Kyle Adkins was done with football. He had torn his ACL in his final game at Americus High School, a 1996 state championship game.
As he began attending Georgia Southwestern University the following fall, his goal was to become an orthopedic surgeon.
But after attending one of the state semifinal games at the Georgia Dome, the love for the game was rekindled.
"I realized what I wanted to do," Adkins said. "I have been driven since."
That drive landed Adkins a promotion earlier this month to be the head football coach at Shaw High. He takes over for Jamie Fox, who resigned after two seasons for what school officials described as family reasons.
"(Becoming a head coach was) absolutely a goal of mine," Adkins said, "as early as I can remember."
Fox went 8-13 in his two seasons, but he was able to guide the Raiders back to the state playoffs in 2011, which was also Adkins' first season at Shaw.
As the offensive coordinator, the Raiders set a new team record for passing. They also had the program's first 1,000-yard receiver in Jalen Jones (51 catches, 1,067 yards and 11 touchdowns). Shaw's quarterback, Chandler Whittlesey, earned Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City honors after completing 124-of-224 passes for 1,948 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Adkins will be trying to get Shaw back to the state championship game for the first time since 2006. The Raiders won the program's only state football title in 2000, when Charles Flowers was the coach.
Since 2007, the program has had four straight losing seasons.
"Shaw has a rich tradition," Adkins said. "It is an honor and privilege to coach here. I want to get this program back to where coach Flowers had it.
"Jamie set the foundation for progress. We are going to get it back to where it was."
While a student at Georgia Southwestern, Adkins was a student-coach at Tri-County High. When he graduated in 2002, he was hired by Dexter Copeland at Twiggs County.
Before the 2002 season, Twiggs' defensive coordinator left. Copeland said he knew enough that even though Adkins was only 23, he could put Adkins in charge of the defense.
"I was shocked, but I was prepared," Adkins said.
The move paid off as Twiggs County didn't give up a touchdown through its first six games that season.
"He has a tremendous football mind," said Copeland, who is now the head coach at Baldwin. "Even though he was fresh out of college, I put him in charge of my offensive and defensive lines. He is a hard worker, maybe he overworks sometimes."
Copeland said his promotion to defensive coordinator was not a move made out of desperation.
"He has a sharp mind," Copeland said. "I knew he could do it. And he did a great job."
After three years, Adkins left for two years at Jefferson County, two at Ware County and two at Howard before joining Fox's staff at Shaw last year.
Whittlesey returns for Adkins, who will hold his first spring practice from May 7-17.
"This senior class can be one of the best ever," Adkins said. "In the past 13 days, we have kids coming in to lift weights, who have not played last couple of years."
Shaw athletic director Scott Newman said he is confident Adkins will be successful.
"He's very, very organized," Newman said. "He did a great job as the offensive coordinator. He is a hard charger."
SHAW HEAD COACHES
Jamie Fox 2010-11 8 13 .381
Scott Newman 2007-09 17 17 .500
Craig Fitts 2006 12 3 .800
Charles Flowers 1992-2005 124 45 .734
David Taylor 198-91 14 16 .467
Ron Lee 1987-88 1 19 .050
Bubba Ball 1978-1986 27 59 .314
Totals 203 172 .541