The Huddle: WR tiers, one-and-done head coaches, assistant shakeups

The Huddle: WR tiers, one-and-done head coaches, assistant shakeups

Welcome back to The Huddle!

My apologies for the long break off between columns, it was a hectic spring sports season. I plan on getting back to a weekly delivery.

It has been a weird offseason in terms of coaching changes and transfers. I think there have been more big transfers this offseason than I can remember. It makes the whole prospect of doing preseason coverage pretty daunting. If every returning player stayed at the school they started at, preseason content would be unlimited.

As an HSOT Insider, you have the ability to read our detailed (and constantly updated) transfer tracker at the link below:

This week, I took a look at the number of coaches that were hired last offseason who are already no longer at the school, some of the biggest changes with assistant coaches around the state, and my tiers for the returning wide receivers in North Carolina.

1st Down: One-and-Done Head Coaches From Last Season

16 of the new head coaches from last football season already won’t return for their second year. They are the following:

  • Darrius Wesson, Bertie
  • Matthew Reilly, Charlotte Catholic
  • Martin Samek, Corinth Holders
  • Antonio Wallace, E.E. Smith
  • Josh Williams, Garinger
  • Nazair Jones, KIPP GCP Pride
  • Dennis McFatten, Lumberton
  • Mitch Johnson, Northwood
  • Ryan Goggio, Patton
  • Mike Sartain, Riverside (Martin County)
  • Hancel Phipps, Smithfield-Selma
  • Justin Rogers, South Stokes
  • Rodney Boykin, Southern Guilford
  • Greg Lloyd, Starmount
  • Justin Allred, Wakefield
  • Jimmy Upchurch, West Stokes

Each of these coaches left for different reasons. Some got a higher paying job elsewhere, some were let go, some wanted to return home, some found the job to be overbearing, and some I just don’t really know why.

For whatever the reason is, having someone last for just one year is not something any of us want to see. Hopefully this cycle was an anomaly with many extenuating circumstances that led to the quick turnover again.

It’s sad that a few of these guys were coaches who waited patiently for an opportunity to lead a program. It might speak to the coaching and education environment as a whole that their dream job didn’t end up being satisfactory so early. It’s past time for this state to take coaching pay seriously.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend with the latest hires from this current offseason that might lend to there being less of these one-and-dones. I’ll get more into what that trend is in the next Huddle column.

2nd Down: Assistant Coach Carousel

I’ve heard about quite a few assistant coaching changes that could shake things up.

A.L. Brown High School offensive coordinator Barry Merritt left to take on the same role at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte. He had coached at the Kannapolis school for the better half of the past decade.

Longtime Tarboro assistant Maurice Knight went from the Vikings’ staff to Wilson Prep to be the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. That is a very interesting move between two of the perhaps most talented teams in the 1A East.

Former Ardrey Kell strength & conditioning leader Kyle Jacksic left to run the strength program at Charlotte Christian. He is one of the most regarded strength coaches in the state.

The departure of Brian Hales from his position as Butler’s head coach caused a ripple effect of assistants in the Charlotte area.

Butler quarterbacks coach Donald Littlejohn went to fulfill the same role at West Charlotte, which needs its offense to step up to the level of its defense.

Butler hired former Chambers coach Glenwood Ferebee to take over its program. Multiple assistants at Chambers followed Ferebee to the Bulldogs. They are Chris Hawk, Dre Cannon, Bernard Smith, James Akers, James Smith, Aaytee Tillman, and LJ Smith.

In addition to the retirement of Thomasville head coach Kevin Gillespie, the Bulldogs have seen multiple key assistants depart. Longtime area head coach and then assistant Dickie Cline retired after multiple decades in high school football. Nick Sweitzer, the defensive coordinator, left to be closer to where he lives at South Davidson. Steve Bare, who was also Thomasville’s athletic director, also retired. Bare was the offensive coordinator.

It’s always nice to see assistants stay in place through a coaching change. The entire Southern Alamance staff stayed on when the school hired Tony McCants to take over the program. When Tripp Honeycutt took over Walkertown, he kept a solid assistant in Ian Tatum and promoted him to offensive coordinator.

If there are any other big changes with assistant coaches that I did not mention here, please tell me about them at [email protected]!

3rd Down: Wide Receiver Tiers

Here are some of my favorite wide receivers in North Carolina entering the 2024 season. I divided them into three categories: elite (for high school), plus starter, and above average receiver. All of these players are very good, so don’t take the category to be some type of slight. We have a lot of good receivers in the state, so I probably missed some guys. I made this list with my own film watching and efficiency numbers in mind.

