Lake Named DBs Coach

Carnell Lake was named to the All-Decade Team of the '90s after a spectacular career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Monday he began a new era as an assistant coach.

Carnell Lake is coming home.

The 43-year-old former star strong safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers was today named the team's defensive backs coach, replacing Ray Horton, who took a job as defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.

Lake played for the Steelers from 1989 to 1998 and was named to the Pro Bowl four times. With the Steelers, Lake had 21.5 sacks, 16 fumble recoveries and 16 interceptions. He was a game-changer whose play in a 1996 win over Jacksonville -- a sack of Mark Brunell, forced fumble, and 90-yard touchdown return -- was cited by Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin when he signed Lake away on the first day of free agency in 1999.

However, Lake was still slowed by a foot injury that plagued his last season with the Steelers. After the 1999 season, Lake underwent three surgeries and sat out the 2000 season. He finished his career with the Baltimore Ravens and played his final game at Heinz Field in the Ravens' 2001 playoff loss to the Steelers.

Lake's father Eugene lived in Midland, Pa., but went off to play football at the University of Utah and Carnell was born in Salt Lake City.

Lake's father moved back to his Western Pa. family, but Carnell went to Los Angeles and attended college at UCLA. As a linebacker, he led the Pac-10 in tackles for loss as a junior. The Steelers drafted him with the 34th pick in 1989 and Lake started the opener at strong safety. In the book Men of Steel Lake said that the key to earning the coaching staff's trust that preseason was that "I watched Rod Woodson like a hawk" and "picked it up like a sponge."

Lake broke in under coordinator Rod Rust and coach Chuck Noll, but perhaps his most important role was orchestrated by coordinator Dick LeBeau and coach Bill Cowher in 1995.

After Woodson was injured in the opener, the Steelers sunk to 3-4 that year before Lake was moved to left cornerback. The Steelers won eight straight games to make the playoffs, and in the first round Lake intercepted a pass against the Buffalo Bills.

The Steelers made the Super Bowl that season, a game in which Woodson returned from his ACL injury. Lake moved back and forth between strong safety and cornerback throughout the remainder of his Steelers career.

Lake retired to Jacksonville after the 2001 season and spent time with his wife and three children. He returned to the game in 2009 as the cornerbacks coach at UCLA. He was recently praised by draft prospect Rahim Moore during Moore's combine press conference, but Lake resigned his position after only one season due to "family reasons."


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