BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
Up until the past two weeks, I had never heard of the University of Fort Lauderdale (UFTL), but when an administrator brought it to my attention, then I became curious to see if this school had a football program.
After that, I went through the proper channels and proceeded to do some research on this school which is located in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Lauderhill, FL which is 30 minutes west off Sunrise Blvd.
The University of Fort Lauderdale has an enrollment of 450 students.
It competes in the South Region of Division I of the NCCAA and fields eight teams.
When I found out that this university is named the Eagles, it brought memories when I graduated high school from the Lakeland Eagles in 1981 back in Milford, MI.
The most intriguing part of doing this story is that I have a passion for covering new sports programs.
I started working with the Florida Atlantic Owls in 2007 and reunited with Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger, whom I worked with at the University of Miami in 1982. I’ve watched the progression of FAU as the Owls have grown into playing in the American Athletic Conference.
There is no better person to build this program than a local coach, who knows how to recruit South Florida.
Miami native Damon Cordell, 48, joined UFTL as head coach in 2022.
Prior to joining UFTL, Coach Cognell had many successful coaching jobs at the High School level and collegiate ranks such as West Virginia University (WVU) and the University of South Florida.
Cordell was a standout linebacker at West Virginia, lettering in 1997 and 1998.
He posted 66 tackles as a senior and finished his career with 107. He earned his bachelors degree from WVU in 1999.
He went on to start at linebacker for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League from 2000, 2001 and was part of the Lions 2000 Grey Cup Championship.
Cogdell’s best coaching stop occurred at Miramar High School from 2002-2013, serving as head coach and defensive coordinator since 2007, and defensive coordinator throughout his stint. He also served as the school’s athletic director.
Cogdell compiled an impressive 72-19 record as head coach and led Miramar to the 2009 Class A State Championship and a 2011 runner-up finish.
He was selected the 2009 High School Coach of the Year by Nike, the Black Coaches Association of America, the Miami Herald and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
Cogdell was the first runner-up for National High School Coach of the Year by the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in 2012. Miramar’s 2009 defense gave up just 122 yards per-game, while the 2011 team gave up just 143.
He coached more than 50 players that went on to play collegiate football, including West Virginia standouts Geno Smith, an All-Big 12 quarterback in the second round of the NFL Draft by the New York Jets, and wide receiver Stedman Bailey, a first team All-American selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the St.Louis Rams.
There is no doubt that Cogdell is the best kept secret in the coaching circles.
In addition to his role as head coach, Cogdell is the Athletic Director for UFTL. He’s the one tasked into building this program in the manner he sees fit. I can relate to what he’s doing because I’ve enjoyed taking a bad situation and turning it around, or building a situation from scratch.
On Thursday, Coach Cogdell and I spent time together and talked about his vision for UFTL.
Check out the video in this story. I know that many of us can appreciate where he’s coming from and the challenges he faces.
Cognell knows that he has a chance to set a good example for African American Coaches that aspire to inspire others to pursue their dreams.
There is no better place to start and this is “The New Game In Town.”
Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@Gmail.com and you can find him on Twitter/X @TribuneSouth.
To see his broadcasts, there is no cost to subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.