Ever since Robert Prince left San Gorgonio High School in the early 1980s, having played wide receiver on Spartans’ teams coached by Dave Duncanson, the lifetime NFL and college coach has been a survivor.
He survived enough to take over as interim Detroit Lions head coach in Saturday’s game against Tom Brady and his current team, Tampa Bay. Prince is Detroit’s third head coach in 2020.
NFL Network announcers Adam Amin and Mark Schlereth introduced Prince to viewers just as second quarter play was starting. By then, Brady and the Bucs had a 13-0 lead and Detroit was missing QB Matthew Stafford.
Long a wide receivers coach, Prince’s most impressive part of his resume may well be surviving at a franchise known for making handfuls of personnel moves. Prince has coached in the NFL for 13 seasons, seven with the Lions.
Part of his resume includes offensive coordinator at Boise State, which is now considered one of college football’s top programs not affiliated with Power Five conferences.
Hired at Detroit first in 2014 when Jim Caldwell landed there after his days at Indianapolis, Prince survived the transition to Matt Patricia. He was highly successful as New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator on Super Bowl contenders.
When the Lions fired Patricia earlier this season, Darrell Bevell took over as interim coach. When Bevell was exposed to COVID, Prince was thrust into the position.
Such a move raised the antenna on the part of San G personnel. Recently retired baseball coach Bill Eatinger reported, “that he was a star receiver at San G and went to Humboldt State. Moved to San Bernardino from Okinawa. Fifty-five years old. Graduated, I think, in 1983.”
Those were the days when San G was part of the ultra-strong Citrus Belt League, topped by Fontana, Rialto Eisenhower and Colton forming the nucleus for a powerhouse prep league that also included Redlands.
Current San G Athletic Director Matt Maeda brought light to Prince’s new assignment on Christmas Day.
Few NFL organizations have undergone more changes than the Lions, yet Prince has survived. He's the last man standing from Caldwell's 2014 staff. Since then, there have been three owners, three general managers, two team presidents, three head coaches and 10 coordinators.
Patricia cut loose much of the staff when he took over in 2018, but he kept Prince.
Before his departure, Patricia told local media: “He’s awesome. I mean, I love him. I love the way he coaches, I love his energy.”
Footnote to Prince: At NCAA Division II Humboldt State, he played WR for the Lumberjacks and ran track in the spring. Eventually, he started his coaching career as a grad assistant there before launching a career at such stops as Montana, Sacramento State, Fort Lewis (Ore.) College, Portland State, Boise State, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks, plus working a stint at a team in the Japanese X-League.
(He was carried off the field when his team, Recruit, won the Japanese Super Bowl.)
The son of an American father and Japanese mother, born on Okinawa where he spent his first seven years of life, eventually his family showed up in San Bernardino.
“He played with a great crew, which I enjoyed coaching,” said Duncanson, who coached against such coaching icons as Fontana’s Dick Bruich, Colton’s Don Markham, Riverside Poly’s Mike Churchill, among others.
Duncanson called Prince “a key wide receiver for the Spartans in the early ‘80s.”
PHILLIPS’ CURIOUS ACC SCRUM
On the surface of ex-Redlands East Valley defensive stalwart Jaelan Phillips as a second team Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) selection, such merit might bear a deeper look.
Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu Keremiah was selected as ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Runner-up in that voting turned out to be none other than Phillips, part of 9-2 Hurricanes’ defensive unit.
Second-team all-ACC for someone voted overall second best defender?
Pitt defensive ends Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver each won first team all-ACC spots with 138 and 127 voting points, respectively. Phillips netted 123 points.
Each of the 15 teams placed at least one player on the All-ACC Teams, which were chosen by a vote of a select 49-member media panel and the league’s 15 head coaches. Three points were awarded for each first-team vote, two points for each second-team vote and one point for each third-team selection.
Clemson and Notre Dame, part of the four semifinals team in contention for this year’s NCAA championship, sit atop the ACC.
ANDRIESE SIGNS WITH BOSTON
Matt Andriese, who pitched 32 innings for the Los Angeles Angels last season, was signed by the Boston Red Sox last week in a deal announced by the American League Eastern Division team.
It’s not Andriese’s first try back there. The onetime Redlands East Valley ace spent three seasons at Tampa Bay from 2015-17, playing at Boston’s Fenway Park several times.
“I’m really excited,” Andriese told Red Sox chronicler Tom Trezza, noting he signed a one-year deal for $2.5 million with a 2022 option.
“Playing in the AL East early in my career, Fenway was always my favorite park to visit. I also played in the Cape Cod League in college and always loved the summer on the Cape. When I heard the Red Sox had interest in me as a free agent, my ears perked up.”
Andriese, drafted out of UC Riverside by San Diego, was dealt to the Rays. He wound up spending time at Arizona in 2018 and 2019 before winding up with the Angels last season.
The right-handed pitcher was 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA.