ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– There is only one new head football coach in the NIC-10 this year. He’s Willie Tolon at Auburn. Tolon was a playmaker as a receiver at East High School 20 years ago. He just might have some playmakers at Auburn too.
There’s always an adjustment period when a new coach steps into a program.
“The vibe has been really good,” said Tolon. “It started off a little sketchy until they got used to my ways. I’m a little stern at times. I don’t know if they’re used to that, but they’re going to get used to that.”
The Knights will also get used to playing up-tempo. That’s the style Tolon wants, and he has the right personnel to do it. The Knights have plenty of speed all over the field.
“As a unit these guys fly around.”
Receiver/cornerback Jeremiah Walker sees that speed every day at practice. “Every skill position has speed. Receiver, slot, running back, quarterback and then on the opposite side of the ball our forces, corners, our safeties.”
The Knights plan to bring a mix of the run and the pass. Senior Oshavian Dismuke is back. He led the NIC-10 in passing yards last year. He’ll play some quarterback, but his main position this year will be slot receiver.
“I want to show that I’m versatile, and I’m able to play on both sides of the ball at slot and safety.”
“I’m excited for him,” said Tolon. “He’s got very good feet. He runs very good routes. I can’t wait to get the ball in his hands.”
Taking over at quarterback is junior Anthony Purifoy. Tolon is high on Purifoy.
“For him to be a junior, he’s very mature, and he throws a very good ball. The team respects him.”
Some of the other receivers on the team will be Jeremiah Walker, Athavion Coleman, and Brandon Ferguson. The running back duties go to Nyvion Jackson and P.J. Dubose.
Many of the guys I’ve mentioned on offense will also play on the defense, so there will be speed on that unit.
What’s the biggest thing you need the players need to buy into this year from Tolon to get this program headed in the right direction?
“My vision for them,” said Tolon. “I see us as a playoff team, and I need them to buy into that. I’m preaching, I’m preaching, I’m preaching.”
The biggest difference I’ve noticed is the intensity that he has,” said Dismuke. “He makes the players also want to be here. He wants us to be better. He wants to bring out the Dawg in us. I love that.”