By Darren Nichols
Whenever people look to track the progress of a high school football team, most times they make a bee-line to talk with the head coach or the star players. But often, a football team and program is only as strong as its supporting cast, both on the field and on the sidelines.
When evaluating the prospects of success in the 2021 football season for the Woodland Wolfpack, we chose to look toward the sidelines. Southern Crescent Buzz writer Darren Nichols took time to chat with Woodland’s Jon Davis. Davis is the Wolfpack’s strength and conditioning coach, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, and he weighs in on his part in making Woodland football as successful as possible.
Darren Nichols: Hey coach Davis, so what is the title of your position at Woodland?
Jon Davis: I am the head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Linebackers Coach and Recruiting Coordinator as well.
Nichols: What exactly falls under the duties of Recruiting Coordinator?
Davis: As recruiting coordinator, I serve as the middle man between our student-athletes and college coaches looking to evaluate, recruit and hopefully offer them. As far as day to day duties, they vary given the time of year.
Nichols: Being the middleman and the one that has to vouch for these players, is it hard to give an accurate assessment of them to these college coaches if you build up a close relationship with them?
Davis: No, because I pride myself on being very honest and transparent with players, parents and coaches. Any assessment I give a college coach is one that has already been communicated to the player and parent well before that time.
Nichols: Since talent recognition seems to be a big part of your job, can you tell me what athletes are up and coming — the ones that we should expect to hear a lot of noise from this upcoming season?
Davis: Well we definitely have several in Class of 2022 and 2023.
Class of 2022:
QB- Noah Ross
RB- Joshua Weems
RB- Emmanuel Wesay
WR- KJ Conley
OL- Jabari Edwards
OL- Anthony Winston
LB- Bryan Bennett
LB- Daryll Wilson
SS/OLB- Harrison Turman
Class of 2023:
CB- Camani Cobb
DL- Jaxson Hickson
DL- Ty Holiday
SS/OLB- Thomas Putman
WR- Dakota Fishback
Nichols: Out of that list of names, can you give me two that you feel can really stand out and make their mark next year.
Davis: Our Senior quarterback Noah Ross. He is a big, strong and physical QB. He’s really risen to the ranks of a leader on offense and the team as a whole. Has developed himself as a runner, so combine that with his big arm, things are looking up for him. On the defensive side of the ball we have Ty Holiday. He is a versatile defensive lineman that can play anywhere along the D-line. He has gotten stronger this offseason and really has developed his skill set to be both a run-stopper and pass-rusher. I’ve seen both of these guys have really put in work in the weight room this offseason to play a more physical style of football that we want to play.
Nichols: As the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, what is your goal exactly for these players over the summer?
Davis: Well let me start by saying, I use a yearly program that is periodized and structured throughout the year. During the summer, after making humongous strength gains in the months of January through March, the goal is to continue the strength and size gains, linear speed training and team practices, while also incorporating the edge and developing mental toughness training it takes to play this game. In the past, I’ve utilized my version of the “Fourth Quarter Program” that tests an athlete’s strength, endurance, psychological makeup and sheer will. Simply put, if the offseason was a cake, the summer is the candle you put on top and light!
Nichols: What do you bring to the team that doesn’t necessarily fall under the job description?
Davis: Well (Head) Coach (Julian) Hicks and I agree on several things, two of those things being, coaching kids hard but most importantly being a teacher of the game of football. So with that being said, I believe two of my strengths are that I’m able to coach a player hard and demand the most out of him, but I also know when to slow down, cut the “rah rah” stuff and simply teach kids what I want them to do. Everyone learns differently. I read an article years ago from Jimbo Fisher when he was at Florida State, and it spoke on how he encourages his coaches to show or expose a player to something five different ways before expecting them to master it. So in a nutshell, I’m going to coach and prepare my guys hard, but I never forget at the end of the day that I’m a “teacher of football” so I have more times than not to simply teach.