When Jack Wright was announced last week as Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s 22nd head football coach, he went down a checklist.
He said Gulf Coast has everything he could want: Location, high graduation rate, strong administration. He went on to highlight the newly renovated A.L. May Memorial Stadium several times.
During one-on-one interviews with reporters, Wright re-emphasized that point, one he believes will give Gulf Coast an enormous edge.
“Priority No. 1 is getting recruits on campus,” Wright said. “It’s going to be hard for somebody to say no when they see this place. When you walk in the door of this place you’re going to have a good feeling. That’s what recruiting is all about.”
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1. Eyes on campus
Even Tuesday afternoon Wright tweeted out a photo of his new stadium with the hashtag “#Perknation.”
“The only two things I know to do are form a relationship with the family and get them on campus. That’s the formula. Sell your program,” Wright said last week. “As we’re sitting here I think you can see there’s a lot to sell. I don’t think there’s another junior college program in the state who can do what we’re doing, overlooking a turf field. We’ve got to get the kids here, we have to get their eyes on it, and we have to get a coaching staff in place that we can sell. We have to have guys who are going to be known as great football developers.”
Wright acknowledged that his — yet-to-be-named — staff has work to do to catch up to other schools, but he’s hoping they can move quickly with some of the state’s top junior college targets.
2. Local talent
The state’s borders are open when it comes to “recruiting territories,” but Wright said he’s going to focus on South Mississippi talent first and then build out.
“We always start locally and as close to campus as we can get. That means the old Gulf Coast district lines (of George, Jackson, Stone and Harrison counties). That’s what it means to me,” Wright said. “We will be going after the best players in the state of Mississippi from top to bottom.
“We always start locally and there’s plenty of population and talent around here. I-20 and south will be our main focus.”
3. Finding transfers
Additionally, hitting on transfers and their limited out-of-state allotment of players will be crucial for Gulf Coast.
“That’s always a big factor in this league. You look up and the teams that are winning usually do have key transfers in areas,” Wright said. “That was our story (at Northwest C.C.) in 2015. We had a good group of transfers that year.”
Asked specifically on his philosophy with out-of-state players positionally, Wright didn’t list any specific spots.
“Anytime you come across a great player, you take them,” Wright said.
4. New QB
What about the quarterback position? Gulf Coast will need a new one next year after graduating Resurrection’s Larry Sisson and former Ohio State signee Torrance Gibson.
East Mississippi C.C. has made a living off of transfer quarterbacks. Even Wright’s NJCAA championship QB at NWCC, Gardner Minshew, was a Troy transfer (although he prepped at Brandon). Wright didn’t seem hung up on getting a specific type of quarterback, however.
“The football team always begins and ends with the quarterback and so we will try to get the best quarterback available, whether he’s in-state or out-of-state, (whether) he can run better or throw better,” he said. “We want a guy who’s going to impact the game the most.”