Elite HS Wide Receivers

  • Jaedon Alford, senior, Rolesville
    • Alford was the most productive receiver in 4A last season. He averaged 129.6 yards-per-game and 1.5 touchdowns-per-game.
  • Jerel Bolder, senior, Forest Hills
    • Bolder is a prospect that has attracted the attention of multiple Power 5 programs. Bolder scored 14 touchdowns last season on just 43 receptions over 14 games.
  • Tyshaun Goldston, senior, Randleman
    • This abnormal prospect is a freaky athlete at 6-foot-5. He scored 18 touchdowns in 12 game and averaged 24.4 yards-per-reception.
  • Jamien Little, senior, Hickory
    • The Wake Forest commit helped Hickory to a 3A state championship with his 20 touchdown receptions and 19.6 yards-per-reception.
  • Steven Murray, senior, Eastern Guilford
    • Murray is a Rutgers commit. He scored 16 touchdowns in 55 receptions over 11 games.
  • Nasir Newkirk, senior, Dudley
    • Despite playing with numerous top receivers at Dudley, Newkirk scored 16 touchdowns over 15 games on just 51 receptions. He has offers from the likes of Georgia, Notre Dame, and Duke.
  • Shamarius Peterkin, senior, Mount Tabor
    • Peterkin is 6-foot-2 4-star prospect who scored 12 touchdowns on 42 receptions last season.
  • Hampton Roderick, senior, Laney
    • The 4A receiver averaged 107.8 yards-per-game and a high 17.1 yards-per-reception considering his high number of catches (82).
  • Brian Rowe, senior, Jay M. Robinson
    • Rowe is a 4-star prospect who is committed to the South Carolina Gamecocks. He scored 15 touchdowns in 13 games and had a blistering 21.3 yards-per-reception.
  • Nas Session, senior, Hoggard
    • Session scored 15 touchdowns over 16 games as Hoggard made a run to the 4A state championship. He caught a touchdown on 27.3% of his receptions.
  • Braylon Stewart, senior, Middle Creek
    • Stewart averaged 107.8 yards-per-game and 1.5 touchdowns-per-game. He is starting to collect FCS attention, but could be a late target for FBS teams with another season like his junior year.
  • Ashawd Wynn, senior, Hough
    • Wynn was a menace in the 1A East at Hobbton. It remains to be seen just how well that will translate to the 4A West at Hough, but I’m willing to bet on him. He averaged a state-leading 165.7 yards-per-game and a state-leading 1.64 touchdowns-per-game.

Plus Starter HS Wide Receivers

  • Brandon Albert, senior, Community School of Davidson
  • Koredell Bartley, senior, Dudley
  • Xavier Burnett, senior, Jay M. Robinson
  • Jordan Cleaves, junior, Cox Mill
  • DeQuadre Currence, senior, Butler
  • Chinua Ezeigbo, senior, Central Cabarrus
  • Cam’Ron Jones, senior, Reidsville
  • Brody Keefe, junior, Myers Park
  • CJ Neely, senior, Dudley
  • Jaire Richburg, junior, East Forsyth
  • Tyell Saunders, senior, Northeastern
  • Gordon Sellars, junior, Providence Day
  • Fonzy Smith, senior, Trinity Christian
  • Gavin Waddell, junior, Rolesville
  • Jonathan Williams, senior, Havelock
  • Rimiez Williams, senior, Hertford County

Above Average HS Wide Receivers

  • Miller Aho, senior, Bishop McGuinness
  • Javon Barber, senior, Weddington
  • Jackson Beam, senior, East Lincoln
  • Laden Beckwith, senior, Willow Spring
  • Porter Branham, senior, Northwest Cabarrus
  • Sean Cartwright, senior, West Carteret
  • Ellis Chappell, senior, Hickory
  • Arrion Concepcion, senior, Chambers
  • Tyreek Copper, senior, Kinston
  • Mere Dempsey, senior, Bertie
  • Ethan Driver, junior, Davie County
  • TJ Ellerbe, junior, Red Springs
  • Tate Estep, junior, Charlotte Christian
  • Tyran Evans, junior, Hough
  • Quatavius Everette, senior, Scotland
  • Andrew Finnerty, senior, Lejeune
  • Steele Fletcher, sophomore, Providence Day
  • Sadat Grant, senior, North Mecklenburg
  • Ian Graybeal, senior, Ashe County
  • Jeremiah Harrison, senior, Chambers
  • Trevor Highsmith, senior, Lejeune
  • Kobe Johnson, junior, Freedom
  • Jasiah Jones, senior, West Carteret
  • Caleb Kearney, sophomore, Palisades
  • Stephen Keener, senior, East Surry
  • Evan Kennedy, senior, West Rowan
  • Ben Kirsch, senior, Ardrey Kell
  • Kayden Lytle, senior, Freedom
  • Nare Means, senior, Panther Creek
  • Elijah Melton, senior, Pinecrest
  • Dominic Morin, junior, Mooresville
  • Otavio Oliveira, sophomore, Providence
  • Syir Sutton, senior, Hough
  • Dominic Testa, senior, Jay M. Robinson
  • Isaiah Townsend, senior, Overhills
  • Elijah Woodle, senior, Asheboro

Victory Formation

You may have seen this year’s head coach preseason interviews starting to roll out. My goal is to talk to as many of the head coaches in this state as possible. Every head coach is invited on. If we get through a good part of the summer and the coach of your favorite team has not yet come on, give them some encouragement to do so!