Eisenbarth returns as line coach

Inspecting the troops Washburn offensive line coach Eric Eisenbarth patrols practice Tuesday afternoon as the No. 15 Ichabods prepare for No. 11 Missouri Western this weekend. Eisenbarth was a second team All-American offensive tackle for Washburn in 2007.

Robert Burkett

The shouts of coaches and crash of pads ring out through the confines of Yager stadium as Washburn goes through the motions of a Tuesday afternoon practice.

In the case of Eric Eisenbarth, offensive line coach, the day is another opportunity to pursue his dream. Eisenbarth starts out practice getting equipment set up for his cadre of workhorse offensive lineman that man the trenches on gameday.

As practice breaks into individual units, Eisenbarth barks out instructions to the linemen.

“Win today gentlemen! Otherwise stay home on Saturday,” said Eisenbarth.

Knowing what it takes to win as a coach though is something that Eisenbarth takes away from his playing career as well. Going back to Fridays in high school, Eisenbarth led his hometown Holton High football team becoming a three time letterman and finished out his career as a first team 4A all-state lineman. Once done with high school, the choice to go to Washburn made sense to Eisenbarth.

“With Washburn starting to spend the money on new facilities and a new athletics pavilion it was a really easy choice to make,” said Eisenbarth.

Throughout the recruiting process that brought the young football player to campus, the coaching staff at Washburn had always looked at Eisenbarth as a recruit of note.

“He was a pretty special player at Holton high and we worked hard to bring him to Washburn,” said Craig Schurig, Washburn head football coach.

At Washburn, Eisenbarth immediately made an impact as a freshman, starting along the defensive line which in itself is something uncommonly seen.

“Usually with the line, we have players redshirt because of the size difference in kids coming out of high school but Eric was able to make the transition immediately with his size and strength,” said Schurig.

Initially playing the first year on defense, Eisenbarth, who had played both offense and defense in high school, was asked to make the move to offensive line to fill a need and assist the development of the unit. He would eventually go on to earn first team all-MIAA and second team all-America honors his senior year.

After ending his playing career Eisenbarth, who still had a year left in school was pondering what he would do next when Schurig called on him once again.

“I was just relaxing and Coach Schurig offered me the chance to be a [graduate] assistant on the staff to help pay for my fifth year of school,” said Eisenbarth.

Serving as a graduate assistant on the staff, Eisenbarth began the process of learning the differences that exist between being a player and embracing the coaching profession.

“I look back on it now and I just wish I had done more,” said Eisenbarth. “Coaching is all about the little things that you have to have an eye for, doing things like breaking down film.”

After serving as a graduate assistant for three seasons, another opportunity came Eisenbarth’s way.

“With coach Allen moving on to [the University of Kansas] a spot opened up on the staff and I just kind of lucked out,” said Eisenbarth.

With the opening came the chance to join the staff full time though Eisenbarth feels that his status as a coach that is only recently removed from his playing days will be a huge asset as he takes on the job of being a full time coach.

“I feel like it will be an extreme advantage for me,” said Eisenbarth. “The guys know that when it gets hot during practice or we face some adversity on game day, that I’ve been there before and know what they are going through.”