Frantzy Jourdain ’97 is now in his fourth season working as a talent scout for the New England Patriots.
It was just after 8 a.m. on August 10, 2006, and former URI football standout Frantzy Jourdain was preparing to board a flight to Philadelphia. That night, he’d be at Lincoln Financial Field to watch the NFL’s Eagles host Cleveland in a preseason tilt.
Jourdain lives the hectic life of an NFL scout these days. Throughout the year, he is constantly on the go, analyzing the potential of thousands of prospects who could help his employer, the New England Patriots.
When your bosses are named Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli, you are in elite company. In his first six seasons as head coach of the Patriots, Belichick has won three Super Bowls, three conference championships, and four division crowns en route to an overall record of 73-34.
Pioli —the team’s vice president of player personnel —has twice been tabbed as The Sporting News’ George Young NFL Executive of the Year (2003, 2004), an honor bestowed upon him by his fellow NFL executives.
Jourdain is now in his fourth season working for Belichick and Pioli and already has been on board for two Super Bowl championships. Despite the success, he understands he is in the initial stages of his career and still has a lot to learn. Eventually he hopes to follow in Pioli’s footsteps and land his own general manager position.
“We spend our time analyzing everything about a player, whether we are watching him on film or in person,” Jourdain said. “When you are coaching, you can tell a kid what he is doing wrong and work with him to fix it. As a scout, you can’t tell a kid what to change. You have to make note of the good things and the bad things and then project whether they fit well into your team’s system.”
Jourdain is living a dream that developed in his youthful years. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native and 1997 URI political science graduate always wanted a playing career, but he has learned that life as a scout can be even more demanding.
“There is never time off for scouts,” said Jourdain, who spent several years coaching at the high school and college levels before his current position. “You are always on the go because you have to stay on top of everything, stay ahead of other scouts. You sacrifice a lot of nights of sleep in order to do what is best for the team. There is no cutting corners if you want to stay ahead.”
As a player at URI (1993-1996), Jourdain experienced constant changes. His career began on offense as a running back, and he led the team in rushing as a freshman. In 1993, he scored three touchdowns in a win over Hofstra and later that season set a school record that still stands when he carried the ball a whopping 46 times in a double-overtime win over Maine.
Injuries derailed his sophomore campaign, and when Jourdain returned he found himself on defense, first as a strong safety and then as a linebacker. At the time, the positional changes were frustrating.
“Looking back, being able to play all different positions helped me understand the entire game,” Jourdain said. “When [former URI head coach] Floyd Keith was moving me around, I didn’t always like it, but I figured he had his reasons. Now it turns out those changes are helping me a lot.”
Before turning to scouting, Jourdain coached three seasons as the defensive coordinator for Southern Durham High School in North Carolina and then made the jump to an assistant position for head coach Greg Gattuso’s staff at Duquesne University.
“When I was in North Carolina, I said I wouldn’t mind being a scout, but I didn’t know anyone in the field,” Jourdain said. “I decided to go on faith, and hopefully I could establish a connection.”
Timing is everything. Jourdain left Southern Durham High to become the defensive back’s coach at Duquesne in 2002. That season, he coached cornerback Leigh Bodden, whose athleticism drew the attention of scouts throughout the NFL. Bodden eventually signed with Cleveland as an undrafted free agent in May 2003 and has since blossomed into a starter for the Browns.
Through the scouting visits for Bodden, Jourdain made several contacts in the NFL, and it wasn’t long before the Patriots called on him and offered him a job in June 2003.
It takes a different kind of passion to stay ahead in the NFL. With every decision comes the added pressure of realizing football at this level is a business. Personnel mistakes cost money, which means the scouts have to do their diligence. The careers of many ride on the success of every move an organization makes.
“We have to analyze everything,” Jourdain said. “This is a business. If you want to be a professional, you have to pay attention to every detail.”
Jourdain learned the importance of paying attention to details while attending URI. The people at URI who helped steer him in the right direction were Sociology Professor Leo Carroll, African and Afro-American Studies Professor Cynthia Hamilton, Assistant Dean of Human Science and Services Nancy Kelly, Coordinator of Advising Programs for Student Athletes Winkle Kelley, and former URI assistant coach (and former player) Terry Lynch ’84, who recruited Jourdain from New York City. Lynch is now the color analyst for radio broadcasts of URI games.
“Growing up in the inner city, I definitely had the dream of being a professional football player,” Jourdain said. “Going to URI was a culture shock. I got to play football, but it was a big adjustment in a lot of ways. I struggled academically and socially, to be honest. When I was struggling at one point Leo Carroll pulled me aside and said, ‘I know you want to be here to play football, but your education is even more important.’”
Carroll impacted Jourdain in a positive way. Carroll showed him why it’s important to be strong in all areas, traits Jourdain now looks for in the football prospects he watches.
“You have to know when you are doing something wrong,” Jourdain said. “You have to listen and be willing to change. When Leo pulled me aside, I knew he cared about me. People who care will not steer you in the wrong way.”
Jourdain still gets back to the Kingston Campus regularly, and each time he makes sure to see the people who helped mold the person he is today.
“I love URI for what it taught me,” Jourdain said. “Those people are part of who I am. If not for them, I would not be here today. The people at URI are always close to my heart.”
By Shane Donaldson ’99Photos By Nora Lewis