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Three Rensselaer Staff Promotions Announced

More news about: RPI

TROY, N.Y. - Three members of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football staff have earned new titles and responsibilities, Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Lee McElroy has announced. Serving in new roles on head coach Ralph Isernia's staff are Jeff Dittman, who is now the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator, Nick Marcella, the new offensive coordinator, and Keith Larson, who is now the special teams coordinator.

"At RPI, I am fortunate to work with the best coaches in college football," Isernia said. "Jeff, Nick and Keith are excellent teachers, mentors and role models for our student-athletes. Their knowledge of the game, technical prowess and ability to impart their knowledge put them among the elite coaches in the country. Their careers at RPI have helped us achieve tremendous success and we look forward to building on our great tradition. We are excited to get started."

Most recently the special teams coordinator and defensive line coach, Dittman rejoined the Rensselaer staff in March of 2016. Last season, the Engineers ranked first in the Liberty League in rush defense (95.9 yards allowed per game) and second in passing defensive efficiency (113.1). On special teams, they were first in kickoffs (42.0 net yards per) and punt return average (11.8 yards per). 

Dittman, who also directed the team's community service efforts, came back to Rensselaer after spending nearly four years at the University of Albany as the director of football operations, special teams coordinator and defensive assistant. The Pleasantville, N.Y., native devised schemes and game plans for all areas of special teams, established practice plans and depth charts and recruited. He was also responsible for in-season travel, roster management, clinics and special events and held a supervisory role with interns, work-study students and volunteers. He was also the liaison to the academic advising office.

While at Rensselaer from July 2011 to June 2013, Dittman worked with the defensive line, special teams and defensive backs. He assisted with game planning as well as various in-game responsibilities, while also coordinating video breakdown and exchange, and the team's year-end banquet and annual alumni golf outing. He was also an admissions associate who spoke about the Institute's academic programs, application process and history to prospective students who visited the Troy campus.

Dittman came to Rensselaer from St. Lawrence University, where he spent three seasons and helped the Saints to the 2010 Liberty League title and NCAA Tournament. He is a member of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and has worked as a clinician at numerous camps.

As a student-athlete, Dittman was a two-time captain as a linebacker at Hartwick College, where he played from 2003 to 2006 before graduating with a bachelor's in accounting. He later earned a master's in general studies from St. Lawrence in 2009.

Marcella, a native of North Bridgton, Maine, has been with the Engineers for three seasons, serving as the passing game coordinator for one season while coaching the wide receivers, running backs and tight ends in that span. He helped the team average 345.5 yards per game, including 167.7 through the air, with 40 total touchdowns in 11 contests. In 2016, Rensselaer's running backs ran for 2,512 yards in 11 games, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 228.4 yards per game with 22 touchdowns. With the receivers the year prior, Marcella led the group to 2,338 yards in 11 games, an average of 212.5 per contest. They averaged 12.4 yards per catch with 20 touchdowns. 

A 2015 Saint Anselm College graduate with a degree in communications, Marcella came to Troy with experience coaching wide receivers at various camps and clinics. He also participated in the NCAA's Career in Sports Forum, a four-day conference focused on cultivating careers in intercollegiate athletics, in June 2015 and was selected to participate in the AFCA 30 Under 30 Coaches' Leadership Institute in Nashville in January of 2017.

Marcella was a four-year wide receiver at Saint Anselm, catching 69 passes for 624 yards and a touchdown in 33 games for the Division II Hawks. 
 
Larson has coached at Rensselaer for the past two seasons, mentoring the defensive backs while assisting with special teams and handling football operations. In his time in Troy, the team led the league in interceptions both years, registering 13 in 2016 and 23 in 2017. Last season's total ranked in the top five in all of Division III and three defensive backs earned All-Conference. Two were honored as All-Liberty League the year before.

A native of Belvidere, Ill., Larson spent two years at Robert Morris University in Chicago, where he also coached the cornerbacks and safeties and was responsible for operations, while also being an athletic admissions and financial aid counselor.

Larson graduated from Valparaiso University with a degree in business management. He was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders, earning recognition as a special teams captain in 2013 in addition to playing safety. He completed a master's of management in sports administration at Robert Morris in December of 2015.

Rensselaer is coming off a season in which it had an 8-3 record, captured the Liberty League title and earned a bid to the NCAA Playoffs. The 2018 season begins on Saturday, September 1.

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