“Well, he’s the head coach now,” Breckterfield deadpanned.
Ten years ago Breckterfield and Lea spent their hours trying to make the Bruins’ defense top notch – Lea coached inside linebackers and Breckterfield the defensive front, so the duo worked closely on a daily basis forming game plans.
This month Breckterfield rejoined his old friend in Nashville to try to build something new for the Vanderbilt Commodores. The former Oregon State defensive lineman will be charged with molding Vandy’s men in the defensive trenches.
“He called me and I loved the vision for what he has for this place and our visions aligned on how to build a program,” Breckterfield said. “Watching him do what he’s been doing and watching him climb has been cool to see.
“We’ve always talked about getting a chance to work back together. This opportunity presented itself and I jumped at it.”
From 1995-98, Breckterfield wreaked havoc in the Pacific-10 as a ferocious defensive tackle and defensive end for Oregon State. He recorded more than 50 tackles for loss and nearly 20 sacks during his career while becoming an All-American.
Those sort of credentials have helped him relate to his student-athletes during a coaching career that has included time at Pittsburgh and Wisconsin over the past nine seasons.
“I think everything starts with we have to be fundamentally sound and play with great technique,” Breckterfield said. “I want smart, tough, grinders up front and guys who like to work and love football. I think if you get a combination of all that, you have a good chance to play good defense.
“I pride myself and my guys on being fundamentally sound and playing with great effort and great technique. That’s the core of what I do.”
A native of Kaneohe, Hawai’i, Breckterfield will be part of a new era of Vanderbilt football as Lea makes his debut as a head coach this fall. It will also be an opportunity for Breckterfield to coach some of the best defensive lineman in the country against of of the top offensive linemen in college football.
“Getting a chance to be in the SEC, I’m excited about it,” Breckterfield said. “I think the challenge is going to be that it’s a definite challenge every week. I’m looking forward to it.”
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.