Panther football loses Early
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College offensive coordinator Joe Early is stepping down after 14 years as an assistant coach at the college. Early accepted a similar position at the Brunswick School in Connecticut, where he will also serve as the school’s sports information contact.
“Joe has been an integral part of our success over the past several years,” said head coach Bob Ritter. “He has been a great mentor to our players, and has had a tremendous impact on the greater Middlebury community with all he’s done with community service — he will surely be missed.”
Reflecting on his time in Vermont, Early said he valued the relationships made across the campus and in the community. “I’ve grown personally and professionally due to my interactions with the amazing people I’ve met here.”
The longtime assistant made it clear that his soon-to-be former boss was a key catalyst for his development: “I will continue to measure my growth against the standards espoused by Bob Ritter. I’m thankful for the opportunity he presented me back in 2001.”
Early recently completed his sixth season as the team’s offensive coordinator. Dating back to 2007, a Panther quarterback earned all-NESCAC accolades, and three times a Middlebury signal-caller was tabbed as the NESCAC’s Offensive Player of the Year. Since 2009, the Middlebury offense owns 10 first-place spots in the national rankings, including completions per game (five times), fewest fumbles lost (0 in 2013), and fewest tackles for loss allowed in 2012. Additionally, the Panthers hold an eye-popping 27 more offensive production marks in the NCAA’s top 10 rankings.
The 7-1 2014 campaign marked Early’s 10th and final season leading the offensive line and field-goal unit. Beyond working with current NFL placekicker Steven Hauschka (’07), he tutored a number of all-conference linemen. Two linemen received All-American status including former Panther Ryan Moores (’13), who earned an NFL try-out with the Atlanta Falcons.
After a record-breaking 2012 season, Early was in the national spotlight, receiving the prestigious AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year Award for his efforts on the field and in the community. The prolific Panther offense set 13 school records in 2012, leading all of NCAA Division III football in three categories — individual receiving yards per game (141.75), completions per game (32.00), and the allowing the fewest tackles for loss allowed per game (2.63). The offense also earned a pair of second-place finishes nationally — individual receptions per game (10.38) and team passing yards (371.38), while sitting in the top 15 in 10 more offensive categories.
Before arriving in Vermont, he had collegiate coaching stops at Swarthmore, SUNY Brockport, Hamilton College and the University of Chicago. Early arrived in Middlebury in 2001, and coached the defensive line for four seasons.
On campus, he was an adviser for Middlebury’s Newman Club and worked with the Athletic Communications Office, managing game statistics and press releases for numerous Middlebury sporting events over the past 10 years. Away from the college, Early made time to volunteer at St. Mary’s Church, as well as a number of local and national charities that assisted children, senior citizens, the disabled and veterans.
Early, along with his wife Angela and their children, Alice and Quinn, will be on their way to Connecticut later this summer.
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