Telly Lockette is getting an opportunity that great high school football icons such as Walt Frazier and Billy Rolle were never afforded. Lockette is the first African-American coach from a Miami-area high school to land a job with a major college program. Last week, University of South Florida Bulls head coach Willie Taggart added Lockette to his staff as running backs coach.
The 37-year-old Miami Northwestern alum has an impeccable football resumé. During his four-and-half-year run as the head coach at Miami Central Senior High, Lockette was the first coach in Miami-Dade history to take his team to three consecutive state title game appearances, winning two championships. No team from Miami-Dade or Broward has beaten Lockette's Rockets since 2009, when the Miami Northwestern Bulls defeated Central.
Throughout his career, Lockette has coached some of the best running backs to come out of Miami-Dade, including Antwain Easterling, Devonta Freeman, Joseph Yearby, and Dalvin Cook. During his tenure at Miami Central, roughly 70 of his players have signed scholarships to big-name programs, from Florida State to Oklahoma to Syracuse to Clemson.
Taggart made a big power move by picking up Lockette, who will recruit any South Florida kid he wants. For instance, Lockette grew up with the parents of the student athletes who are playing high school football. That makes him valuable. And all the high school football head coaches will rally around Lockette. Seeing him land an NCAA coaching gig gives them hope that other universities will come knocking on their doors. A lot of high school coaches aspire to get to a college coaching job. But universities in Florida have a problem hiring high school coaches from Miami-Dade. It's not like Texas, a state that has established a tradition of elevating high school coaches to the collegiate level.
If Lockette succeeds in getting the top players from South Florida, he'll give the Bulls a leg up on every other college. That's why the high school coaches will want Lockette to do great. His success will inspire other universities in the Sunshine State, from FSU to UM, to hire high school head coaches.