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Falcons name Bill Walsh training camp interns

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - The Atlanta Falcons have named Christion Abercrombie, Joan Cantanese, Yosef Fares, Sajan Thakkar and Courtney Upshaw as Bill Walsh coaching interns for the 2022 AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp.

Abercrombie comes to Atlanta having most recently served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Tennessee Titans last offseason. Prior to his time with the Titans, Abercrombie played football at Tennessee State University after transferring from the University of Illinois where he played under Head Coach Lovie Smith. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Tennessee State in 2021. The Atlanta native attended Westlake High School where he totaled 106 tackles (55 solo), 4.0 sacks and four interceptions, earning first-team all-state honors from the Georgia Sports Writers Association, as a senior in 2015.


Cantanese currently serves as an assistant coach at Huntington High School in Shreveport, La., coaching offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks. She also serves as the head coach for the JV and freshmen teams at Huntington, while also coaching the women's track and field team. Cantanese has spent the past 11 years at Huntington where she's coached a variety of sports including football, soccer, basketball and track and field, as well as serving as the middle school's athletic director. She received her Bachelor of Science in Heath and Physical Education from Louisiana Tech University. This year, Cantanese participated in the NFL Women's Forum in March.

Fares is the head coach at Justin Garza High School in Fresno, Calif., where he's coached for the past two seasons. Prior to coaching at Justin Garza, Fares spent one season (2020) as the head coach at Bullard High School in Fresno, Calif., and four seasons (2016-19) as the head coach at Madera (Calif.) High School. He's also served as a varsity wrestling coach and a strength and conditioning coach. Fares began his coaching career as an assistant JV coach at Bullard in 2003 after earning a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from California State University. He also earned his Masters of Education from National University in Fresno, Calif.

Thakkar currently serves as the running backs coach at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. In four seasons as the running backs coach at Harvard, the Crimson have had three different running backs earn All-Ivy League honors, including Aaron Shampklin, who led the Ivy League in rushing yards, yards per carry and rushing touchdowns in 2021. Prior to Harvard, Thakkar served as the offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at SUNY Maritime College in Bronx, N.Y., from 2016-17, after spending two seasons (2015-16) as the defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator at SUNY Maritime. Thakkar began his coaching career as the running backs coach at his alma mater, Fitchburg (Mass.) State University where he played quarterback and wide receiver from 2010-12.

Upshaw is currently an assistant coach at Grayson High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., where he coaches the defensive line. He previously served as a defensive line intern at the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2020. Upshaw was originally selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Alabama where he was a two-time BCS National Champion and a first-team All-American in 2011. He played six seasons (2012-17) in the NFL with the Ravens and the Falcons and won Super Bowl XLVII with Baltimore before winning the 2016 NFC Championship with Atlanta.


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