East Carolina hosted a clinic for high school football coaches this past
weekend. Score it as another public relations victory for first-year Pirates
coach John Thompson. Golf was available at Ironwood and Thompson moved
around to play two or three holes with different groups on the course.
Registration on Friday for the clinic was free but participating coaches
had to pay for golf and their meals, according to NCAA regulations. High
school coaches could study film and then attend ECU’s practice on Friday
afternoon. Following the Pirates’ workout, individual sessions were
available with the ECU coaching staff.
On Saturday morning, several prominent high school coaches spoke in
Harvey Hall in the Murphy Center. Then the high school coaches could watch
ECU’s scrimmage on Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Dewayne Kellum, the Associated Press coach of the year at Southside High
School, which consolidated Chocowinity and Aurora in Beaufort County three
years ago, said he was impressed with Thompson and the format of the clinic.
He also picked up some helpful information. Kellum’s team reached the state
1-A final in 2002.
“It’s been awhile since East Carolina had a coaching clinic,” Kellum
said. “It’s great going to clinics at UNC and N.C. State, but it’s nice when
you’ve got something at your own back door, too. That’s one reason I
Among area coaches on hand were Harold Robinson of Williamston, Greg
Thomas of Greenville Rose and Bing Mitchell of Beaufort County Northside.
Kellum chose to be in the group mentored by ECU offensive line coach J.B.
Grimes on Friday night. Kellum coordinates the offense at his school, which
has an enrollment of 480. A former Chocowinity quarterback, Kellum wanted
some input on developing his offensive linemen.
“It was kind of a social situation,” Kellum said. “We got more done than
a lot of clinics because there weren’t 90 or 100 in the group. The sessions
were smaller, which allowed more interaction. We got a lot accomplished. It
was very informative.”
Doughnuts, pastry and juice was available on Saturday morning. One thing
that impressed Kellum was that Thompson and his staff were there early to
hear the high school coaches speak beginning at 8 a.m.
“You don’t see the college coaches like that at a lot of clinics,” Kellum
said. “But they were there after a practice on Friday and with a scrimmage
on Saturday afternoon. That was impressive that they were there to hear what
the high school coaches were saying.”
Gerald Odom, the father of ECU defensive coordinator Jerry Odom, was one
of the speakers. The elder Odom is a veteran high school coach in Florida
with several state championships to his credit. He now coaches at Cocoa
“Coach Odom does a lot of stuff offensively that we went to this year and
what he’s doing is basically the direction we want to go,” Kellum said.
“We’ve been a wing T team but we expanded this year with some speed option,
belly option, misdirection option, two backs and one back sets. It was
basically what Coach Odom has done at Cocoa.
“He had the format to put it all together and made it a much simpler
Hank Sawyer of Lake Taylor High in Norfolk spoke on developing good
relations with college coaches to enhance the recruitment of his players.
Tight end Marc Jones of Lake Taylor signed with ECU in February.
“I like the goal of helping the kids further their education,” Kellum
said. “He said he tells administrators at his school to treat the college
recruiters like gold, even if they’re Division III.”
Kellum spoke about building a program from the ground up, something he
knows about from personal experience at his consolidated school.
“We started from scratch,” Kellum said. “We had people who couldn’t get
in a stance.”
Kellum had coached previously at Chocowinity and said players who came
into that program often knew what to expect.
“We had some kids (at Southside) who had never played football so we had
to kind of refresh our brains to teach them the basics,” Kellum said.
Chip Williams of New Bern spoke on organization and the Bears 2002 run to
the state 4-AA title game.
“Coach Williams had a highlight tape that showed how they had expanded
their offense,” Kellum said.
Robinson, who directed North Carolina to a 28-0 Shrine Bowl victory in
2002, spoke on his organizational approach and talked about the combines he
instituted to help select players for the Shrine Bowl.
Kellum came away from the clinic feeling he had started a relationship
with Thompson and his staff.
“I hope Coach Thompson does well,” Kellum said. “He’s real personable.
Coach (Jerry) Odom is young but he comes from a good background and I’m sure
he’s inherited something there. I was real impressed with his father.
“I was impressed with Coach Grimes, too. Anybody who has coached at Texas
A&M has to know their mess.”