August 24, 2014

Cogdell Ready for College Coaching Debut

Typically this time a year, the conversation that dominates a bulk of discussion among college football message boards include the development of younger players. These kids, sometimes true freshman, must adapt and adjust to the rigors and physicality of the college game quickly, with the reality that they are not in high school anymore.

While this is certainly a topic for discussion this season for West Virginia, the Mountaineers also have another individual making the leap this season from high school to the collegiate ranks.

Defensive assistant Damon Cogdell already knows what it is like to transition from high school to college, following his playing days in Morgantown. But this season, Cogdell has been making a complete new transition - high school coach to college coach.

And while there are plenty of similarities to note between the two levels, easing the transition, Cogdell has learned a lot about himself and coaching in only a few short months on the job in Morgantown.

"It's been good and it's been rewarding," Cogdell said. "I've learned a lot of different styles from coaches - the professional side of it, just looking at the organizational parts. In high school we were the biggest one in the state of Florida. You thought you saw it all. Coming to the college ranks you see how it's really operated."

Even with the differences in styles and methods used from various coaches, Cogdell says the "shock factor" really hasn't been around since he has arrived. While most high school coaches struggle with adjusting to the work load and hours they will put in on the collegiate level, Cogdell, surprisingly, says the load has been lightened from his days at Miramar High School.

"High school camp was actually more hours, because I was playing coach and athletic director," he explained. "So I'm there from about 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning until about 8:00 at night. Only thing different is I didn't work on Sundays. Here I work on Sundays."

Furthermore, coaching and working with an elite high school program such as Miramar has helped ease this transition for Cogdell. After working with various college football coaches recruiting his players and attending camps across the country, nothing really took him by surprise.

"Because I've been around for a while, going to different camps and seeing different coaches, it wasn't a shocker to me," Cogdell said. "I was prepared for what was given to me."

Having former players he helped tutor in high school already make a splash at West Virginia has also given Cogdell strong recognition among the community. These relationships continue to stick with him in Morgantown to this day. With former players such as Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey making a name for themselves at West Virginia before moving to the NFL, Cogdell's footprint has been on the Mountaineer program for quite sometime.

This season, Devonte Mathis, another Miramar product that played under Cogdell, is the next in this lineage. And although he is lined up opposite of Cogdell's defense, the coach is not afraid to admit he is cheering at times for Mathis to hit it big.

"When Devonte scored a touchdown yesterday you really don't want him to score as a defensive coach," he said. "But he's one of your kids, so you're happy at the same time. It's pretty cool."

But ultimately, the biggest factor that has aided Cogdell in his progression to a college coach is his personality and attitude. Very few coaches seem to be having as much fun interacting and teaching these kids as Cogdell, and it is a trait he has carried with him from Miramar and will continue to use as he brings his passion back to the West Virginia sidelines.

"I was blessed to be active with all the kid's lives at Miramar, and not just football," he said. "As the athletic director, I had a great report with the student body as well as the athletes. I get along with everybody. What you see is what you get."

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