By Collin Brooks
Driving through Jonesborough, Gerald Sensabaugh saw a familiar face grace a billboard as he passed by. The smile that was emitting from his face once he saw the “Welcome to Pioneer Country” billboard with a picture of him from his Dallas Cowboys days, was similar to the one that was on display when the former NFL safety was introduced as David Crockett’s football coach to a library full of players and fans on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
“I am so glad to be here and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world,” he told the crowd as he took questions from media members, fans and players. “I feel like it is draft day, it’s the start of a whole other area of my life and there are no regrets.”
Sensabaugh took the helm after Jeremy Bosken resigned to take a position at Cleveland High School. The school interviewed five candidates for the position, but it was clear from the beginning that Sensabaugh had a leg up on any of the other nominees.
“His enthusiasm and his wanting to not just effect football, but the player’s character and make sure they understand it is about grades, and more about what they can do off the field. That came out in our first conversation with him,” David Crockett principal Peggy Wright said. “It’s exciting because of his level of performance and the level that he has played, whether it is college or the NFL. It’s pretty exciting when you look on your Twitter account and you have the NFL following you.”
Even though Sensabaugh has only a year of volunteer assistant coaching experience under his belt, Wright said that she was happy to provide him with an opportunity. She noted that she was a new principal that someone took a chance on.
A fifth round selection (157th overall) by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005, Sensabaugh signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2009 and retired from the NFL in 2013. He wants to take what he learned from the highest level and pass that on to the kids. His biggest goal is to provide the kids with an opportunity to have success stories like his.
He met with the entire team on Jan. 17 and delivered a message filled with love and toughness.
“I told them that we are going to have a lot of fun and we are going to learn a lot of lessons,” Sensabaugh said. “A lot of the opportunities that I got in life were because of making the right choices. Surrounding myself by the right people and I want to instill that into these kids at David Crockett.”
Sensabaugh hasn’t hired any of the coaches for his staff yet, but he’s had a lot of people contact him. In finding his coaches, he said one thing he would like to do is allow his players to only play on one side of the ball so that his schemes can be more complex.
“I will consider a lot of people and a lot of former Crockett players have called. I’ve probably had about 100 people ask me if they can come to coach. So that shows me the excitement that this is bringing to the school,” Sensabaugh said. “I can’t really elaborate on who I want to hire or what positions they will coach. That will just depend on what type of guys I can hire.
“If it’s an offensive guy, I can steer more toward defense and chime in when I need to… I am trying to work on some big name guys to come in here, guys that have played at the college level and have been really successful. But I don’t want to elaborate too much.”
While facilities seemed to be one of the reasons that Bosken left, Sensabaugh said that he didn’t see that as a big deal right now.
“The facilities aren’t bad here. I was actually pretty impressed with them when I came on my first visit,” Sensabaugh said. “And like I said, everybody is so worried about what looks good. That has nothing to do with winning and losing football games.”
No matter how the facilities look, Sensabaugh said that failure isn’t an option for him and his team.
“My name is going to be on the line, my coaching career is going to be on the line, my playing and my football knowledge is going to be on the line and I truly believe that we can win a lot, a lot of football games here at Crockett.”