Carnell Lake To Be part of Todd Haley’s Employees As DC Of USFL’s Memphis Showboats

Who says Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t have a coaching tree? His roster has recently continued to expand—albeit outside of the NFL, with one of his most notable proprietary hires joining the ranks of the USFL.

Former Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake will be joining the coaching staff of the Memphis Showboats this upcoming season. He will work under head coach Todd Haley. Tomlin hired Haley as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator in 2012, where he served for six seasons.

Lake, a former Pro Bowl defensive back for the Steelers, was first hired in 2011 to coach their defensive backs. He succeeded longtime secondary coach Ray Horton after the latter secured a defensive coordinator opportunity. Horton has recently become head coach of the USFL’s Pittsburgh Maulers.

He served as their defensive backs coach for seven seasons before opting to walk away from coaching at the time. The Steelers ranked first in passing yardage in each of his first two seasons on the job, and first in points in 2011, but the bottom began to fall out afterward.

They ranked 27th in passing defense by 2014, featuring injury-plagued seasons for Troy Polamalu, Cortez Allen and Ike Taylor. It only got worse a year later with a secondary featuring Antwon Blake, Will Allen and Ross Cockrell.

Things turned around by his final season, with a top-five passing defense featuring Joe Haden and Mike Hilton. His reputation could have been better had he gotten to coach the likes of Haden longer and had Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The Showboats, meanwhile, are essentially a replacement team for the Tampa Bay Bandits, who announced a hiatus in 2022. The Showboats are largely the same team, under Haley as head coach, and yes, Lake was even there last season. But it was only just announced that he would be coaching Memphis’ defense. He served as the Bandits’ defensive backs coach in 2022, and in 2023 he will act as the Showboats’ defensive coordinator, replacing Pepper Johnson.

The Showboats were a part of the original USFL during the 1984-85 seasons, most notable for once rostering the great Reggie White. The original league lasted only three seasons but encompassed 16 different franchise, of which eight at a time (nine now in total with Memphis ‘returning’) have been featured in the restarted league, which opened operations in 2022.

Their current roster does feature some players with Steelers ties, albeit some tenuous. Running back Kerrith Whyte had some regular-season experience, while tackle Jarron Jones was a practice squad tackle until league issues resulted in them cutting him. He is the brother of edge rusher Jamir Jones. Local defensive back Lamont Wade spent time in training camp with the team in 2021.

The Showboats will open their USFL season on April 15 against the Philadelphia Stars. The Stars lost the championship game to the Birmingham Stallions in 2022. As the Bandits, Haley’s team went 4-6 last season, finishing third in the South Division.

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