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From the Field to the Coaching Box

By Joe Mertens '15, 01/31/21, 11:00AM EST


Dave Ragone '98 and Jonathan Gannon '01 were named NFL coordinators for next season

Two former Saint Ignatius High School student-athletes were recently named NFL coordinators.

Dave Ragone '98 is the new offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons and Jonathan Gannon '01 joined the Philadelphia Eagles as defensive coordinator.

Ragone was a two-sport athlete for the Wildcats, as he was a member of the football and basketball program. "Dave was an all-around athlete," says Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69. "There was so much growth physically and mentally from his freshman to junior year." Ragone was the signal-caller for the Wildcats his junior and senior year. "He always had control of the situation; he knew what defense he was facing and had great anticipation," former Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo Hon. ’19 says. "If the secondary made changes to coverages, he could pick that up."

After Ragone's senior season at Saint Ignatius, the quarterback was deciding where to play college ball. He was ready to commit to the University of Pittsburgh. However, a new coaching staff there would change the recruitment process for Ragone. "Dave was in his third-period class when I took him to the side to tell him he got a scholarship from Louisville," Kyle states, "Dave joked that he thought they were just a basketball school but was thrilled at the opportunity."

Ragone stepped foot on the campus of the University of Louisville to play quarterback. Ragone translated his success from Saint Ignatius to the gridiron for the Cardinals. Ragone was 27-11 as a starter for the Cardinals, including an 11-1 record in the 2001 college football season. Ragone finished his college career second all-time in passing for the Louisville football program. He was named to both the All-American honorable mention and the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year three times in his college career.

Ragone was drafted in 2003 by the Houston Texans with the 88th pick in the third round. He was the backup quarterback for former number one overall pick David Carr; however, he would start two games in Carr's absence. In the 2005 off-season, Ragone joined the NFL Europe League with the Berlin Thunder, where he led the Thunder to a win in World Bowl XIII and was named NFL Europe's Offensive MVP. Ragone was inducted into the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

His coaching career began in 2010 as assistant coach for the Hartford Cardinals in the United Football League. In 2011, Ragone joined the Tennessee Titans as wide receiver coach. After his stint with the Titans, Ragone was hired as an offensive quality coach in 2015 for the Washington Football Team (formerly known as the Washington Redskins). In 2016, Ragone was brought in by then-head coach John Fox to coach the Chicago Bears' quarterbacks. The Bears would move on from Fox and hire Matt Nagy; Ragone was the only coach from Fox's staff that Nagy retained. After the 2018 season, the Bears promoted Ragone to the passing game coordinator.

In 2020, Arthur Smith became head coach for the Atlanta Falcons. Ragone was brought in as offensive coordinator to be a part of Smith's staff. Smith and Ragone were coaches together during their time in Tennessee. "I do not doubt that he'll do a phenomenal job," says Restifo, "Dave has picked up so much knowledge from everyone he has coached with in the NFL."

During his time at Saint Ignatius, Gannon was a three-sport athlete playing football, basketball, and track and field. "Jonathan was excellent in all three," Kyle explains. "His work ethic is superb." Gannon was a state champion wide receiver and defensive back for the football team. He was a state champion point guard for the basketball program, in which he made the free throws to secure a 49-46 victory over Cincinnati Elder in the State Championship. He was a district champion hurdler for the track and field program.

"My top three student-athletes that I've seen come out of Saint Ignatius are Mike Buddie '89, Brian Dowling '65 and Jonathan Gannon '01," says Restifo."Gannon had boundless energy with every sport he played at Saint Ignatius."

"I met (Jonathan) for the first time when my family was going to go watch the final four-game where Saint Ignatius played Canton McKinley in basketball,” says friend and former teammate, Ryan Franzinger '02. "Gannon was the ultimate competitor in high school and carries that now as a coach in the NFL, “Franzinger explained.

Like Ragone, Gannon was recruited to play football at the University of Louisville, where he played safety for the Cardinals. Gannon played a limited amount of time his freshman year but still recorded nine tackles for the Cardinals. In 2003, Gannon suffered a serious hip injury that kept him out his sophomore season. In the 2004 college football season, Gannon attempted to make a comeback for the Cardinals. However, Gannon could not play at the level he once did prior to his injury.

"We try to get together over the summer and talk some ball.”says Franzinger. “He wants to know what I'm doing with the defense and linebackers."

Gannon began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Coach Bobby Petrino's staff at Louisville. In 2007, Petrino brought Gannon on to his staff with the Atlanta Falcons as a quality coach. Gannon worked his way into a college scout position with the Saint Louis Rams in 2011 and in 2012 was a scout for the Tennessee Titans. The Minnesota Vikings hired Gannon in 2014 as a defensive backs coach under Mike Zimmer's staff. After the 2017 season, Gannon joined the Indianapolis Colts as a defensive backs coach with Frank Reich's staff.

In 2020, Nick Sirianni was hired as the next head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles; Gannon worked with him in Indianapolis and was brought over to Philadelphia to be the defensive coordinator. "He is ready for it. His name was popping up for a few years; this was the right opportunity," says Franzinger.

Both Ragone and Gannon lead by example, working their way to the NFL coordinator roles, guiding the athletes on – and off - the playing field. They are great examples of Ignatius men forever.