When Dre’Mail King came to Carver prior to the 2015 football season as an assistant coach, his plan was to be there for just one year.
Former Tigers coach Joe Kegler had reached out to him to see if he would come down from Meadowcreek High (Norcross, Ga.) to help coach wide receivers, and King decided to do it. But his family loved the Gwinnett County area, and he had no plans to settle in Columbus for the long term.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans.
After a first-round playoff exit, the Tigers program became a roller coaster. The school decided to move on from Kegler and announced the hiring of former Alabama State head coach Reggie Barlow. Barlow went so far as to meet with the Carver players before applying for another job at Lanier High (Montgomery, Ala.) barely two weeks later.
When I got here, it was just football. It was just the atmosphere, and it was the tradition. It reminds me so much of my old high school, and I love it.
Dre’Mail King, Carver football coach
King, who had submitted his name as a candidate for Carver’s job before Barlow was chosen, was given another look and, ultimately, the job. Now, he says he’s with Carver for the long haul.
“When I got here, it was just football,” he said. “It was just the atmosphere, and it was the tradition. It reminds me so much of my old high school, and I love it.”
King said once some players had expressed to him that they wanted to see him stay and take the job, he put gas in the proverbial tank, as he put it, and went for it. And the roller coaster for the program that followed?
“That’s just a little fuel for the fire,” King said. “I don’t mind that.”
With the drama finally subsiding, King has finally been able to turn his focus back toward his program, looking for the right assistant coaches and trying to figure out the best approach to maximize the team’s talent and succeed in the immediate future.
That means altering schemes, some minor changes on offense and, he anticipates, a complete overhaul on defense.
“The previous coaches, they have their scheme and they have their rhythm to how they do things,” King said. “I have my own.”
On offense, that means a lot of speed. He likes to show multiple formations, he said, going downhill and attacking a lot in the vertical game.
On defense, it remains to be seen. The one thing he knows is that it will be different.
“We’re changing the entire defense,” he said.
Perhaps the most important thing he wants to implement is discipline within the program, he said.
“I’m very hard on discipline. I’m what you call an old-school coach,” he said.
The biggest difference, he expects, is how his players act when they’re not on the football field.
“That’s what I’m more concerned about,” he said. “This is going to be a transition. This isn’t something that everyone is going to want to jump on to. When you bring structure and discipline, people tend not to want to take that in too well.”
He said he’s aware of the fact that his strict approach might turn some players away and that the beginning stages of his tenure may prove a little rocky. But he only knows one way to run things.
“I’m ready for that,” he said. “I’ve got broad shoulders, and I’m ready to take that on. If you can’t stay on, then you’ve got to get off.”
King began his coaching career in 2010 as an assistant at his alma mater, Central-Tuscaloosa (Ala.), after spending time as a player in the United Football League and arena football. After three years at his alma mater, he took a head coaching job at Sumter Central (Livingston, Ala.), where he was for one year in 2013. He joined Meadowcreek’s staff in 2014 and Carver’s last year.
King said spring practice dates have not been set yet, as the team tries to fill out its staff first.