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Norvell brings Lembo to Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Pete Lembo has agreed to become the Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator it was announced by Memphis head coach Mike Norvell, Tuesday. Lembo spent last season at Rice and before that, served on the staff at Maryland as assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. At both stops, his special teams ranked among the best in the country.

His 2018 Rice special teams ranked fifth in the FBS with just 16.12 kickoff return yards allowed and 15th with 24.41 kickoff return yards per game. Punter Jack Fox was named a Ray Guy Award semifinalist after ranking eighth in the country with a 45.5 yards per punt average. Fox led the nation with 3,636 punting yards, had 26 punts of at least 50 yards and had 31 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Kick returner Austin Walter earned honorable mention all-conference honors with 491 kick return yards and place kicker Haden Tobola, who hit just one field goal in 2017, earned all-conference honors in 2018, setting the Rice single season record for field goal percentage (90.9 percent) after going 10-for-11 in 2018. As a unit, Rice’s special teams ranked 17th in the country in the ESPN Team Efficiency Rankings (60.8 percent), after ranking 114th the season before Lembo’s arrival.

In his time at Maryland, Lembo’s special teams ranked as some of the best in the country. In two seasons at Maryland, the Terps tied for fifth nationally with nine blocked kicks. The Terps’ kick return defense over the same two seasons ranked 25th and 21st nationally under Lembo’s guidance.

“We have hit a home run with the addition of Pete Lembo, his wife, Jen, and children Sophia, AJ, and Victoria to our Memphis football family,” Norvell said. “Coach Lembo brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience into our program while being regarded as one of the elite Special Teams Coordinators in the country. Coach Lembo does an incredible job of utilizing the skills and talents of young men he leads in each phase of the kicking game, while implementing an aggressive and innovative approach in each unit. Pete is a phenomenal leader of men and will add tremendous value to our staff with over 15 years of successful head coaching experience, which will be another great resource for us to rely on.”

Lembo spent five seasons as the head coach at Ball State (2011-15), where the Cardinals set more than 60 school records, including single-season records for points (501), total offense (6,199 yards), passing yards (4,214), touchdown passes (35) and total touchdowns (64) in 2013. He sent a number of former Cardinals into the NFL, including wide receiver Willie Snead, defensive end Jon Newsome and quarterback Keith Wenning. He also coached two-time All-MAC tight end Zane Fakes, who was a 2013 NFF Campbell Trophy semifinalist.

His Ball State special teams also ranked among the top of the Mid-American Conference, leading special teams statistics in each of his five seasons. Place kicker Steve Schott was a Lou Groza semifinalist and punter Scott Kovanda was a 2012 Ray Guy finalist. In 2014, place kicker Scott Secor was named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year.

In five seasons, Lembo posted a mark of 33-29, improving his career coaching mark to 112-65 in 15 seasons. He was the first head coach in Ball State history to win at least 30 games in his first four seasons. He guided the Cardinals to a 9-4 record and an appearance in the 2012 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl and a mark of 10-3 and a 2013 appearance in the GoDaddy Bowl, just the second time in the Cardinals’ 91-year history the team went to back-to-back bowl games.

A 1992 graduate of Georgetown University, Lembo was a four-year starter on the offensive line and served as the team captain in 1991.

He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Albany (1992-93), then spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Dartmouth (1994-96) and a season at Hampden-Sydney (1997) before joining the staff at Lehigh in 1998. There, Lembo started as an assistant coach before being named the head coach in 2001. In five seasons at the helm of the Lehigh program, he posted a 44-14 mark, leading Lehigh to the 2001 and 2004 Patriot League Championships and berths in the FCS playoffs. His .759 overall winning percentage and .778 league winning percentage are the second highest in Patriot League history. He was named the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year and the Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2001 when his team finished 11-1 and ranked fifth in both NCAA I-AA polls.

In 2006, Lembo took over the Elon program. Over the next five years, Lembo led the Phoenix to 35 wins, more than doubling their win total from the previous five years (14). Lembo’s Elon teams broke 124 NCAA, Southern Conference and school records and sported a 24-14 record in the Southern Conference. He was named the SoCon Coach of the Year in 2007. From 2002-10, Lembo served as a member of the FCS Head Coaches Executive Committee. He also served on the All-America Selection Committee (2001-05) and the AFCA Public Relations Committee (2002-05).

Lembo left Elon to take over the program at Ball State in 2011. In 2014, he served as a member of the AFCA Ethics Committee. He left Ball State in 2016 to join the staff at Maryland. His 2016 Terrapins squad ranked 11th in the nation with four blocked kicks and fifth in 2016 with five blocked kicks. His 2017 Maryland unit ranked 11th out of 130 FBS programs in ESPN’s Special Teams Efficiency rankings.

A native of Staten Island, New York, Lembo is married to the former Jenifer Kochis. The couple has three children: Sophia, A.J. and Victoria.

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