Chargers hire assistant coaches Spencer, Graves and D’Alessandris


San Diego Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy has added three more assistant coaches to his staff. McCoy hired Kevin Spencer to coach special teams, Fred Graves to coach wide receivers, and Joe D’Alessandris to tutor the offensive line.

“Each of these men is an outstanding person as well as an experienced coach and teacher,” said McCoy. “We are on our way to building an outstanding coaching staff.”

Spencer is a former NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year, chosen in 2003 by the league’s special teams coaches.  He has spent the last 15 seasons coaching NFL special teams, including stops in Indianapolis (1998-01), Pittsburgh (2002-06) and Arizona (2007-12), winning a Super Bowl championship with the Steelers after the 2005 season (Super Bowl XL) and an NFC Championship with Cardinals in 2008. In Indianapolis, rookie Terrence Wilkins returned two punts and a kickoff for touchdowns while working under Spencer, including one of each in 1999 that led to Wilkins’ selection to a number of NFL All-Rookie teams. In Pittsburgh, Spencer worked with Antwaan Randle-El, who set a team record with four punt returns for touchdowns during their five seasons together. And in Arizona, Spencer worked with Patrick Peterson, who tied the NFL record with four punt return touchdowns during his rookie season, becoming only the fourth player in league history with four punt return scores in a season. Peterson also had four punt returns of 80-plus yards, the first player in NFL history to do so, and his 99-yard punt return for a touchdown in overtime during a game against the St. Louis Rams was the second-longest punt return in NFL history. Return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling also had outstanding success under Spencer. In 2010, Stephens-Howling led the NFL with 1,542 kickoff return yards and scored on returns of 102 and 96 yards.

Spencer has also been fortunate to work with some of the league’s top kickers and punters during his career. The list includes kicker Mike Vanderjagt in Indianapolis, who became the first player in Colts history to score more than 100 points in four straight seasons. In Pittsburgh, kicker Jeff Reed had the second-highest field goal percentage in franchise history and kicked five game-winning field goals while working with Spencer. And in Arizona, kicker Jay Feely led the team in scoring the last three seasons, while punter Ben Graham tied an NFL record in 2009 with 42 punts landed inside the 20.

A native of Queens, New York, Spencer played football and lacrosse at Springfield (Mass.) College. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Springfield and a Master’s from Cortland State in 1976. He entered the coaching field as a graduate assistant at Cortland State in 1975 and spent the next 16 seasons on the college and high school levels, including five years as the head coach at Wesleyan (Conn.) College. Spencer began his NFL coaching career with the Cleveland Browns in 1991 and spent time with the Browns (1991-94) and Oakland Raiders (1995-97) before joining the Indianapolis Colts in ’98.

Spencer and his wife, Rosemarie, have two sons, Timothy and Jack.

A former halfback and split end at the University of Utah, Graves has spent the last 37 years coaching on the college and professional level, including 36 years coaching wide receivers. At his most recent stop in Carolina (2011-12), Steve Smith topped 1,000 yards both seasons under Graves, his first 1,000-yard campaigns since 2008. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, including 2011, Smith caught 152 passes for 2,568 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons while working under Graves.

A native of Los Angeles, Graves coached a total of 26 years on the collegiate level, including 19 years (1982-00) as the wide receivers coach at his alma mater, the University of Utah. Graves moved on to the NFL in 2001 when the Buffalo Bills tabbed him to coach their receivers. Eric Moulds and Peerless Price both delivered 1,000-yard seasons for the Bills under Graves and Moulds put together the first 100-reception season in team history. In 2002, Moulds, Price and rookie Josh Reed combined to catch 231 passes for 3,053 yards and 21 scores.

After three seasons in Buffalo (2001-03), Graves spent a year in Cleveland (2004) and one in Detroit (2005). Graves did not coach in 2006, but returned to the NFL in ’07 with the Tennessee Titans, spending four seasons coaching a group that included Justin Gage, Kenny Britt and Nate Washington.

Graves played at the University of Utah from 1969-71 and led the Utes with 45 catches as a senior. He graduated with a degree in business and entered the coaching ranks in 1975 as the tight ends and wide receivers coach at Northeast Missouri State. He split time between NE Missouri State, Western Illinois and New Mexico State before starting his 19-year stretch at Utah. 

Graves and his wife, Michele, have a daughter Amber; son Marcus, and two grandchildren, Tenille and Isaiah.

D’Alessandris is a former collegiate guard from Western Carolina who has spent the last 36 years as a coach in the NFL, college, the Canadian Football League and the World League. He has coached the offensive line 34 of his 36 years as a coach.

He joins the Chargers from Buffalo where he tutored the Bills’ offensive line from 2010-12, including a 2011 season in which the Bills led the league in fewest sacks allowed (23). The Bills started eight different offensive line combinations that season and the 23 sacks allowed was the third-fewest in team history during a 16-game season. The play of the offensive line paid large dividends in the Bills’ running game as they ranked fifth in the NFL in average yards per carry in 2011 and fourth in 2012.

D’Alessandris’ first NFL job came in Kansas City (2008-09) when he served as the Chiefs’ assistant offensive line coach. Under his watch in 2009, guard Brian Waters was voted to his first-career Pro Bowl and Jamaal Charles recorded his first-career 1,000 yard season.

A native of Aliquippa, Pa., D’Alessandris earned four letters and started three years at guard for Western Carolina. Team MVP and a team captain as a senior, he graduated in 1977 and earned a master’s degree two years later, both degrees from Western Carolina. It is also where he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant during the 1977 and ’78 seasons. It led to D’Alessandris’ first full-time job as the offensive line coach at Livingston College in 1979. He then spent the next 29 years between Livingston, the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Ottawa of the Canadian Football League, Birmingham of the World League, Samford University, Texas A&M, Memphis of the Canadian Football League, the University of Pittsburgh, Duke and Georgia Tech.

In 2010, D’Alessandris was inducted into the Beaver County (Pa.) and Center High School Sports Halls of Fame.

He and his wife, Toni, have three children, Anna, Kelly and Emily.

January 22, 2013

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