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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 54 Levine brings creativity, impressive résumé to special teams BY STACY CLARDIE T ony Levine may only have been at Western Kentucky for one season, but, consistently, his players were in awe. Levine proved the reputation there he'd already estab- lished: As a special teams guru. He came across as a kind of prophet, foreshadowing muffed punts, blocked punts and mighty kickoff returns. It showed up in Week 1 in 2016, his ability to predict outcomes. Levine told his players Rice was using a new long snapper, so the kid probably would sail the ball over the punter's head on his first snap. That's exactly what happened, as WKU got the benefit of a 23-yard loss in the form of a safety. It showed up again in Week 3. Levine stood in front of his kickoff return team and told them they were going to return one for a touchdown against Miami (Ohio). If not for one player tripping and another being tackled near the 10-yard line, meaning mere 41- and 79-yard re- turns, he'd have been right on again. It showed up in Week 6, his propensity once again for prognostication. Levine told his head coach before the season that for the first five weeks, he would return ev- ery punt opportunity because he knew the unit could block one against Vanderbilt. That's exactly what happened, as Vanderbilt apparently got comfortable thinking it had Levine pegged in that area, and his punt rush team broke free and blocked the punt. "He looks at everything," said WKU captain Marcus Ward, who played under Levine. "In some meetings, we would watch film and he would show us film from his pre- vious special teams, some of the things he used to do, we used to 'ooh' and 'ahh' sometimes. We'd never seen that before. He's kind of like a mastermind, to be honest. There was no game that I can remember where we didn't win the special teams battle. His results, his product speaks for itself. He's just an all-knowing guy as far as special teams goes." Levine is such an accurate predictor of events for one key reason: He has such an eye for detail that rarely does an opponent's tendencies of weakness escape him. That's what the studying is for. Week after week after week, Levine devises new strate- gies and fresh fake-outs, and he'll set up them up weeks in advance, to play the opponents as fools. That's why he tells his head coaches, first at Houston under Purdue grad Kevin Sumlin and most recently with WKU-turned-Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, he's going to be late for offensive meetings. Though he has held offen- sive position assistant jobs at all places — he's Purdue's Tom Campbell Former players have called Purdue's new special teams coordinator Tony Levine a "mastermind" because of his creativity and ability to generate success. 'Mastermind' Special Teams

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