Lea Announces Football Staff Additions

Melvin Rice joins Vanderbilt as safeties coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt football head coach Clark Lea has announced Melvin Rice will join the program as an assistant coach, working with safeties. In addition, Lea has welcomed Steve Gregory as senior consultant/associate defensive coordinator, Garrett Altman as an analyst for the offense and Ian Bures as assistant director of football sports performance.

Rice joins Vanderbilt following two seasons at New Mexico State where he was co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach for one of the top turnarounds in the nation. New Mexico State had won more than three games just once since 2010, but while Rice was on head coach Jerry Kill’s staff the Aggies earned consecutive bowl berths and went to the Conference USA championship game in 2023.

In 2023, the Aggie defense led CUSA in scoring defense and ranked fifth nationally in red zone defense. During the 2022 season, New Mexico State was 29th nationally in total defense, with Chris Ojoh ranking 13th nationally in solo tackles.

Prior to New Mexico State, Rice spent six seasons on the staff of head coach Rod Carey at Temple and Northern Illinois. Rice coached cornerbacks at Temple from 2020-21 and at Northern Illinois from 2016-18. The 2018 defensive backfield at NIU ranked among the top 50 nationally in passing efficiency defense, while in 2016 Shawun Larry tied the school record for career interceptions.

Rice spent the 2015 season as cornerbacks coach at Southeast Missouri State, mentoring future Detroit Lion Mike Ford. Prior to that, he spent three seasons as a defensive quality control assistant at Minnesota, helping the Golden Gophers to three bowl games during that time.

He started his collegiate coaching career at his alma mater, serving as a graduate assistant on the 2010 Northern Illinois team which went 11-3 and won the Humanitarian Bowl. He helped coach the cornerbacks, including All-MAC corner Chris Smith.

Rice was a four-year letterwinner and three-year starter at NIU. He played in two bowl games and the 2005 MAC Championship. He capped his career with 175 total tackles, eight for loss, two interceptions and 18 pass break-ups.

The Chicago native spent one season as an assistant coach at Morgan Park High School, helping the team to the state playoffs. As a prep player at Morgan Park, Rice was a first-team All-Public League selection and earned all-state honors from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Champaign News-Gazette and Illinois High School Football Coaches Association as a senior.

Rice earned his degree from Northern Illinois in 2009, majoring in sociology and criminology. He and his wife, Gabrielle, have four children — sons Macklin, Mackai, Mackari and daughter Mackinnley.

Gregory will serve as senior consultant and associate defensive coordinator, assisting Lea in off-field areas as the head coach assumes defensive coordinator responsibilities in 2024.

The Syracuse product most recently spent two seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2021-22), coaching the safeties his second year with the franchise. He also spent three seasons on staff with the Detroit Lions, two years as a defensive assistant and one as defensive backs coach. He began his coaching career as a quality control assistant at his alma mater in 2015, Lea’s final year as an assistant coach for the Orange.

Gregory was a three-year starter at Syracuse, earning four letters. At the conclusion of his career, he ranked third in SU history with 40 passes defended and his five blocked field goals were second-most in school history. As a senior, he started all 11 games, made 60 tackles and a pair of interceptions. He was named an All-BIG EAST Freshman Team pick and a Freshman All-American by The Sporting News in 2002, leading all FBS freshmen with 21 passes defended.

He signed with the then-San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent and went on to appear in 85 games over six seasons with the Chargers. He then spent three seasons with the New England Patriots. In 2012, he was one of three Patriots to earn Player of the Game honors during New England’s Thanksgiving Night win over the Jets thanks to an interception and two fumble recoveries. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014, but opted to retire during camp.

The Brooklyn, New York, native graduated from Syracuse with a dual major in finance and marketing management. He and his wife, Rosanne, have two daughters — Aviana and Vivienne.

Altman joins the Vanderbilt staff after two seasons as an offensive analyst at New Mexico State. He assisted Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Tim Beck during his two seasons with the Aggies. In 2023, NMSU won 10 games for the first time since 1960 behind CUSA Offensive Player of the Year Diego Pavia. The Aggies ranked among the top 25 in FBS in passing touchdowns (14th), points (18th), passing yards per attempt (21st) and passing efficiency (25th). The 2022 campaign resulted in New Mexico State averaging 44.75 points per game over the final four games to earn bowl eligibility.

Prior to New Mexico State, Altman was a graduate assistant at his alma mater, TCU. The Brenham, Texas, native played for the Horned Frogs from 2013-17, appearing in 25 career games as an offensive lineman. He was a two-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree during his time in Fort Worth.

Bures joins Vanderbilt’s strength staff following stints at Notre Dame and USC. He served on the strength and conditioning staff at Notre Dame alongside Vanderbilt director of football sports performance Robert Stiner, the same time Commodore head coach Clark Lea was defensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish.

He made two stops at Notre Dame, first from 2018-20 then again from 2022-23. He spent the 2021 season at USC where Stiner served as the director of football strength and conditioning. Bures spent the summer of 2017 on the strength and conditioning staff at Western Michigan while completing a graduate assistantship at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

He was a tight end at Plymouth State before also completing a strength and conditioning internship there. He prepped at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls, Connecticut.

Bures earned his undergraduate degree in health and physical education from Plymouth State in 2015 before completing a master’s degree in sport and exercise science at Cumberland in 2017. He is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association and American Red Cross.