Cowboys ink new grid class
Story written by Jim Gazzolo
Frank Wilson never called his job at McNeese State a rebuild.
Instead, he believed being the head football coach of the Cowboys was about selling the school, his vision, the community and finally the future.
But a pandemic, two hurricanes and a devastated campus and community have him becoming the ultimate rebuilder.
It has been just under a year since Wilson was named the Cowboys’ first African-American head football coach. Since then he has scrambled to put not one but two recruiting classes together under less than ideal conditions.
He has also had to deal with a season pushed back to spring by a pandemic and a pair of hurricanes. Oh yes, all this will under NCAA postseason probation. That’s a lot in 12 months.
Wednesday Wilson unveiled his early recruiting class for this year, 11 players he hopes will help him put together what Mother Nature destroyed, and also win along the way.
“I’m excited about the class we signed,” said Wilson. “We worked hard this year.”
Probably harder than every.
Wilson admitted that his current roster has yet to have a practice with pads on, but says excitement his high for the spring season, which kicks off February 13.
“Our guys are ready to go,” Wilson said. “We want to get back to doing what we do, playing tackle football.”
Wednesday wasn’t about the near future but rather the distant one. Wilson was able to secure talent despite having his field flooded and not being able to showcase his school or facilities.
“This was the most challenging recruiting year,” he said. “Convincing these young men that we will be back with a great future was hard.
“We did our very best to bring Lake Charles to them.”
Selling his vision of the future was most important. Wilson also said he sold the recruits on the idea of being a part of something special, to be on the ground level of what is to come next for the program.
Interestingly, two kids with options to leave the area have elected to stay.
Dillon Simon of Lake Charles Prep, a quarterback with all-around skills, and Westlake defensive lineman Eli Goss, who was forced to play his senior year at South Beauregard High due to the hurricanes, signed to stay local. Wilson hopes he can keep local talent.
“When we have talented kids in Calcasieu Parish we are going to fight like hell to keep them,” he said.
In a year of illness, disasters, transfers and uncertainty Wilson and his staff have found kids willing to fight through it all.
“It will be greater later,” Wilson said. “The best is yet to come.”
Wilson may not call himself a rebuilder, but his job is to do just that. And it’s bigger than football.
* Jim Gazzolo is the host of Eye on Sports for CBS-Lake Charles