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California high school hires one former NFL star to replace another

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

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Former Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman is the new head coach at Bishop O'Dowd — Getty Images

Former Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman is the new head coach at Bishop O'Dowd — Getty Images

Among all the qualifications needed to be the head football coach at Bishop O'Dowd High (Oakland), the school seems to put special emphasis on one very specific trait: they must have NFL experience. While that wouldn’t seem to be necessary for teaching high school players the ropes, its a background that both departing coach Hardy Nickerson and incoming head man Napoleon Kaufman share.

According to the Contra Costa Times, Kaufman was officially announced as Nickerson’s varsity replacement at Bishop O'Dowd on Monday. Nickerson — a five-time Pro Bowler as a linebacker for the Steelers, Buccaneers, Jaguars and Packers — announced that he would be leaving the program at the end of the season in November, after which the O'Dowd administration decided that Kaufman — a running back for the Raiders for five seasons after finishing his collegiate career as Washington's all-time leading rusher — was the ideal man to fill his shoes.

Kaufman spent the previous season as the O'Dowd freshman coach, his first at the school. When he becomes the varsity coach in 2014, one of the players he’ll be coaching is his son, Napoleon Jr.

"We believe our young men will benefit greatly from Napoleon’s positive outlook and leadership," O'Dowd principal Pam Shay told the Times.

O'Dowd Athletic Director Mike Bowler noted Kaufman's "vision, person and background." as key reasons why he was the ideal man for the O'Dowd head coaching job, even if he and the rest of the O'Dowd community is sad to see Nickerson depart after four years with the school. The former All-Pro linebacker finished with a 29-17 overall record at the school, including a rough 3-7 record in 2013.

"I felt like there were other things that I wanted to pursue that are not football-related," Nickerson said. "Bishop O'Dowd has been great. The administration has been great."

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Cameron Smith is the editor of Prep Rally on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at preprallyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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