Mark Brunell, Andre Rison among players attending NFL Coaches Academy

Jeff Zelevansky

Mark Brunell and Andre Rison are among the former players attending the NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy, designed to teach coaches how to move up through the coaching system.

Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell and former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison will attend the third annual NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy next week.

Only 60 spots are available for hopeful coaches, and over 400 applications were received by the NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy. Of the 60 awarded spots, 45 went to African-Americans, in an effort to help minority coaches get a leg up. The NFL had eight head coaching vacancies this offseason, but none went to minority candidates.

The upcoming NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy focuses on how to reach the bottom rung of the coaching ladder -- beginning the ascent up it. For former players like Brunell and Rison, with minimal coaching experience, the event will teach first-time coaches how to break into the coaching system, and then start moving up.

Brunell spent 16 years in the NFL, with the majority of those years coming with the Jaguars. Brunell finished his career with 32,072 passing yards, 184 touchdowns and 79 interceptions. Brunell last appeared in the NFL in 2011, as the backup quarterback for the New York Jets. Since then, Brunell was named the head football coach at Episcopal School in Jacksonville.

Rison spent 13 years in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl honors five times. Rison finished his career with 10,205 receiving yards, 743 receptions and 84 touchdowns. Rison was named Flint Northwestern High School's head football coach in 2010, and also trains wide receivers at his football academy.

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