JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New Providence High School football coach Moe Williams has about as good a resume as you will see for a first-time high school head coach.
Standout in college at Michigan. A second-round pick in the NFL. A nine-year NFL career. Started 100 games as a pro. High school assistant coach, connected with the Jaguars as team chaplain.
With all of that past experience, you might think Williams would come into the job at Providence feeling like he was ready to go from day one.
But that’s not the way Williams is approaching his first season as a head coach. Instead, since accepting the job, he’s been reaching out to former teammates and current and former coaches to learn as much as he can before spring practice begins in April.
“I’m learning and just talking to as many people as I can,” Williams said. “I believe that the more people you talk to and gather wisdom, you’ll learn a little bit instead of just jumping in and saying, ‘I got this.’ And so I’ve been talking to coaches, to my high school coaches, and really getting some insight, ‘Hey, how did you do what made you successful?’ It’s been cool.”
One of the former teammates he has spoken with is Todd Fordham, once a fellow offensive tackle with the Jaguars, now an assistant coach at Bolles.
“We have had good conversations, just taking me through the X’s and O’s,” Williams said. “I got a phone call that I have to get to with (former Jaguars’ quarterback) Quinn Gray. We are supposed to talk a little bit about how he did it and he was successful in his high school program. I know Providence and the families that are represented there. And so I’m excited about the kids that I get to work with.”
Williams knows Providence because he spent some time there as an assistant offensive line coach, working with Tony Boselli and then-head coach Jeff Kopp, another former Jaguar. One of the students Williams knows well on the Providence roster is his son, Mason, a ninth-grader playing basketball who will also spend some time on the gridiron.
“He’s 6-foot-1 with a size 16 shoe,” Williams said. “We’re trying to find out what his role will be on the team. So those things make this opportunity exciting.”
In addition to some returning assistants, Williams is reaching out to a number of recognizable names who will join him on the coaching staff. Names like Donovin Darius, Joe Zelenka, Reggie Hayward and Roy Miller are all signed up to be on staff. Greg Jones’ son will be playing, so Williams is looking to bring him in as well. Williams says he has two goals for the program’s first steps: establish consistency and create a culture.
“We have had changes on staff the last four years, just being able to solidify the staff,” Williams said. “And then just create a culture where the kids want to be involved and respond. And part of the fun is going out winning games, but also making a culture where the guys who want to work hard, they understand the importance of coming to practice and really being dedicated to their craft. I think that’s the foundation of having a good program, and just connecting well with the parents and making sure they know that they’re on pace with what we’re doing.”
Williams has lofty goals, including trying to get the Providence program to the level of a couple of other local private schools with championship football pedigrees.
“(Parents are) already sending kids over for basketball and baseball. And we’ve kind of shifted the narrative a little bit like, the football program is good too. I think our program will be really special and will be in talks like Trinity (Christian) and Bolles.”
Providence begins spring practice on April 25.