The secret to securing a future in the NFL as a coach or executive is as simple as how much you know and who you know.
It's a formula that blended together perfectly for John F. Kennedy graduate Shawn Terlecky. Having just resigned from a three-year stint as a quality control coach at LSU, Terlecky was prepared to make a move out of football.
A week later, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano called Terlecky to check his interest in becoming the assistant to the head coach. The two crossed paths when both were on the staff of North Carolina coach Butch Davis in 2005 - Terlecky was a graduate assistant.
Terlecky jumped at the opportunity.
"It's hard to get into the league in any capacity," said Terlecky, who played on JFK's 1991 state championship team. "They are very selective of whom they let in. I'm extremely fortunate they thought enough of me to have a chance to be in the league and work for a great organization."
Terlecky will be learning all the intricacies of what it takes to be a head coach in the NFL. He'll work closely with Pagano in every aspect of his daily routine, whether it's football related or tied to another part of the organization.
"I'm going to be exposed to a lot of different types of things," Terlecky said. "I'll see how a NFL franchise is run from the head coach's side. I'll be side-by-side with him. It will be invaluable from a planning standpoint, and if I'm fortunate enough to get back into coaching, I can't ever replace that. I'll be exposed to a lot of personnel things and how rosters are made."
The opportunity is the best of two worlds for Terlecky. He will be close to the on-the-field aspect of things, which will quench his appetite for coaching. At the same time, he'll have a chance to improve his skills on the personnel side of operations.
"That's the nice thing about the situation," said Shawn's father Bob. "They told him they will key-hole him into whichever he's more suited for and fast track him, too. That's a nice situation for him."
Shawn admits that he had maxed out at LSU. Not seeing a chance to advance his career soon enough, he was willing to take the risk of moving on without another job in place.
"Sometimes things happen for a reason," Shawn said. "People say that when things go their way. I took a leap of faith. There's no more I could have done coming back for year four than I did in three years.
"It (LSU) is a great place to learn how an organization is run. To have access to so many things at the NFL level. I got to go to the combine and network. Things I wouldn't have done at a smaller school."
LSU is regarded as one of the elite programs in FBS competition. Shawn is grateful for everything he learned during his stay in Baton Rouge, including his time around coach Les Miles.
"It's a great place to meet a lot of NFL guys," Shawn said. "Scouts are going through there all the time. What I was able to do was establish relationships with area scouts. Their Pro Day was attended by a who's who because we have guys going off the boards high."
Terlecky can expect to keep hours as long if not longer in Indianapolis than he did in Baton Rouge. Most NFL head coaches arrive at work before the sun rises and remain until late in the evening. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick often slept in his office when he coached the Cleveland Browns.
"His time is valuable during the day," Shawn said. "Everyone wants a piece of him. My job is to kind of be the go between those people and present it concisely to him and to do it the way he wants it done."
Bob, who's coached on the high school level at several area schools, isn't surprised Shawn was presented with such a great opportunity, simply because of his friendship with Pagano from their days at Chapel Hill.
"He got a lucky break," Bob said. "It's all about being in the right place at the right time. It's a fraternity of guys, and when somebody you know gets a job, you're OK."
Shawn is more than OK with the latest move in his career.