Avery Williamson was living a good life this time last year, having retired from the NFL and living in Miami.
“Honestly it was nice, but it was also boring,” said Williamson, who played for Milan High School, the University of Kentucky, was drafted by the Tennessee Titans and also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. “But I took that year to figure out my next move, and last fall was my first time that I can remember not playing football.
“I wasn’t even involved in football, and I knew I needed to figure out what I’m supposed to do next.”
Through a series of events over the next few months, he ended up moving out of Miami and back to West Tennessee.
He was hired earlier this month as an assistant football coach at Jackson Christian.
“I really had no connection with Jackson Christian a few months ago, but things really worked out over the last couple of months to lead me to come here, and I’m pumped about it,” Williamson said.
Williamson has had a couple of big events at his home in Milan at Johnnie Hale Stadium, and he was doing something similar this year with a camp. He was looking into doing something similar in Jackson but had no obvious connections.
“My little cousin plays for Milan and I asked him if he knew of anyone I could talk to about having a camp in Jackson,” Williamson said.
His cousin, Bulldog standout Orlandis Williamson, told him about the strength and conditioning coach he’d been working with – Allen Ervin.
Orlandis connected Ervin and Avery, and Avery hosted a linebacker camp at Jackson Christian in May.
“After the camp, Coach Ervin told me that it sounded like the coaching staff might be wanting to talk to me about coming to join them, and [Jackson Christian head coach Darby Palmer] reached out a few days later,” Williamson said. “I thought and prayed about it, and we talked it out and now I’m with Jackson Christian.”
Palmer said knowing the experience Williamson has and the way he worked with the athletes at the camp was enough for him to recruit the former All-SEC linebacker to the Eagles.
“Avery is one of the best athletes to come through this area, and then look at what he did with the opportunity and abilities God gave him,” Palmer said. “He’s young and can relate to high school athletes, and he’s a great addition to our staff.”
Williamson said he’s enjoying his first few weeks working with the young Eagles.
“First off, this is a good team with a lot of talent and potential,” Williamson said. “But working with the linebackers and talking with them about some of my experiences and techniques and then seeing them use what I tell them on the field in practice is a great feeling.
“So I’m enjoying coaching and glad to be with Jackson Christian.”
Williamson’s senior season at Milan was 2009, which meant the Bulldogs were in the same region with Jackson Christian before TSSAA classified with the Z-Plan and the Eagles dropped down to smaller classifications.
“Honestly I don’t remember a lot about those games, but I do remember playing against them at home my junior year and there my senior year,” Williamson said. “And I know we won both games, but that was so long ago there’s nobody still here for me to gloat about it to.”
If he were to gloat to anyone, the other person could show him the state championship trophy Jackson Christian won in 2006, Williamson’s freshman season.
“It’s all great though because I’ve had a great career and football was very good to me at Kentucky and in the NFL,” Williamson said. “I’m glad to be back home in West Tennessee and giving back with Jackson Christian.”
Brandon Shields, email@example.com