Esks bring in trio of new coaches

Edmonton Eskimos' head coach Kavis Reed. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

Edmonton Eskimos' head coach Kavis Reed. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos have assembled their generals for the 2012 CFL campaign.

Head coach Kavis Reed finalized his coaching staff with an announcement from Commonwealth Stadium on Friday, bringing in three new bodies and bidding farewell to Steff Kruck and Dennis McKnight.

Kruck, who spent last season as the receivers coach, will be replaced by Derrell ‘Mookie’ Mitchell, who officially joins the coaching ranks after serving as a guest coach at recent training camps.

A former scout with the Eskimos, Mitchell had an all-star CFL playing career spanning 11 seasons that began with being named the league’s most-outstanding rookie in 1997. He won a pair of Grey Cups, including the 2005 championship with the Eskimos, where he played from 2004-06.

“He’s going to probably be a Hall-of-Famer,” said Reed. “Having an opportunity — he worked with us part-time last year — to see his work ethic, to see the way he relates to the players, the technical skills that he has, the way he communicates, what he knows being a premier slot himself … I had no problems promoting him to that position.”

While the Eskimos running game has a big question mark — depending on whether or not tailback Jerome Messam gets a shot in the NFL — the unit will be headed up by Jamie Barresi.

After spending the last two seasons as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive co-ordinator, Barresi brings nearly 30 years of coaching experience to Edmonton.

The former University of Ottawa quarterback has a doctorate in exercise and sports science from Penn State.

“Dr. Barresi is an absolutely brilliant mind,” said Reed, who worked alongside Barresi in Hamilton, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan. “He steps outside of the box in terms of the way he approaches some scheme things.”

Former Eskimos defensive back Marcello Simmons returns to Edmonton to fill a coaching role with the team’s secondary that was left vacant last season.

“One of the things I did not do last year that I really regret is having a defensive backs coach,” said Reed. “That group needs someone they can call their mentor and Marcello is not too far removed from the game.”

The new trio joins former linebackers coach Mark Nelson, who has already assumed the defensive co-ordinator duties previously held by the B.C. Lions-bound Rich Stubler, as well as Kit Lathrop, who resumes his responsibility as the club’s defensive-line coach while being promoted to assistant head coach.

“Coach Rick Campbell has graciously allowed us to use the assistant head coach’s title to be able to maintain coach Lathrop, who will assume that title,” said Reed.

Campbell, meanwhile, returns for his 12th season coaching with the Eskimos and is coming off a season where his coverage team was the flagship of the league. He was also a key cog in Edmonton’s 2003 and ‘05 Grey Cups.

Marcus Crandell returns for a second season as Eskimos offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach, but will be without the services of Ricky Ray this time around.

Offensive line coach Tim Prinsen will also be back for a third season, to head up the unit he once played on.

FOUR SCORNED: The Eskimos released kick returner Jason Armstead, defensive back Jykine Bradley, offensive lineman Chris Patrick and defensive lineman Joe Sykes, while signing free-agent import Michael Ricks to their secondary.

The six-foot-one, 195-pound Stillman College product was a two-time all-state selection after transferring to North East Mississippi College.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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