BATESVILLE, Ark. (LyonScots.com) – The job of recruiting over 100 student-athletes who want to be part of the start-up football program at Lyon College over the next two years is a tall order. And when Scots football coach Kirk Kelley made his selection of his first assistants, he wanted coaches he could count on to 'sell' the program and the college when they walked into living rooms of young men across the country.
Kelley announced recently the hiring of two assistant coaches, Nick Palese of Batesville and Kyle Phelps, who has personal ties to Lyon College as a student. Kelley said both them possess what he feels is essential when representing the Scots' football program.
"Between Nick and Kyle, I've known these guys, coached these guys and worked with these guys in the past and that means I can trust them. I also feel confident they'll represent the program we're building here at Lyon and they'll go into living rooms and do a great job selling it all to recruits and their parents."
Palese is a 2008 graduate of Batesville High School. He finished high school with a 3.7 grade point average and went on to receive teaching degree at Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Okla. with a 3.509 GPA.
He was a Class 5A East All-Conference and All-State football player as a senior and made the honor roll throughout his four years of high school. He was also an all-conference baseball player his junior and senior years and was all-state his senior season.
At OWU, Palese was on the Dean's List eight times and was NCCAA All-Region First-Team in 2012. He was a Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) All-Conference baseball player in 2012, as well as being named all-conference first-team in 2013. He was a MCAC Scholar Athlete in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and was named Who's Who Among Students at American Universities and Colleges. He graduated Cum Laude from OWU.
"Nick is someone that I've known since he was about 10 years old," Kelley said of his assistant. "He was a great high school football player and has a true passion for football.
"I was lucky enough to coach him at Oklahoma Wesleyan in baseball. He's always been a student of the game and every time he has done something it's always geared toward coaching football.
"I love the way he presents everything and his philosophy. I talked about surrounding myself with guys with whom I can trust at the press conference when I was hired and I know he'll get the job done."
Kelley said Palese will be a position coach on the offensive side of the ball.
"Being a local kid, Nick knows the area and that's huge," the coach stated. "We are all going to have territories we cover. There are 22 schools within 45 minutes of Lyon and he's going to be handling that area to start things off.
"Nick also did his student-teaching in Bartlesville under the football coach there so he knows that whole staff and will handling the Tulsa, Okla. area as well. And he also has connections in California that we hope to take advantage of."
Phelps is from Bartlesville, but attended Lyon College and played on the Scots' baseball team under Kelley after transferring from Baldwin-Wallace College in the Cleveland, Ohio area.
In addition to serving as an assistant or head coach in various teams in Texas and Oklahoma, he was an assistant coach at Oklahoma Wesleyan University with Kelley, coached at University of Central Arkansas and comes back to Lyon after his second coaching stint at OWU.
"Kyle was my recruiting coordinator when I was at Oklahoma Wesleyan. He also was the travel coordinator there," Kelley said. "He'll do a great job of representing Lyon College and bringing in kids that will fit our program, as well as the school."
Phelps will be coaching on the defensive side of the ball for Lyon College.
The Lyon College head coach said, with so many players to bring in over the next two years, his assistants have to be organized.
"Nick and Kyle are very organized, very dependable and very personable," Kelley noted. "I have confidence putting them in front of mommas and daddies, and that they are going to sell the program and the school."