The Oakland Raiders have hired Bobby April as special teams coordinator, head coach Dennis Allen announced Saturday.
One of the most respected special-teams tutors in the NFL, April has served as an assistant coach in the league for 21 seasons, including the last three with the Philadelphia Eagles.
April has overseen NFL special-teams units since 1991, when he entered the league with the Atlanta Falcons following an extensive collegiate coaching career.
Last season, Eagles punter Matt McBriar averaged 46.5 yards per punt and punt returner Damaris Johnson returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown at Dallas on Dec. 2, marking a franchise record and tying for the third-longest punt return in NFL history.
In 2011, April successfully integrated a rookie kicker and a rookie punter into the league. Alex Henery set a team record and an NFL rookie record with an 88.9-percent field-goal percentage (24-for-27), connecting on his last 16 attempts. Aprilís punt-return unit, including punter Chas Henry, allowed just 176 return yards, the fourth best in the NFL, and the team ranked third in the league in punt coverage.
In his first season with the Eagles in 2010, Aprilís group ranked seventh in the NFL in net-punting average, ninth in kickoff coverage and 12th in punt-return average. Kicker David Akers led the league in scoring and was selected for the Pro Bowl, while punter Sav Rocca set a franchise record with a 39.0 net-punting average.
Prior to joining the Eagles, April spent six seasons as special teams coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, also serving the final three seasons as assistant head coach. He guided Buffaloís special-teams units to the top ranking in the NFL three times, with regard to the system compiled by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Under Aprilís tutelage, Bills punter Brian Moorman earned two Pro Bowl berths and punt returner Roscoe Parrish led the NFL with a 15.3-yard punt-return average in 2008. April also coached Terrence McGee to a Pro Bowl selection as a kick returner in 2004, when McGee set a franchise record with three kick returns for touchdowns. April was named special teams coach of the year by his peers in both 2004 and 2008.
April began his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, serving as tight ends and special teams coach from 1991-93. He was special teams coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1994-95, helping the Steelers to an appearance in Super Bowl XXX. He was special teams coordinator for the New Orleans Saints from 1996-99 before serving in the same capacity for the St. Louis Rams from 2001-03.
April was an assistant coach at the collegiate level for 13 years, at Southern Mississippi (1978), Tulane (1979), Arizona (1980-86), USC (1987-90) and Ohio State (1991).
A native of New Orleans, April was a four-year linebacker at Nicholls State. April and his wife, Charlene, have five children.