Homegrown talent is key to football’s relevance

Johnson C. Smith’s football coach Maurice Flowers is determined to leverage his connections with Charlotte-area high schools to recruit talent for the Golden Bulls.

Maurice Flowers takes the grassroots approach to remaking Johnson C. Smith’s football.

Flowers, who was officially announced as coach of the Golden Bulls last week, believes the depth of Charlotte-area high school talent is the key ingredient to making the Golden Bulls relevant after four decades of consistent losses. It’s his job to convince rookies in the JCSU region, which went 16-42 over six years with Kermit Blount as coach, is worth the commitment.

“When you talk about football in Charlotte, and specifically a Johnson C Smith University, we haven’t been successful here in a long, long, long time,” he said. “But the ingredients to start building a championship program are within 40-60 miles, and what I mean by that is the recruiting base.”

Mecklenburg County has been the hub of North Carolina high school football for the past few decades and the region dominates and produces top teams in both Carolinas. Flowers, who coached Olympic, West Charlotte and Chester (SC) High Schools to the playoffs in the early 2000s, understands the importance of building relationships with high school programs.

“Charlotte area football is the strongest in the state of North Carolina,” he said. “It’s not something that I’m making up, but it’s in the fact that you go back to the year 2000 and you go from there. How many state champions of all classifications; how many finalists of state, how many quarterfinalists, semifinalists from the Charlotte area? They just play such good football in this area, a group of good coaches here, and I would just say that’s what we’re going to build on Our roster, when it’s finalized as we head into the future here, hopefully we’ll have 70-75% of our roster from the Charlotte metro area.

It was this attitude that impressed the search committee that recommended Flowers for the job. His deep roots here — Flowers graduated from East Mecklenburg High and was a two-sport athlete at JCSU — were a bonus.

“Coach Flowers’ passion for collegiate athletics and understanding the role of sports in connecting colleges to their communities brings a fresh perspective to football at JCSU,” Athletic Director Steve Joyner said in a statement. . “As a former Golden Bulls football and basketball athlete, Coach Flowers loves his alma mater and is dedicated to continuing a tradition that began in 1892 when JCSU won the first-ever college football game. noir.”

One trend that could work in JCSU’s favor is the growing trend for Division I schools to tap into the transfer portal as a recruiting tool. While scholarship opportunities for high school players shrink at the higher level in favor of experienced academics, smaller programs have a better chance of attracting talent who can play immediately and contribute over the long term.

“So many coaches, because it’s a win-win situation now with them in their schools, they’re really using the portal and the high school players – really good high school players – are being left behind,” Flowers said. … “I will build with the high school student. I believe the situation we are in, we are going to get a few from the portal if there is a position that is essential for us, but I want to recruit the high school athlete and build it year by year .

Attracting talent to JCSU also means upgrading facilities. Flowers said the school is committed to improving the weight room, locker rooms and academic programs, which closes the gap with CIAA Division II and South Atlantic Conference programs. neighbor.

“Our President [Clarence Armbrister] and our AD, they know we were going to make improvements,” Flowers said. “Football is now an arms race in terms of who has good facilities and those things are so important with kids at the moment and parents… not just in season but all year round. … The [are] so much goes into building a championship program and when you really look at the teams that are winning at any level, those are the teams that are investing. No one wins too much by accident anymore.

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