Former college-level assistant coach Don Mahoney stepped into the world of high school football, enamored by the sense of tight-knit community in the ‘Friday Night Lights’ environment. Now the head coach at Knoxville Webb, he’s been met with an unexpected challenge – the rising trend of Tennessee high school football player transfers.
“High school athletics should be about pride in your school and the community,” he told Knox News, voicing his concerns over an atmosphere where students are being pulled from one school to another.
The issue became particularly salient when Webb’s standout sophomore Shavar Young announced his transfer to Brentwood Academy in Nashville. This prompted Knox News to explore the issue further, seeking the viewpoints of 17 local football coaches on the transfer landscape.
“It’s frustrating,” admitted Seymour’s coach Patrick Clark, despite his school being less affected by the trend. However, he’s not alone in his sentiment. Coaches Derek Rang (Oak Ridge), Caleb Slover (Sweetwater), and Lee Warren (Karns) all spoke about the adverse ‘trickle-down’ effect from college football. The growing culture of Tennessee high school football player transfers at the college level is now impacting high school sports.
The coaches discussed the downsides of the trend. Slover pointed out that students bouncing between multiple schools can disrupt team dynamics and cultural development. Eddie Courtney, Farragut’s long-standing coach, criticized the predatory tactics employed by some teams to attract players.
Yet, the topic is not black and white. South-Doyle’s Paul Shelton acknowledges the complexity of the issue. “It’s a touchy subject,” he admitted, wanting to balance his team’s best interests with player empowerment. His main concern is that students might transfer due to their position on the depth chart, missing the crucial life lesson of overcoming adversity.
Shelton emphasized the importance of resilience, “Any type of success is going to come from being able to respond to adversity. You can’t run. And so I think there’s a lot of life issues that you want to teach in high school.”
It’s clear that the high school football community has some significant hurdles to tackle in order to maintain the purity and sense of community that coaches like Mahoney so value. The transfer trend is undeniably a hot topic in Tennessee’s high school sports scene.