There are still those moments when Jules Montinar wants to strap on a helmet and a pair of shoulder pads and deliver one more bone-crunching tackle.

However, most of the time he prefers holding a clipboard and a whistle to practicing, especially on one of those scorching-hot days during training camp.

“Sometimes I want to be out there in the middle of the action,” Montinar said. “There was a fight out here about a week ago right in front of our sideline and I was like, ‘Man, I wish I was playing.’ When the conditioning is going on, I’m glad I’m a coach. But, when the playing is going on, I wish I could be a player.”

Montinar’s playing days are over.

But, another opportunity is just beginning.

After three seasons as a defensive back and a linebacker at Eastern Kentucky Univer-sity, the Naples, Fla., native has joined the team’s staff as a graduate assistant.

Montinar is set to begin a master’s degree program in sports management this fall and hopes to use this entry-level opportunity to jump-start a career as a college coach.

“This is my stepping stone,” Montinar said. “I’m just going to start out here and see where it takes me. I’m just going to bust my butt and learn as much as possible.”

Montinar started his college career at West Virginia. After setting out his first season, he saw limited action in 2004 before transferring to EKU.

Montinar was a back-up defensive back for two seasons before moving to linebacker prior to his senior season. In 2007, he started nine games and was fourth on the team with 72 tackles as the Colonels won their first Ohio Valley Confer-ence title in a decade.

Always considering an extremely intense competitor, Montinar probably could have drawn interest from teams in Canada or in any number of arena leagues across this country, but decided to pursue his education instead.

“As I got older, I started looking at the big picture,” Montinar said. “I knew I wanted to be a football coach. So, the sooner the better.”

Montinar served as a student assistant during the spring while also interning in the weight room. He currently works with the team’s defense and has many different responsibilities, including running the scout team, assisting with the squad’s linebackers and special teams units and setting up and breaking down film for the coaching staff.

“He’s always wanting to learn,” EKU linebackers coach Donn Landholm said of Montinar. “He’s always making sure he gets everything done for the defensive staff. That’s just a reflection of his work ethic.”

There’s certainly been plenty for Montinar to learn.

First-year EKU coach Dean Hood installed a new defensive system when he arrived from Wake Forest and adjusting to the changes has been a challenging and enlightening experience for the 23-year-old.

“That kind of helps me out and gives me another perspective,” Montinar said.

And now that he is coaching many of the same student-athletes he played with the past few years, Montinar has also experienced another new perspective.

“It was a little bit weird back then (in the spring), but now they know how it is.” he said of coaching his former teammates. “I try to not to be on a power trip or anything like. I just want to get my job done and try to help them understand the game. We give each other a hard time and we have fun with it.”

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