C.J. Harris has made his rounds, and now he’s back home.
Harris, a Sidney Lanier alum, is back with the Poets after being officially introduced as the new football coach in a press conference on Tuesday.
“I’m glad to be back home,” Harris said. “That’s any coach’s dream, to get back to their high school or college. The biggest thing, we want to build some structure, some organization and leadership. I feel that I can make it successful.”
Harris played football and basketball for the Poets before going to Alabama State to play wide receiver.
Harris returns to Montgomery after spending last season as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Northview High School in Dothan. From 2005-12, he served as wide receivers coach at Prattville High School.
“I feel good about it because he’s one of us,” junior defensive back Antonio Hunsu said. “The other guy, he was a good coach, but he’s not from this school.”
Harris is taking over for Angelo Wheeler who went 5-25 in three seasons. Harris intends on bolstering the passion for the football team, as attendance was poor for the Poets’ 3-7 season in 2012.
“Last year, we had a good team, we just needed a little more encouragement,” junior outside linebacker Artaivous Gates said. “We needed new faces. He was a Poet once before, it should be good.”
Harris is equally optimistic about the Poets’ future.
“From what I saw last year, this is probably the fastest team I’ve ever seen in my life, and a lot of those kids are coming back,” Harris said. “I’m not saying we’re going to go to the championship next year. But I will say this, we’ll be competing next year. We’re going to go out and try to outwork everybody.”
Lanier Principal Michael Gibbs said Harris is respectful, resourceful and responsible, the school’s “three R’s,” and brings a wealth of knowledge.
A point of emphasis across the board was to increase the school spirit.
“We’re asking, we’re begging, we’re pleading to get aboard, because we’re going on a ride and we want you there with us,” Gibbs said to the students. “Coach Harris is going to drive the bus, and we’ve given him the keys.”