Brandon Brown was East St. John’s man in motion Tuesday afternoon.
On the opening day of spring football practice, the Wildcats’ new head coach was bouncing around from work station to work station with boundless energy.
“That’s probably the biggest adjustment, coming here from where I was at St. Helena. Being a 2A program, I was more hands-on. I was coaching a position, just because we didn’t have the number of staff,” Brown said. “Now I’m in a role where I can be more of a facilitator.
“I know my expectations. I know what I want. I can move around and demand not just my guys at a certain position, but each and every one of them. That’s also with the coaches. I told the coaches I will do everything I can to hold them accountable as well. I want them to hold the kids accountable but I will do my job to hold the coaches accountable, as well.”
The new head coach, who officially began work at East St. John on Monday, was not especially pleased with everything he saw.
“Not just being a coach, but being a fan. As an alumnus, I’m not pleased with what I see. I really want to make a change. That’s something I told the kids; I’m going to be real hard on them because I have pride. It’s home. This is me. I told them that when I tell you something, it’s not just for you, it’s for me. We are doing it together and I’m real excited about the kids and the reception I’ve been getting. The kids are buying in and the ones that are not, they’re not here. That’s how it’s going to be. We will do things the right way.”
The Wildcat players were constantly engaged in the art of football with no idle time.
“I have kind of been back and forth and just watching – how they left weights, how they do their conditioning. That’s one of the things I expressed my displeasure with the coaches that I just didn’t like the wasted time, the wasted motion, the kids not moving, the kids not being involved,” Brown said.
Even little things will matter, Brown said, in trying to turn around the culture at East St. John.
“It will be everything from the way we stretch, how we come in and out of the locker room; everything will be different. It will be the real Wildcat Pride,” the new coach said.
One thing that no one will see over the next two weeks will be the Wildcats in full gear.
“We will not put pads on. We will use this time to teach; to teach and implement our system and our plays. It kind of gives me an opportunity to see who’s who – who can move, who can run and catch and who can to those intangible things,” Brown said.
The idea of no full pads was not just one of philosophy, Brown said, but was necessity.
“From a safety standpoint, when I came in just doing routine inventory stuff, I had to send all the helmets out to be reconditioned. Not having that equipment, we will just take these days to learn and we will teach. We will do a great job of teaching. I told my coaches that we will take advantage of this. We can slow down and focus on the fundamental things. Let’s get it right the first time so we don’t have to go back and do it over.”
Because of the late timing of his hiring, Brown’s original intention was not to have any spring workouts, opting for an extra week in the fall. That changed once Brown was on campus.
“It goes back to my displeasure with the state the program was in,” he said. “I kind of came in and observed. I didn’t say much. I came in with a suit and tie and some of the kids didn’t know who I was the first day. I had to have a meeting with them and explain who I was because they just saw a guy with a suit. But I kind of observed and saw the way guys were working. There were some things I liked and some that I didn’t.
“To forfeit the entire spring and not being able to put my imprint on it, I think I would be doing myself and injustice and also the kids.”