Shanon Reid grew up attending Dunbar High football games and for the last 14 years has built a relationship with longtime assistant coach Sammy Brown.
“He’s been another father figure to me,” said Reid, now a senior linebacker for the Tigers. “He’s guided me. He’s always telling me my time is coming.”
Brown’s time is coming as well.
While Reid is a four-star prospect already with eight Division I offers and truckloads more soon to come, Brown is in the midst of a month-long audition for a job for which he’s been waiting quite some time. He opened Day 1 of spring practice as Dunbar’s interim head coach, stepping in after Phil Vogt resigned on April 13.
Brown will have 20 practices and a spring game late next month against Cape Coral to prove to the Dunbar administration he’s the man for the job, one who can build on one of the most successful seasons in school history.
“Without a doubt, I want the job,” Brown said. “I’m going to show the people of this community a team that plays disciplined and shows respect.”
Brown is a member of the Joe Hampton coaching tree. Hampton coached at Estero for 12 years and is the only coach to lead a Lee County public school to a state title game.
Brown played for Hampton alongside former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Henry and South Fort Myers head coach Anthony Dixon.
Dixon, a longtime assistant at South, has an interesting perspective on Brown’s current situation. A season ago, after then-head coach Grant Redhead left the Wolfpack a week into spring practice, Dixon was named the interim coach and spent the rest of the spring successfully coaching to remove the interim tag.
The two speak on the phone most nights, but Brown says Dixon provides more support than advice.
“We both know what it takes to run a program,” Brown said.
That was evident as soon as Brown was given the opportunity. Players were shocked at how much he already had planned before practice started Monday.
Brown already has two fundraising programs in place. The Tigers will host a weightlifting fundraiser in a few weeks and will also sell Carraba’s Italian Grill gift cards to support the program.
It’s really nothing new for Brown. And that goes for the administrative duties required on the first day of practice as well.
A line of Dunbar players stretched through the Tigers’ field house waiting to receive their equipment. At the same time, there were assistants checking players’ names off lists to make sure they’d submitted the proper paperwork to be eligible to practice.
It was a streamlined process Brown picked up while coaching under Vogt, who was in attendance serving as an assistant on Day 1.
“(Vogt) has let me grow through this process while I was an assistant,” Brown said. “I’m happy to have him here. It may seem like a big deal (that he’s still here), but it’s not as big of a deal as it seems.”
Players like Reid and senior Tariq Thomas said it’s on them to make sure Brown is their coach heading into a summer full of 7-on-7 tournaments leading into fall camp.
“As seniors, we need to come together and show him respect and keep that respect consistent,” Thomas said. “We need to let the freshmen know how important that is.”
Thomas’ brother played for Brown a few years ago and he developed a solid understanding of what Brown expects.
“He can be your buddy sometimes, but when you get on the field he’s all about discipline,” Thomas said.
It’s the only way Brown has ever coached. And it’s the only way he believes the Tigers can continue to win district championships and be competitive in the postseason as they were last season when they went 9-2 and won two playoff games, a single-season school record.
“They need to know it’s never good enough,” Brown said. “They need to keep pushing.”