Three of the four Ravens who went to the University of Miami are defenders, and now they have a coordinator who is also part of the Hurricane football tradition.
Chuck Pagano, promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator this week, was the secondary coach and special teams coordinator at Miami from 1995-2000. He coached four first-round draft picks, two of whom -- Ed Reed and Duane Starks -- the Ravens selected.
"My relationship with Ed Reed is pretty good," Pagano said. "I've known him since he was 17 years old when I dragged him into a biology lab and made sure all the Bunsen burners were off and talked him out of going to Tulane and coming to Miami. …He's got a strong family right here in Baltimore and he's got a ton of support. He's a warrior and he's a great leader and he'll go down as one of the all-timers to ever play this game."
Reed was just as complimentary of Pagano.
"Chuck will do everything he can to make sure the defense is prepared for each practice and every game," he said. "The time and effort he puts in and what he will sacrifice will be more than a championship-caliber.
"I believe his best coaching quality is working with the other coaches and players around him. Just like coach [Greg] Mattison, Chuck will get input from everyone, and that will help him be the best coordinator he can be and us be the best defense we can be."
In addition to Reed, Ray Lewis, Tavares Gooden and Willis McGahee comprise the list of former 'Canes in the Ravens' locker room. Lewis echoed Reed's description of Pagano as a personable, player-oriented coach.
"I really have had a truly personal relationship with Chuck, not only from when he got here, but even before because of our ties to the 'U,'" Lewis said. "Even though he didn't coach me, I have known what kind of man and coach he is for a while now. He has an extreme knowledge of the game, and the way he communicates that with his players and fellow coaches is amazing.
"You have to respect how he studies opponents and how he prepares for the task at hand each week. He is truly a pure players' coach. He is a man's man, and there is nothing that I wouldn't do for him. I am excited to see what we can do as a defense and as a team leading into next season. Here we go."
As Pagano broadens his focus from the secondary to the entire defense, he will have more chances to work with Lewis, and he said he was excited about that opportunity. Lewis, the only remaining member of the inaugural Ravens roster, played 1,111 out of 1,116 snaps this year.
"We chewed him out when he came out for that, for missing five plays," Pagano said. "You play at the level that he's played at for 15 years because of your due diligence in the weight room in the offseason, watching tape and taking care of yourself.
"He's taken great care of his body and he understands that his body is his earning power and what's made him. There is not a more passionate guy. Standing next to Ray Lewis and just knowing that you're going to war with him … it's a very, very comforting feeling."