I have been attending football games on a consistent basis since an early age. I was not lucky enough to sustain a football career, but that was primarily due to my focus on my success with lacrosse. Last year, I was blessed to become the head lacrosse coach of Sanderson High School men’s lacrosse team. It is going in to my fourth year coaching at Sanderson, and for the past several seasons, I have been looking to several local coaches for guidance. There are coaches that really impacted my life growing up. Football taught me discipline, compassion for the next man, and to be my brother’s keeper. Let’s take a look at my four area coaches (SAU, Shaw, NCCU, ECU) and learn a little bit more about them and their respective programs.
— Lawrence Davis
Lawrence Davis (LD): What was the first thing you did after becoming the Head Coach?
Adrian Jones (AJ): I started figuring out what players we needed to recruit. The ability to recruit good players is essential to the success of a football program. Thinking about my recruiting strategy on Day 1 was important because I was hired so late in the football year. We were going to have to play catch-up, and I needed to get out there on the recruiting trail.
LD: What are some obstacles that a new coach has to handle?
AJ: When you come in as a new head coach with a new staff, you have to make sure that you get the team to buy-in to your philosophy. You have to do what you can to get everyone on the same page so that you may move forward as a unit. Also, oftentimes, as we all know, a coach is let go when the program doesn’t win games. If this is the case, and you’re coming into a situation where the players have lost morale because they haven’t been winning games, you have to be intentional about changing the culture and the mindsets of the players to a winning culture and a winning mindset.
LD: Defensively, you are losing a tremendous amount of production with your LB’s. Who is looking like the next person who is set to control the middle of the field?
AJ: Keelan Jones is a guy that saw a lot of playing time last year so he is one of the guys that we are depending on to do great things. Andrew Cash will also be a guy that we depend on to step it up this year. We also have two freshmen: Sandonte Fuller and Devon Hunt that have shown some greatness early in camp and we expect them to do great things for our program. With help from my Defensive Coordinator and LB Coach, we will make sure that these guys are prepared mentally and physically come game day.
LD: What does Bruce Parker Jr. mean to this team?
AJ: Bruce means a lot to this football team. He is a lock down corner who can match up with anyone in this league. He has great ball instincts and loves making plays on the ball. He is our starting punt returner, also. Bruce is a great leader on and off the field. He is a remarkable young man. He does so many great things on the field and he is always trying to make the guys coming up behind him better so that when he graduates and is out the door, the next man will be ready to take his place.
LD: With Shambry gone, who is battling for the starting quarterback role?
AJ: We brought in Timothy Abbott, who is a freshman from Coolidge High School in DC, Darren Downing from Louisburg College, and Carlos Quintero, who is, a JUCO (Jr. College) transfer. Those three guys have been battling for the starting position. As of right now, Timothy Abbott is our starter with Darren Downing close behind him. I feel very confident about the QB position and I expect great things from all three of these guys.
LD: Will there be any schematic changes offensively?
AJ: We will be a very balanced football team. Shaw football wants to be able to run the ball and throw ball consistently.
LD: Who is your favorite superhero? Why?
AJ: I am going to go with Superman as my favorite. Superman is the man of steel. He can fly, has x ray vision and has super human strengths. That’s exactly what you need on the football field. You need steel-like focus and determination, the ability to fly to the ball, the ability to see everything happening on the field, and super strength. Every coach wants a Superman, or two, or three, on their team.