first person really in my life, as a coach, who not just told me he was interested in me and told me that he cared about me, but showed it,” Potvin said.

Potvin was a four-year starter at UMass, from which he graduated in 2013. He played a couple years of professional football in the Arena Football League.

His defensive coordinator at UMass, Frank Forcucci, reached out and told him there was an opening on the staff at Bryant College, where Forcucci was the defensive coordinator.

Potvin was hesitant at first because he saw as a player the time commitment that coaching can be.

But, he decided to do it, and spent two years as the defensive line coach at Becker.

“Once you start realizing the impact that you can have on these kids and the kind of relationships you can build and the lives you can change,” Potvin said, “coaching becomes a whole different world other than the X’s and O’s of it.”

Potvin then spent two years at Nichols College, first as a graduate assistant (he earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from the school earlier this year) and then as the inside linebackers coach.

Hall said that just as Potvin epitomized his experience at UMass, he also epitomizes the type of program he wants to build at Bates, So one of the first calls Hall made when he was assembling the Bates staff was to his former defensive lineman.

“And I jumped all over it,” Potvin said. “The chance to be at a school like this with a guy like that, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime. He called me in June and I was up here in July. I love it up here.”

Now Hall and Potvin are bringing their brand of defense to the Bobcats, switching from the 3-5 scheme to more of, but not entirely, a 3-4.

“We’re primarily three-down, but we also have some four-down looks as well,” Potvin said. “We’re going to put guys in the right position to make sure that, regardless of scheme, we’re going to make it fit our players, we’re not going to ask players to fit the scheme.”

This is Potvin’s first time being a defensive coordinator, but he has adjusted to his smoothly, Hall said.

Potvin said his main focus is the front seven, the defensive linemen and linebackers. Tyler Cottle, one of the three holdovers from last year’s staff, handles the defensive backs.

Hall said he will be the primary defensive playcaller, but now that he’s a head coach, there will be times that he needs to talk to the offense and Potvin will call the defense.

“He’s equipped to do it,” Hall said. “For the most part, I kind of call it all. He organizes it, he communicates with them, and we go from there.”

Potvin has been impressed with the talent of the Bobcats, and points out the skilled players at every level of the defense, including “the best defensive line I’ve been a part of, not only as a coach, but as a player.”

He said that Bates has “a different kind of kid,” with high expectations the players have to live up to in the classroom. But that has translated onto the football field, where they’ve adjusted to the new defense quickly.

“It’s been amazing,” Potvin said. “They pick things up so well, they absorb things so well, and their retention is very high, as well. So we’re able to move through installs a little faster than maybe we’re used to with other programs, just because these kids are hungry to learn more.”

Now the new Bates staff’s focus is turning that hunger and intelligence into more victories for the Bobcats.

“These kids want to win. There’s no doubt about that,” Potvin said. “I mean, every team in the country wants to win, but we’re trying to teach these kids how to win. They have the tools, they have the character, they’ve got the want-to, now we’ve just got to go get it done.”

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