MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Williamson head football coach Antonio Coleman didn’t mince words when asked about the growing concerns over illegal recruiting and player transfers in high school football.
“One thing we will not do is play about our kids,” Coleman said at day two of Mobile County Football Media Days. “We are real protective in that Maysville community.”
A day after several Mobile-area football coaches sounded off about “transfer portal” type behavior in high school football, Coleman addressed the same topic — noting that the tradition and close-knit community surrounding Williamson keeps student-athletes in the program.
“All these kids that I have, I went to school with their parent or I know somebody that went to school with their parent, so that’s what we use to our advantage,” said Coleman. “We’re not going out recruiting, we’re going to keep what we’ve got.”
Coleman, a former All-State defensive lineman at Williamson High School, enters his second season leading his alma mater. The Lions staff is filled with alums, including JaMarcus Russell, the number one pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. The coaching staff’s personal ties to the program are a point of pride for Williamson.
“We try to stay within the [Mobile County Public Schools] standards and protocols,” Coleman said in reference to third-parties trying to lure student-athletes to leave his program. “My coaches are outspoken, they’re not scared and they don’t care about job security, I’m just being honest. Because it’s all about the kids. When it comes down to that, I’m the same way. Job security is cool, I love it, but when it comes to those kids, I’ll step outside those boundaries.”
Like Coleman, Vigor High School’s Markus Cook enters his second season at the helm of his alma mater. He shared a similar “close-knit community” take on the growing concern of losing players.
“We haven’t had any kids leave,” Cook said, “Vigor has tradition and the tradition doesn’t really allow that to happen.”
Cook, a 2013 Vigor grad, has been on the Wolves staff since 2017. He served as the co-offensive coordinator during Vigor’s state championship run in 2021.
“When a kid comes to Vigor they know they’re not coming to the excellent facilities. They know they’re not going to have the luxurious things. So when the kid comes wanting to play football and to soar academically, they know what they signed up for,” said Cook.
Both Coleman and Cook acknowledge increased concerns of illegal recruiting in high school football — each one telling WKRG they won’t rest solely on team pride and tradition to keep kids in their program.
“I don’t want my players playing for me for something they can do for me. I’m there to serve my kids,” said Coleman. “So I don’t treat them as such. I treat them like family. Of course you have guys that try to get your players, but Williamson High School and that community is family-oriented.”
“Anything can happen in high school football, a player could up and leave tomorrow. So you still have to cover all bases. Who wouldn’t want these three guys right here?”, Cook asked in reference to the Wolfpack players in attendance at media days — including 5-star offensive lineman and Georgia commit Micah Debose. “You still need to make sure you’re talking to them and reiterating things that are very important.”
Vigor and Williamson, each a part of the Mobile County Public School System, compete in 5A Region 1, the Wolves and Lions will meet on September 15th at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.