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February 28, 2012


I had the privilege of chatting with Permian head coach Gary Gaines and running backs coach, Jerale Badon last week. Badon is a familiar name as one of the top high school receivers in the state as a wide receiver for Abilene High.

He also set just about every Lone Star Conference receiving record while at ACU. He joined the Permian staff from SA Lake View last July and was an integral part of why the Panthers went from 0-5 in district to a playoff berth.

It was Gaines' first year back, and the program was facing an extremely negative and hostile Permian fan base. OK, maybe hostile is a bit much, but those Permian fans want a winner, and 0-5 wasn't cutting it. These are the fans that used to charter jets to fly the team to Dallas.

During the off-season last year, Gaines lost about half of his coaching staff and retooled with some up and comers with no limit potential (including Badon).

They turned things around and, according to Gaines, everybody is "back on track in terms of upholding the tradition." Permian faithful would have it no other way.

Gaines is as comfortable as ever in his role as head coach at Permian. He is tradition, greatness, and history personified. But you'd never know he was an all-time great coach. His demeanor and humility matches that of the local grocery bag guy at HEB.

Badon is the same. Total, complete greatness sitting in front of you, and if he didn't look like some sort of marble statue, you'd think he was supposed to be taking your ticket at the movie theater...humble, unassuming, unpretentious.

That kind of demeanor and style breeds winners and championships. And those are the types of coaches and players Gaines has always surrounded himself with.

The Panthers have rebuilt from the ground up and now have a very positive outlook for 2012. Their QB and RB both return. They also get back two OL, a WR, the whole secondary, and a big DT.

Gaines thinks they can fill in the rest with backups from last year and a JV that has a handful of really good football players on the roster. He said they may even have a sophomore or two on varsity to gain some invaluable experience.

Spring pads begins on April 30. To Gaines and the rest of the coaching staff, spring training is a time to develop depth, figure out which kids need to play what positions, and - most importantly - not get anyone hurt.

Badon played one year for Gaines at ACU and is having a blast in Odessa. Coming from a tradition-rich program like Abilene High, Badon says that the Permian aura is different...that it grows on you.

You've got no choice to be inundated since the parents on the booster club know the parlance of the system and what a 3 technique shaded slightly inside is. They also "spare no expense" for the annual football banquet which Badon likened to the Grammy's.

Building on 0-5, to a playoff appearance to finally getting a squad back with some depth and experience, the Panthers aren't just looking to make the playoffs in 2012. They have six state championships in their history, and it's been a while since any new paint was added to the sign displaying all of them.

The goal isn't win a district game or even make the playoffs this year. The goal for Permian is to have some wet paint glistening on the big sign outside the school come this December.

And with coaches like Gaines and Badon, don't rule them out just yet.
  • mark rogers
  • February 28, 2012 3:47 PM

February 6, 2012


Here's how it shakes down by the numbers:

Number of high school seniors signed last week selected LSC football teams -
Angelo State: 33
West Texas - 42
Midwestern State - 34
Tarleton State - 27
Kingsville - 35
ACU - 9

Wait...9? Is that a typo, you ask? No. 9 is the number single digits.

But before you let that concern you too much, let me explain why that 9 is a very good thing.

Here's the list of "The Nine" as we shall call them:
Cade Stone, QB/Ath, FW Christian
Parker McKenzie, QB, Smithson Valley
Christian Rodriguez, OL, Los Fresnos
Chad Quisenberry, TE/H, Frenship
Robbie Goldschmidt, LB/FB, Woodlands
Tyler Chapa, CB, SA Warren
Keith Barnett, CB, Converse Judson
Josh Bloom, DT, Kingwood Park
Chukwuma Oputa, LB, Woodrow Wilson

Let's start with the fact that ACU had four high quality mid-year signees (JUCO transfers) who are already on campus: a big O-lineman, two defensive linemen, and a corner back

Those guys will come in and be expected to make an instant impact so they most likely soaked up quite a few scholarship dollars from the freshman class.

When coaches finish their football seasons, one of the first things they do is to make a recruiting board with all the guys they want in the order they want them.

Under "RB" they will have 5 or 6 guys that they would give scholarship money to. The first guy on the list won't be a Johnathan Gray, but he'll be someone that could definitely play at a lower profile FBS school or an FCS school (got to keep it within reason).

Then all the guys under that will be rated just a bit lower each step down.

Getting all the top choices won't happen. That would be like emailing everything on your Christmas wishlist to your family including the most outlandish, most expensive stuff you could ever possibly dream of and getting every last bit of it.

You may get a handful of stuff from the list or even quite a bit of it if it's a good year. But you'll also get a pair of socks from Aunt May and a gift certificate for a weekend getaway to Noodle from Cousin Charlotte.

(side note: when I walked on at ACU, I was considered the "pink, bunny onesie" from A Christmas Story of the 1999 class)

That said, the ACU coaches were able to knock down their TOP 2 CHOICES at corner. That is unheard of. Tyler Chapa was 2nd Team All-State last year and Keith Barnett is another guy who could see significant playing time as a true freshman.

I can't say for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that no other LSC team nailed down their two most absolute, most highly touted corners.

They also nabbed Josh Bloom from Kingwood Park. Coach Collums told me he has never signed a defensive tackle like Bloom. He's 6-1, 300 pounds and can move. He turned down several FCS offers and had New Mexico State all over him right at the 11th hour. He's a playmaker that (barring injury or other unforeseen personal issues) will play early next year.

Another notable signee is Cade Stone, the QB/Ath from FW Christian. The guy apparently doesn't look like your everyday jaw-dropper, but he's dynamic and has some jets on him that may put him at the head of the pack when the team runs sprints next fall.

Stone will factor in next year in the return game and could possibly see some time at receiver. Collums told me that when you have an athlete like Stone who brings something completely unique to the table, you have to consider getting him on the field in some way.

The other five guys are quality football players as well.

So when you look at the comprehensive picture, ACU will bring in 14 new faces to the 2012 season.

That looks better than 9 especially considering that all of the wide receivers return and most of the other key offensive players are back as well.

The Wildcats also lost both RBs from a year ago and didn't work too hard to sign any. Why not? Because of how good they feel about their RB stable as it stands now and into the next few years.

So before you let the number 9 get you all crazy...remember that it's quality over quantity. ACU could have gone out and signed 50 guys, but how many of those 50 would be like those unwanted Christmas gifts that end up in a basket behind the customer service desk at Wal-Mart waiting to be put back on the shelf?
  • mark rogers
  • February 6, 2012 8:58 AM