Mandarin promotes Toby Bullock to head football coach

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mandarin didn’t go far in finding its next football coach.

The Mustangs promoted offensive coordinator Toby Bullock to the head coaching position on Thursday morning, keeping the job in-house after parting ways with Bobby Ramsay last month.

Bullock was on staff with the Mustangs during the team’s Class 8A state championship run in 2018 when they stunned Miami Columbus 37-35. Quarterback Carson Beck won the state’s Mr. Football honor under Bullock’s guidance and Ramsay was voted the state’s top coach.

“There was a lot of good things we were already doing. I look forward to putting my stamp on it. Coach Ramsay did some wonderful things there,” Bullock said. “There’s a good foundation there. It’s exciting that I’m not just coming in and having to get to know everybody. … Those are the early growing pains. I feel like I can skip chapter one and go straight to chapter two.”

Bullock is a 2000 Englewood grad who played college football at Marshall. He got his first head coaching job with Wolfson in 2014. Before his time with the Wolfpack, Bullock circled the area at different schools trying to gain as much experience in as many different positions as possible. Bullock coached at Englewood, First Coast, Creekside and Ponte Vedra before taking the job at Wolfson.

“When I got into it, I knew that was part of it. I purposely took certain jobs to get certain experience just trying to strengthen my areas to one day be in this position,” he said.

Staying in-house with the hire should make the move a seamless tradition. Bullock calls Mandarin his “dream job,” and can’t wait to put his own stamp on the program. Injuries hurt the Mustangs this season, including the loss of stellar freshman quarterback Tramell Jones after seven and a half games. Mandarin finished 5-5.

“Coach Bullock has such a strong passion for coaching, Mandarin High School, our community, and teaching our young men to be successful on and off the field,” Mandarin athletic director Brian Rado said in an email. “We look forward to many incredible things to come under his leadership.”

Bullock will have a far greater canvas to work on than his first head coaching job at Wolfson. He took that job under tough circumstances and on short notice.

Wolfson had hired Tom Williams for the head coaching position, and he spent just 24 days there before leaving abruptly. Bullock stepped in and spent three seasons with the Wolfpack, going 2-27 and leading the team as it went from traditional high school into a magnet program. Bullock went to Parker after his time at Wolfson, using that time to refocus on coaching. He went to Mandarin after that and had a blockbuster second season with the program.

“My son plays there. My wife is ecstatic for me to get my dream job. My nephews are actually zoned for Mandarin. I have one godson zoned for Mandarin,” Bullock said. “It’s exciting that if I’m there as long as I hope to be, I can see all those family members come through and play for me there. I’m going to enjoy every single minute of it. Just going to love up my kids, love up my family and love the experience of it.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.